Zubin Mehta: ‘Israel has lost Europe. Now, it is losing America.’

In an outspoken interview with Amit Slonim in Mako magazine, the veteran music director of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra shares some grim thoughts about cultural isolation.

His exact words (as published in Hebrew): הבידוד של ישראל בעולם כל כך מדאיג אותי. ישראל מבודדת ברמה היומיומית. אני חושב שישראל כבר איבדה את אירופה. עכשיו היא נמצאת על הקצה של לאבד את אמריקה. אני קורא בעיתונים שהתמיכה בישראל אצל האמריקנים ירדה. חצי מהאמריקנים לא תומכים בישראל. זה לא היה ככה

‘I’m so worried about Israel’s global isolation. It’s happening on a daily basis. I think Israel has already lost Europe. Now it’s on the point of losing America. I read in the papers that support for Israel has declined among Americans. Half of all Americans do not support Israel. It didn’t used to be like that.’

He goes on to say that some musicians won’t come to Israel for political reasons, others due to the low fees paid by the IPO. ‘They have told me this to my face. Some years ago, there was a certain musician who, refusing to appear here, spoke just like Hamas. He said: I won’t come until Israel returns all its territory to the Arabs.’ He was a marvellous conductor.’

Anyone know who it might have been?

 

MMF concerto per Benedetto  XVI

UPDATE: A full translation of the interview has now been published here.

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    • Abbado was a great friend! And he did conducted in Israel, I myself played with him there the Mozart operas.

    • Ed@ Abbado was a great friend, both of Mehta and Barenboim and of Israel too. He did came and conducted there, I myself played with him the Mozart operas.

  • Netanyahu’s stunt in Congress recently certainly has certainly damaged Israel’s reputation among many more liberal Americans, especially since the israelis then went ahead and re-elected him.

    • You mean Netanyahu’s stunt where he tried to make the case that Obama was cutting a bad deal, any sort of deal at all, so that O. could leave office claiming that he really was the messiah? The only liberals whose support has been lost are those who elected Obama solely because he is black. Those of us who voted for Obama only because the Republicans put forth horrible candidates gave up on Obama long ago.

    • Stunt? It was the most serious and significant event that has happened in Congress in many years. He was a class act, an adult. Breaching the media’s cofferdam is not a sin, it is a responsibility.

      • “The media’s cofferdam”? Is there a big conspiracy by “all the media” not to tell people how bad all Iranians really are? Is there a big conspiracy not to tell people how bad Obama really is? Did they need Netanyahu to show up in Congress to tell everyone that? And if that was the case, how come “the media” who are all in on that big conspiracy actually reported what Netanyahu had to say?

      • Enjoy this video. And don’t miss the part beginning around 2:20, where Stewart points out how Netanyahu has been telling us for decades that when it comes to Iran, “time is running out”.

        BTW, just in case you didn’t know, Stewart himself is Jewish. So you can’t play the anti-Semite card against him.

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=07rETBLslrk

      • Your emetic remarks do you full credit, I’m sure.
        ‘A class act’…well you do seem to have a sense of humour.

    • Michael – Next election I shall recommend the Israelis to consult you before they go to the ballot box. You visited here many places that tourists or even Israelis didn’t visit and in my opinion you ought to know a bit better and report about the common life here what you saw on the borders etc. One Israeli namely me will consult you before I throw my paper in to the ballot box. Do you really think that any serious Israeli is going to vote according to American wishes.

      • Of course my visit and the conversations we had did influence my perspective on this subject – but you seem to have overlooked that this discussion here and my comments in it were over a year before I came over.
        Apart from that, I don’t see what my comment has to do with me wanting to tell Israelis how to vote. That Netanyahu got elected into office several times is a simple fact and stating that in itself is hardly controversial. Plus you are highly critical of him yourself. So I don’t quite follow your comment here.

        • It’s true that Netanyahu was elected several times, but few Americans seem to understand a fractious parliamentary democracy such as Israel’s. He doesn’t have anything close to a mandate. His party holds approximately 1/3 on the seats in the Knesset. To put that into perspective, in our most recent congressional elections, the Democrats won considerable more than 1/3 of the seats in the House of Representatives, and it was considered a disastrous loss.

          • Well, that’s because there really only are 2 relevant parties here. I see in the Knesset there are currently ten (I just looked it up). I think I understand how that works as it seems to be similar to way the Bundestag is set up.
            But however that works, Netanyahu is still the prime minister (in his 4th term) and he is the political leader of Israel, and as such is seen as representing the country as a whole even if he may not actually be someone who a majority of the population has voted for, so his actions may be held by some against the country as a whole. I am not saying that is correct or fair, but that’s the way it is.

