Daniel Barenboim: I am ashamed to be Israeli

Daniel Barenboim: I am ashamed to be Israeli


norman lebrecht

July 22, 2018

The conductor has written an op-ed for Haaretz today, attacking the new Israeli nationality law. He writes:

The founding fathers of the State of Israel who signed the Declaration considered the principle of equality as the bedrock of the society they were building. They also committed themselves, and us, “to pursue peace and good relations with all neighbouring states and people.” 70 years later, the Israeli government has just passed a new law that replaces the principle of equality and universal values with nationalism and racism….

We now have a law that confirms the Arab population as second-class citizens. It therefore is a very clear form of apartheid.

I don’t think the Jewish people survived for 20 centuries, mostly through persecution and enduring endless cruelties, on order to now become the oppressors, inflicting cruelty on others. This new law does exactly that.

That is why I am ashamed of being an Israeli today.

Read the full article here.

UPDATE: We are banned in the Middle East


  • Caravaggio says:

    The marriage in the USA between some powerful Israeli lobbying groups and ultra right wing Evangelicals is one of the mysteries of the day.

    • Tamino says:

      The US of A is full of ‘mysteries’ these days.

    • Robert Holmén says:

      It’s not a mystery. It’s about getting Raptured to heaven.

      The right wing of Christianity in the US believes that numerous prophecies about “the end times” in the Bible reference Israel and that a Jewish Israeli state must exist for the prophecies to come true.

      Here’s a typical summary…


      The Christians believe there have to be Jews running a place called Israel before the Christians can go to Heaven.

      Even though they believe that the Jews will judged as apostate and eternally damned, they also believe that the faithful Christians can’t be Raptured to heaven if the prophecied events that precede The Rapture can’t happen for lack of an Israel for them to happen in.

      They WANT the world to end, and having an Israel is a required element.

      • anon says:

        The mystery isn’t the motives of the American evangelicals, the mystery is the motives of the Israeli right wingers. Why, as a Jew, would they sell their souls to American evangelicals for an extra square kilometer of land? Sure, in the Jewish mythology, there is no Christ, so Jews could care less about Christian mythology, but still, to paraphrase the Merchant of Venice, have Jews no pride?

        • Robert Holmén says:

          “Why, as a Jew, would they sell their souls to American evangelicals for an extra square kilometer of land?”

          No soul selling required. The Israelis give up nothing in this arrangement and get everything. It’s not like they have to promise the Christians are going to get their rapture on a certain day. The Evangelicals are being played for a result that can never be delivered.

          • CLG Conlon says:

            Paul the Apostle: ‘Whst doth it profit a man if he gain the whole world as suffer the loss of his own soul?’

    • dar says:

      As an aside,from the ‘Who-knewoDept’… thefreethoughtproject.com/social-security-medicare-go-bankrupt-us-gives-israel/
      While the United States gives Israel around $10.5 million a day,
      reports indicate
      Social Security and Medicare funds will soon be depleted.
      by Rachel Blevins – June 17, 2018

      …Former President Obama set the record
      by pledging $3.8 billion to Israel every year
      the next 10 years in 2016, with the largest military aid deal in U.S. history.
      President Trump increased the amount
      by pledging an additional $75 million in 2018,
      while Americans suffering
      from the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey begged for aid.

      The United States’ commitment to Israel has stayed the same,
      even as Israel was caught opening fire on peaceful protesters
      near their border fence in Gaza, killing dozens and injuring thousands.

      While other countries accused Israel of war crimes
      and called for an investigation, the U.S. blatantly ignored the atrocities.
      If countries such as Syria, Russia, or Iran,
      were targeting civilians in the same way that Israel is,
      the United States would be calling for a full-scale invasion.

      Instead, the U.S. continues to condone
      the country’s treatment of Palestinian civilians by sending Israel $10.5 million a day
      —even when Americans are in desperate need—
      all while the president in office gained support by promising to put “America First.”

  • Bart Wauters says:

    With all due respect for the greatest living musician of the Western world, not even a decade after the founding fathers of the Israeli monstrosity wrote those lofty words, they participated in a nakedly imperialist attack on Egypt, in 1956. He also doesn’t seem to know that in pre-1967 Israel, Palestinians were already subject to a series of restrictions that were designed to keep then away from the Jewish inhabitants. Israel has been am imperialist Apartheid state right from the start.

