Forgive the absence of links, but I don’t feel like searching for them right now. Here are the basics of the story:

– Richard Wagner, though a great composer, proved that musicians should keep out of politics and social issues by spending his most popular years as an outspoken and vitriolic antisemite.
– The Nazis were inspired by Wagner. He was their touchstone in some respects.
– For many years, playing Wagner in Israel was taboo and no symphony played his music.
– Daniel Barenboim, an Argentinian-born Jew who had lived in Israel and is considered one of the finest classical musicians and conductors of this period, lobbied to play Wagner in Israel.
– After much wrangling and lots of anger and wasted newspaper ink, Barenboim foisted his personal feelings upon Israelis of all stripes by breaking the taboo and playing Wagner in Israel. He played a portion of Tristan and Isolde after arguing, from the stage, before the performance for almost an hour with members of the audience.
– Having foisted his feelings and beliefs, in the free country of Israel, upon many who didn’t want to have to deal with the disgust of having the antisemitically inspired music of a man who inspired Nazis with his music, Barenboim left Israel again to continue galivanting around the globe with his successful career.

-Edward Said was a prominent and highly regarded scholar who spent many years and many words representing the Palestinian struggle for…well, we suppose for the destruction of Israel, but that’s not what he said. He vacillated between a two state solution and a one state solution and, of course, ended up recommending the latter.
– Edward Said worked at Columbia University.
– Edward Said was a very effective scholar opposing Israel because he was well known and because he was able to couch his attacks on Israel in academic prose and supposed research and their publication.
– Edward Said lied, like Arafat, about his “Palestinian” origins.
– One could argue that much of his academic work was also built on lies, but that’s a whole other can of worms.
– I will note that “Orientalism,” his most famous work, was the catalyst for a significant shift in academe toward a different approach to studying the Arab world, Islam and the Middle East (basically he said that if ya ain’t from there, shut up and don’t pretend to be able to objectively study that world because your bias is inherent to the fabric of your being and growing up in a Western culture). Essentially, it was a big F you to most North American born and raised scholars of the day, while exhorting his own background and that of others of Middle Easters descent as the only valid one in studying the history, culture, society and politics of Middle Eastern cultures (and by extension, any culture can only be truly represented by people who came up from within it). By the way, he didn’t seem to have a problem analyzing Israel.

– Columbia University has somehow become a hotbed of anti-Israel intellectualism and instruction.
– Several professors have come under attack for their poor treatment and, in some cases, squelching of speech, by anybody who seemed to have a positive disposition about Israel.
– Some people actually caught this behavior on film.
– The university, and its President Lee Bollinger, have not done much to control the difficulties and egregious behavior described and filmed.
– The university has been getting a lot of press about this situation.

– Edward Said and Daniel Barenboim were close friends.
– Although they had many agreements about the Middle East, it was music that brought them together.

– Daniel Barenboim was invited to give the inaugural Edward Said Memorial Lecture.
– The talk was, of course, to be given at Columbia.
– The talk was intended, people thought, to be a lecture about music. After all, Barenboim is a musician.
– Barenboim, however, wanted to talk about more than music.

According to the Financial Times, his talk evolved into describing how he had to fight to play Wagner in Israel and how he believed he had succeeded in imparting a message. He then proceeded call on Israel

to accept the Palestinian “narrative even though they may not agree with it”.

“The state of Israel was supposed to provide the instrument for the end of anti-Semitism…This inability to accept a new narrative has led to a new anti-Semitism that is very different from the European anti-Semitism of the 19th century.”

– If you require a translation, this means that it’s all Israel’s fault and the curious resmblance of a lot of people harboring antisemitic feelings now to the past is actually, well, Israel’s fault.

He also added, according to the Financial Times,

“You cannot have equality without freedom and you cannot have freedom without brotherhood. And this is what Edward and I tried to do, in a completely non-violent way.”

– Translation: since both men were very well off and had their own stylish pads, they never had to fight over who gets the apartment and thus were able to resolve differences over some sweets and tea while discussing, in a very genteel manner, the music that was, err, rocking their world.

The New York Times, gave a little more detail about Barenboim’s pronouncements on music how the Israelis are shits and the Palestinians are not:

Mr. Barenboim said Wagner’s anti-Jewish vitriol had to be placed in the context of 19th-century European nationalist feeling. He said that he understood the pain of Holocaust survivors but that it was hypocritical to keep Wagner off the concert stage when audio and video recordings of his work were available, and even cellphones in Israel rang with “The Ride of the Walkyries.”

He blamed the taboo on a lingering sense of minority status and victimhood. “It is this fear, this conviction of being yet again the victim, that does not allow the Israeli public to accept Wagner’s anti-Semitism,” Mr. Barenboim said. “It is the same cell in the collective brain that does not allow them to make progress in their understanding of the needs of the Palestinian people.”

Mr. Barenboim said that the failure of the Israeli government to accept the Palestinians’ “narration” had led to a new wave of anti-Semitism, and that suicide bombings in Israel had “to be seen in the context of the historical development at which we have arrived.”

– Translation of Part A: Jews are drama queens. They are such drama queens that their unique Jewish brains, as expressed in their society, do not allow them to stop being afraid of, uh, you know, people who hate Jews and were effective at killing off one-third of all of them on the planet.

…And therefore they can’t “understand” the Palestinians’ needs.

If you understand the logical leap here, you should be studying for a Ph.D in philosophy. Preferably at Columbia University.

– Translation of Part B: Suicide bombings are the fault of the Jewish mindset as expressed by Israeli society.

Needless to say, suicide bombings in Sri Lanka, Bali and Iraq were not part of Barenboim’s discussion because Sri Lankans allow Wagner to be played in their symphony houses.

How did the People of the Warped Victimhood Brains Book describe the evening? With the kind of mindset that leads to war and suicide bombings. How else?

Conclusion?

– Columbia has idiots running the place and allowing this type of speech to be given while its very integrity as an institution is being questioned.
– The President of Columbia has no balls.
– Said remains with us after his death.
– Barenboim has a twisted view of the universe that makes little sense.
– Musicians should just play their music and stop giving speeches – would you ask Mick Jagger or Celine Dion to give lectures about British or Quebecois politics at respected universities?

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themiddle

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