            Good comment above about Obama being called “the messiah”, BTW.

  • Maybe Israel has to look at itself too? I am sure Mehta and Barenboim differ in view on the cause of this all. Remarkable is that Mehta is not an Israeli and Barenboim is.
    The conductor he points at could be John Eliot Gardiner, who indeed as I understand refuses to perform in Israel.

      • If this is all that occurs to a sentient human being, then good night nurse.
        Gallant, plucky, treasured little Israel, steeped in good will, mercy, charity, justice
        and protective affection for those they keep in bondage. The stuff of sacred legend, nicht wahr?

        • You must mean the fact that they destroyed the missile sites from which rockets were being launched at Israeli cities, even though Hamas based them in the midst of heavily-populated areas. No other nation would be criticized for doing so.

    • I think the problem is that all sides are already looking at themselves…with a perception utterly marred by deep-seated distrust and more often than not outright hatred.

  • The man might be a wonderful conductor; the again, I believe a number of wonderful conductors had no real problem performing in Nazi Germany. If he feels this way, who the hell would want him to come to Israel anyway, even as a visitor? This mystery conductor is obviously an anti-semite who uses the complicated situation in the middle east to express his hatred of Jews in a socially acceptable way (acceptable at least to people with the same prejudice he has).
    As to Europe in general, it’s hardly a secret that anti-semitism is rampant there. All the good French, German , English, etc can now congratulate themselves on their long-held Jew hatred and can tell themselves that six million Jews really did deserve to be slaughtered in the Holocaust.

    • As a German and European, born long after the war, I take offense from your bland unjustified generalizations.

      • Sorry, it’s all too accurate. Once religious, then racial, now political, Jew hatred is baked into the DNA of Europe. Now, of course, the Europrogs have outsourced the killing to their Islamist pals.

        • Your odious comment confirms the accuracy of the comments of Jaypee. It is insulting to me. Go back into your cage, where you belong!!!

        • So anybody, especially anyone born in Europe, who voices any criticism of Israeli politics is automatically an “anti-Semite”? Does that also apply to people of Jewish background? Are all Israelis who did not vote for Netanyahu also “anti-Semites”?

    • “As to Europe in general, it’s hardly a secret that anti-semitism is rampant there. All the good French, German , English, etc can now congratulate themselves on their long-held Jew hatred and can tell themselves that six million Jews really did deserve to be slaughtered in the Holocaust.”

      Mark, I find it rather disturbing how easily and indiscriminately you call millions, hundreds of millions of people even, “racists”, and how you seem to relish that you deem yourself to be in a position to be able to call all these people “racists”.

      Racists never really think they are racists. They usually think they are somehow “justified” to hold blanket prejudices against other people. Because in their mind, “all these people” actually “deserve” to be prejudged and called names.

  • Never cared much for Mehta’s conducting but in this case he’s spot on. Bibi has done more harm to Israeli-American relations than the most wild eyed anti-Semite could have dreamed of.

    • No sir. It is our ‘president’ and his lapdog media that have done that. Most truly sentient Americans see Netanyahu as a great and moral leader, the very opposite of the lazy, ignorant, vengeful creature we have.

      • A “great and moral leader”

        who has been telling the world for 20 years that Iran is just steps away from having a nuclear bomb? How come we are all still here then?

        “the very opposite of the lazy, ignorant, vengeful creature we have”

        Oh, so Obama is not only “lazy, ignorant, vengeful” – really? “vengeful”? – but also just a “creature”? Is it so depressing for you that there is a black man in the White House, and he is not the carpet cleaner?

  • Netanyahu has done a lot of damage to US-Israeli relations because he has contributed to making Israel a partisan issue in the US, which AIPAC wisely tried for years to prevent. But now you have wealthy American Jewish Republican donors (Sheldon Adelson just the best known) pushing a lot of campaign money to Republicans who unquestionably support not just Israel, but the most hard-line Israeli policy. And a lot of Democratic politicians (and voters) resent that, not surprisingly.

    People who object to Israeli policies or who don’t want to perform in Israel are not anti-Semites (well, some might be, but such a position doesn’t make them such. Such a slur is really outrageous).

  • Mehta should give up his lifetime post and the salary that comes with it. Perhaps the IPO could pay more if he got less. He should focus on Indian affairs of state. He was once lionized for being apolitical. Now he looks like Barenboim. It’s a shame.

    • What do you mean “he looks like Barenboim”? Is that a compliment? Because Barenboim looks very good when it comes to acting responsibly and humanly in front of the Palestinian problem.

  • Any nation would become self-isolating if it brings to its allies nothing but heartache/heartburn/crisis in politics.

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