  • Tamino says:

    These imbeciles who form the current government in Israel, representing a growing share of the population, have just destroyed one of the major pillars of why enlightened fractions in the west justified their support for Israel as a nation state:
    Because it was based on a democratic and enlightened constitutional foundation.
    Now why should the west support a belligerent religious apartheid state, that Israel now wants to be?

  • Helene Kamioner says:

    DB hasn’t been “Israeli” for a long time.

    • Caravaggio says:

      Because he is a true citizen of the world and a man who has long sought peace and fairness, that disqualifies him as an “Israeli”? How outrageous of you to suggest so. Please define an “Israeli”, a real “Israeli”.

      • Mary says:

        You are absolutely correct, Caravaggio. I have the highest respect for DB.

      • Helene Kamioner says:

        DB was born in Argentina, lives primarily in Berlin, and has living quarters all over the world. I don’t believe he ever served in the Israeli army, or pays Israeli taxes. He is a Jew, which he may be ashamed of being, but he is definitely not Israeli. You are right in saying he is a citizen of the world, but he certainly cannot be considered Israeli, as much as I cannot be considered German or Polish even though my parents were Polish Jews and I was born in Munich.

        • Tamino says:

          Of course you can be considered German and Polish. You just don‘t want to.

          • Helene Kamioner says:

            Wrong. Poland would never grant me citizenship papers or passport same with Germany. However because I am a Jew, Israel would, and I could be a dual citizen of the United States of America and Israel.

          • Tamino says:

            Have you tried? You were born in Germany, and I assume also lived there as a child, so you should be eligible? Which citizenship did you have after birth?

            Also your logic is flawed. The Jews claim that maternal bloodline as defining their Jewishness. So that logic applied to your ancestry, you are Polish by birth.

          • Helene Kamioner says:

            You are obviously misinformed or simply don’t have a grip on the facts. btw, I was issued papers as a stateless citizen by the Red Cross and the Americansas were both my Jewish parents who were born in Poland. With the help of HIAS, the Hebrew Immigration Aid Society, we emigrated the the US in 1952, when I was 2, and after 7 years granted US citizenship. To acquire a German passport as well, one’s parent’s had to be German, and you’re right, I have no desire for any Polish affiliation and am disgusted with their attempt to legally rewrite history claiming they had nothing to do with the Holocaust.

        • Sue says:

          He’s one of Woody Allen’s “self-loathing Jews”. He’s not alone; I loathe him too.

        • MacroV says:

          He was born in Argentina but lived for a number of years in Israel in his youth. It’s up to him to decide what kind of Jew or Israeli he wants to be. And he’s hardly the only one of either to criticize actions of the Israeli government.

        • ED says:

          DB is an Israeli citizen – he holds Israeli citizenship – FACT.
          DB “may be ashamed of being” a Jew – YOUR ASSUMPTION.

          • Helene Kamioner says:

            DB holds many citizenships….he doesn’t pay Israeli taxes, never served in the army and was born in Argentina, and has resided in Berlin for many years. Personally, I consider him an enemy of Israel, and furthermore couldn’t care less about t this egotistical, self-serving person…and Jew when it suits him, as in the case of Barenboim versus Thielemann. His artistry leaves me cold as well and he is a very mean man from what I’ve heard from his employees and colleagues. Who needs him?

    • Tamino says:

      I think those people who voted for that law in the Knesset aren’t actually Israelis. I can support my argument by the fact, that they spit on Israel’s declaration of independence.

      And then I don’t know what you are trying to say anyway. You sound like those people back in the day, who told the German Jews, among them people who had fought for Germany in WWI, that they are actually not Germans anymore. Same train of thought.

  • anmarie says:

    Perhaps DB should move to Saudi Arabia, build a synagogue, and start his own branch of citizen-of-the-world Judaism there.

    • Caravaggio says:

      Or we could send him to a concentration camp for disqualified Israelis. What do you think?

      • Anmarie says:

        I think it’s sickening that you would say such a thing, even sarcastically.

      • Esfir Ross says:

        Brilliant absurd idea but Israel government may jump on it and vote in Knesset. I have a lot of admiration for Daniel Barinboim, I feel ashamed to. There’s another Jewish state inside Russia that exist before Israel and doesn’t have blood on their hand. Capital city Birobidjan.

        • Petros Linardos says:

          Why be ashamed of your admiration for Barenboim?
          His heart seems to be in the right place. Personally I feel that he often over stretches himself in his statements: politically, philosophically, moralistically. Arguably he also over stretches himself musically, but that’s his modus operandi.
          There is a lot to admire in Barenboim. He has his fair share of flaws, but who doesn’t?

