Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Wagner, Herzl, Israel, Palestine & Barenboim

Daniel Barenboim interprets Wagner in relation to Israel and the Arabs:-

...The entire Wagner debate in Israel is linked to the fact that steps toward a Jewish Israeli identity have not been taken. All concerned continue to cling to past associations that were absolutely understandable and justified at the time. It is as if they wanted, by so doing, to remind themselves of their own Judaism. Perhaps this is the same fact that does not allow many Israelis to see the Palestinians as citizens with equal rights.
When one continues to uphold the Wagner taboo today in Israel, it means, in a certain respect, that we are giving Hitler the last word, that we are acknowledging that Wagner was indeed a prophet and predecessor of Nazi anti-Semitism, and that he can be held accountable, even if only indirectly, for the final solution.
This view is unworthy of Jewish listeners. They should rather be influenced by such great Jewish thinkers as Spinoza, Maimonides, and Martin Buber than by half-baked dogmas.

His frame of reference is
Wagner’s conclusion about the Jew- ish problem was not only verbally similar to Herzl’s; 
and excuses him, illogically:
Wagner may have been the most important personal and ideological model for Adolf Hitler, a kind of “predecessor,” as Joachim Fest writes in his biography of Hitler. Hitler called him “the greatest prophet ever possessed by the German people,” and took on Wagner’s mythology as a component of Nazi ideology. Nevertheless, as revolting as Wagner’s anti-Semitism may be, one can hardly hold him responsible for Hitler’s use and abuse of his music and his worldviews.

Of course one can, for if he wasn't anti-Semitic, he wouldn't have been Hitler's model.

Barenboim is being stupid.
Read it all.


1 comment:

Witch-king of Angmar said...

Barenboim is indeed wrong, but in another way. Wagner was not a political influence on Hitler to begin with. Hitler never mentioned Wagner in such context, in public or in private. In "My struggle" Wagner is mentioned a grand total of twice, neither of which as an antisemite. The often quoted statement of needing to understand Wagner in order to understand nazi Germany is apocryphal at best since neither of the two people who first reported it, William Shirer and Otto David Tolischus, have never personally heard Hitler say it(and even if the quote is authentic Hitler merely saying it does not actually make Wanger a precursor). Hitler's private library which contained almost 1300 books had not one by Wagner. Also, contrary to popular belief, the performances of Wagner in Germany significantly declined from the moment Hitler took over, in 1939 being less then two thirds of what they were in 1933. One of the dramas "Parsifal" was in fact subject to underhand dicouragement of staging(though not outright banned as once thought) so much so that once the war began it was taken off the Bayreuth repertoire because some of the more insightful Nazis saw, not without justification, pacifist undertones in it. And there is more to dispell this myth...

Back to the article you posted: the irony of it all is that in it Barenboim is using Wagner for his own political ends far more overtly and brazenly then Hitler ever did.