- The Washington Times - Friday, September 2, 2005

JERUSALEM — Israel’s education minister yesterday denounced Daniel Barenboim as a “real anti-Semite” after the conductor refused to grant an interview to an Israel Army Radio reporter during a book promotion because she wore a military uniform.

The Jewish conductor was approached Thursday by reporter Dafna Arad during an event for a book he wrote with the late Palestinian intellectual Edward Said.

Mr. Barenboim’s snub outraged Education Minister Limor Livnat, who denounced the conductor as “a real Jew-hater, a real anti-Semite.”

Mr. Barenboim, who was born in Argentina and raised in Israel, has had frequent spats with Israel’s government. Last year, he angered officials when he criticized the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza as he accepted the prestigious Wolf Prize in a speech to Israel’s parliament.

Last month, Mr. Barenboim brought his West-Eastern Divan Orchestra, comprising musicians from Israel, the Palestinian territories and neighboring Arab countries, to the West Bank city of Ramallah for a concert in memory of Mr. Said.

On Thursday, Miss Arad tried to interview Mr. Barenboim at the book promotion in a hotel in the Jewish neighborhood of Yemin Moshe in western Jerusalem. Miss Arad was wearing her uniform, as is the custom for Israeli Army Radio reporters still serving their mandatory military service.

“I wanted to interview Barenboim very much and to ask him about the concert he conducted in Ramallah last week, about his musical vision and more. But he wouldn’t agree to talk to me, and started signing the book. I insisted. Then he said he refused to be interviewed by a soldier in a uniform and that he will agree to talk to me only if I come to him in civilian clothes,” Miss Arad said on Israeli Army Radio.

She said when she protested that she had no choice but to wear the uniform, Mr. Barenboim pulled on her epaulets and yelled at her.

Miss Arad did not play the tape of Mr. Barenboim’s snub, but the conductor, in a telephone interview with Israeli Army Radio yesterday, did not deny the incident. He defended his actions.

“Anti-Semitic? What is anti-Semitic about it? When I say that a uniform should be worn to the right places and not to the wrong ones, there is nothing anti-Semitic about it, there is no logic to this claim,” Mr. Barenboim said.

“I just thought that in this place, discussing a book written together with a Palestinian, it shows lack of sensitivity.”

Yuval Steinitz, chairman of parliament’s Defense and Foreign Affairs Committee, accused Mr. Barenboim of being ungrateful, saying Israel “exists thanks to those who wear uniforms.”

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