      • Esfir Ross says:

        How many citizenship Evgeny Kissin has-including Israeli even never intend reside there?

    • Helene Kamioner says:

      Hasn’t he already done that?

      • Mark Mortimer says:

        Helene- I’m not surprised Poland have denied you citizenship because you sound like a real pain in the backside they could do without.

      • esfir ross says:

        Helen, don’t you got enough money from Germany{West, only} for your family WWII troubles. Poland was victim of the war, as well and you’ll not be able to get reparation from them. You don’t need Polish citizenship and Poland don’t need you

      • esfir ross says:

        E.Kissin wouldn’t dare to refuse given Israeli citizenship and passport-he’ll be vindicated. He never reside in Israel. He left USSR to avoid draft and didn’t dream to serve in Israel army. He choose other countries.

  • Ben G. says:

    It is interesting to note that DB is also a citizen of Argentina, Israel, Palestine, and Spain.

  • Olassus says:

    Put a sock in it, Barenboim.

  • william osborne says:

    Israel seems to be having some problems with its conductors – perhaps at least a measure of its democratic values. In April 2016, Zubin Mehta, who was GMD of the Israel Phil for 40 years, also weighed in critically:

    “I admire the Israelis… for their patience at the status quo policy their present government leads. A situation in which nothing progresses. I am worried a great deal about it, as someone who knows Israel’s image around the world very well. Israel is isolated, and I will say it again: Isolated.”

    He added:

    “I hate to imagine what would happen if one of the settlements had to be evacuated. After all, the settlers say they will be removed only ‘over their dead bodies.’ I say: Think about the human aspect. You cannot take land from someone else and explain it is yours according to the Bible. It is as if we, the believers in the Zoroastrian religion, now demand land in Iran because a thousand years ago we lived there.”

    The article is here:

    The irony is that Barenboim and Mehta can say these sorts of things in Israel, but if they said them in the USA there’s a good chance they would face fairly serious reprecussions.

    • Petros Linardos says:

      What kind of repercussions?

      • william osborne says:

        Discreet professional ostracism. In the USA, a law of celebrity is to never say anything too controversial. Dixie Chicks, Sinéad O’Connor, Roseanne, etc. I think famous musicians could be critical of Israel, even if a good deal of tact would be needed, but not in the sort of polemical way that Barenboim and Mehta state their arguments. But I think things are changing in the specific case of Israel. Americans are getting fed up with the Netanyahu government. They NYT has come down hard on the new law, so my thought might be wrong:


        • Pianofortissimo says:

          The times are changing. American ’celebrities’ are saying ‘f**k’ somebody or something very often, and many have exhorted to violence, even to murder. Disgusting. Unthinkable not so long ago. And it does not seem to lead to some kind of ‘professional ostracism’ or else, as far as they are on the ‘right’ side.

  • Debra says:

    As a jewish woman living in israel, I couldn’t agree more with DB.

    • Edgar says:

      Thank you. Your comment shows that righteousness is alive in Israel, albeit that it is severely under assault by the nationalist far-right Netanyahu government (in which Naftali Bennett – not outdone in this by Avigdor Lieberman – is itching to take Bibi Netanyahu’s place).

    • will says:

      Well said, Debra.

  • V.Lind says:

    Isn’t it time they indicted Netanyahu for some of the fraud, etc, they have been investigating for years and get shot of him? A new election might show what the general run of Israeli people feel. This rightwing bunch of thugs has run its course.

  • Doug says:

    Throw down a sack of dog feces and all kinds of revolting insects crawl out from under their rocks.

  • Sue says:

    Here we go again!! Shut up and play, Mr. Barenboim. Your virtue signalling does you zero credit.

    • jaypee says:

      Gotta love those trumpanzee giving moral lessons to someone like Baremboim…

      Made fun of a handicap person today, sue? Or did you grab someone by the you-know-what?

  • Roberto says:

    Hi NL,

    I posted two comments. Please delete the one with my last name. That was a mistake.

  • Roberto says:

    Everybody is to blame. There are so many “experts” on the Israeli-Palestine conflict but I almost never or maybe never, read an opinion from an “expert” that has factual knowledge of the historical events from both sides.

    Europe is to blame. With your pretended and fake right consciousnesses, boycotts, the old and traditional hate for Jews disguised by anti-Israel. Israel is the worst problem in the world. The Jews are the problem. Only the Jews can save the world. Please give Tel Aviv to the Hamas. Then everything will be all right.

    Nothing will change if Hamas is offered Tel Aviv and the whole land, Europe’s problems won’t be solved.

