- Associated Press - Monday, October 15, 2012

JERUSALEM (AP) - Israel’s president has recognized Indian-born conductor Zubin Mehta for his contributions to Israeli society.

Mehta, music director for life of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, on Monday received Israel’s Presidential Medal of Distinction. Other winners have included Henry Kissinger.

Mehta has been the philharmonic’s director since 1977. He was also the longest-serving director of the New York Philharmonic.

In 2009, he started a music education program, Mifneh, which is Hebrew for “turning point,” for Israel’s Arab citizens.

Mehta said at Monday’s ceremony that “if you can sing together, you can live together.”

President Shimon Peres, a Nobel peace laureate, praised Mehta for his message of peace.

Peres said: “Israel used to be a drama, you made us into a dramatic symphony without compromising one for the other. You harmonized us.”

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