JERUSALEM — Daniel Barenboim, the world renowned Israeli pianist and conductor, has taken Palestinian citizenship and said he believed his rare new status could serve a model for peace between the two peoples.
“It is a great honor to be offered a passport,” he said after a Beethoven piano recital in Ramallah, where he has been active for some years in promoting contact between young Arab and Israeli musicians.
“I have also accepted it because I believe that the destinies of … the Israeli people and the Palestinian people are inextricably linked,” Barenboim said. “We are blessed — or cursed — to live with each other. And I prefer the first.”
Former Palestinian Information Minister Mustafa Barghouthi, who helped organize Saturday’s concert, said the passport had been approved by the previous government of which he was a member and which was replaced in June. The passport had actually been issued about six weeks ago, he added.
Argentine-born Barenboim, 65, is a controversial figure in his adoptive homeland, both for his promotion of 19th-century composer Richard Wagner — whose music and anti-Semitic writings influenced Adolf Hitler — and vocal opposition to Israeli policies in the Palestinian territories.
Along with the late Palestinian academic Edward Said, Barenboim co-founded the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra, made up of young musicians from Israel, the Palestinian territories and neighboring Arab countries.