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Famed Israeli pianist now a Palestinian, too
January 15, 2008
DANIEL Barenboim, the world renowned Israeli pianist and conductor, has taken Palestinian citizenship and said he believed his rare new status could serve as a model for peace between the two peoples.
"It is a great honour to be offered a passport," he said after a Beethoven piano recital in Ramallah, the West Bank city where he has been active for years in promoting contact between young Arab and Israeli musicians.
"I have also accepted it because I believe that the destinies of … the Israeli people and the Palestinian people are inextricably linked," Barenboim said at the weekend. "We are blessed ― or cursed ― to live with each other. And I prefer the first."
Former Palestinian information minister Mustafa Barghouthi, who helped organise the concert, said the passport had been approved by the previous Palestinian government, of which he was a member and which was replaced in June. The passport had actually been issued about six weeks ago, he said.
Argentine-born Barenboim, 65, is a controversial figure in his adoptive homeland, both for his promotion of the music of 19th-century German composer Richard Wagner ― accused of having had anti-Semitic views ― and his vocal opposition to Israel's occupation of the West Bank.
Based in Berlin, for the past decade, Barenboim has promoted Arab-Israeli cultural contacts, notably alongside the late Palestinian-American writer Edward Said.
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