    On this era of boycotts, when Jew hate is politically correct, what do you expect Israelis response? They are reacting because, as Zubin Metha said, they are isolated. When you have nothing else to lose, you retract.

    What Europe should do is exactly the opposite. It is, btw,what DB does with the West Divan Orchestra. Europe needs to stop using words like aberration and tragedy when they mention Israel. They need to stop BDS. They need to build bridges. Israelis and Palestinians also need to build their own bridges.

    I had a lunch with a friend last week and he is boycotting Israel because according to him boycott worked in South Africa. I asked him if he stopped using the computer, Google, Facebook, Waze, etc…He told me not really. It is a “directional boycott”. So, he boycotts Israeli products that he would never buy. Wonderful. Then, I thought about South Africa. Everybody boycotted South Africa. But have any of us would have bought anything from South Africa, even without boycott? It is easy to boycott things that you actually don’t need.

    • Tamino says:

      What have you been smoking? Who wants to give Tel Aviv to the Hamas? Nobody.
      But maybe stopping the territorial occupation by building settlements after settlements on disputed land. By not anymore claiming Jerusalem as 100% belonging to Israel, against all international(UN) legislation. It’s time to stop the self-victimization and act reasonably and humanely. Try to see reality, don’t make it up. Look at it how it is. Look at the actions of the actors.

      • Roberto says:

        Tamino, Hamas wants Tel Aviv too, in case you don’t know.

        There is bigger chance to see a real Brontosaurus crossing the streets of London than Israel let go Jerusalem Old City. Get over.

    • Esfir Ross says:

      I was buying South African wine for a long time-very good. I went to college on the same street in Kishinev, Moldova, the same years as Avigdor Liberman. he drop out from his agricultural college. I feel ashamed that such monster came from my native land.

  • Duncan says:

    It’s astonishing how Barenboim talks about a legislative change that few reasonable people would accept and then the comments about everything but that.

  • Mike Schachter says:

    Barenboim’s clientele like this sort if comment.

  • simonelvladtepes says:

    Barenboim doth protest too much, methinks. Israel is in the Middle East and its legitimacy as a Jewish state in a Muslim neighborhood is constantly challenged by its neighbors specifically because it’s Jewish, you just don’t read about it. In most countries in the Middle East, there is a linkage between religion and citizenship in various forms. There are no liberal democracies in the ME.

    • Saxon Broken says:

      Sigh…the Levantine region was around 50 percent Christian in the recent past. One of the tragedies of the region is the loss of this ancient community.

    • Duncan says:

      I think Barenboim’s point is that Israel should be held to a higher standard in that it is a democracy.

      • simonelvladtepes says:

        Israel cannot comply with higher standards, so standard ME standards, please. This “higher standard” nonsense is impossible and a fig leaf for a lot of hatred, particularly from non-Zionist Jews. Zionism was in conflict with a large portion of assimilated Jews everywhere, because its claim that Jews belong in a Jewish homeland was perceived as a threat to their assimilation and expectation to be regarded as American/Polish/German/Rumanian etc. first (and Jews second, or last). This tension between Zionists and assimilated Jews were muted after the Holocaust, particularly as it became obvious that Zionists had a point, but the hostilities had to resume. The Jewish state is an ideological threat for many assimilated Jews, hence Barenboim’s venom at this law. This is a replay of an internal Jewish conflict that is more than 100 years old.

  • YoYo Mama says:

    Nobody who doesn’t live in Israel has any say about how they run their own country. No one lives in those circumstances.

  • Andres Carciente says:

    Dear Mr Barenboim! It is your attitude towards Israel that is shameful. You write that “The founding fathers of the state of Israel who signed the declaration in 1948 considered the principle of equality to be the bedrock of the society they were building. They also committed themselves “to pursue peace and good relations with all neighbouring states and people”.” What you do NOT write is that within minutes of the 1948 Declaration of Independence, Israel was attacked by all its neighbours with the intention of OBLITERATING it.They tried also in 1973! They tried but did not succeed! The law states that:
    The Land of Israel is the historic homeland of the Jewish people, in which the State
    of Israel was established.
    The State of Israel is the nation-state of the Jewish people, in which it exercises its
    natural, cultural, religious and historic right to self-determination.” Then what is all the FUSS about??? If you are ashamed about it,then there is an IDENTITY problem with you! As I mentioned in another ocassion, Mr Artur RUBINSTEIN,who was your idol(some time ago!), would be rather ASHAMED to read what you write…