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Culture

Barenboim Chastises Israel for Disinterest in Palestinian Life

Argentinean-Israeli conductor Daniel Barenboim has lashed out at Israel for failing to try to understand Palestinian life. Both sides need to understand the other's history, Barenboim said.

Daniel Barenboim conducts the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra

Barenboim wants to use music to promote understanding

Speaking ahead of a performance in Berlin of the Israeli-Arab youth orchestra he co-founded in 1999, Barenboim said that Israel was "ignorant" of Palestinian life and that "it lacked curiosity" about the Palestinian people.

"A large number of Israelis have no idea what Palestinian society is," said Barenboim, who is the musical director of Berlin's showcase opera house, the Staatsoper Unter den Linden.

The 120 members of Barenboim's West-Eastern Divan Orchestra, which Barenboim established along with the late Palestinian writer Edward Said, are currently touring Europe. The group was established to help bridge cultural gaps between Israelis and Muslims.

Conflict unlikely to end soon

A Palestinian youth with his face covered stands in front of burning tires

The Israeli-Palestinian relationship is full of conflict

"The Palestinians are less ignorant about what takes place in Israel because they have been occupied by Israel for more than 40 years," Barenboim said.

"But they also don't know the history and don't understand why the Jewish people had to establish their own state following the Holocaust," he said.

Despite the recent talks between Israel and the Palestinians, the 65-year-old Barenboim does not see an early end to the Middle East conflict.

"What are happening now are not serious talks," said the Buenos Aires-born conductor and musician.

Need historical perspective

Graphic with flags and dove

Peace is elusive in the Middle East

Barenboim believes that progress can only be made in reaching a Middle East peace agreement when both parties to the conflict have an understanding for the other side's history.

"We are doomed or blessed to live together or next to each other," he said. "When that is accepted by both sides then we can start a dialogue."

In addition to Israelis and Palestinians, the musicians comprising the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra are from Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, Iran and Turkey.

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