Don’t Fall for Daniel Barenboim’s Latest Provocations

Sept. 1 2015

The conductor and pianist Daniel Barenboim—an Israeli citizen who lives and works in Germany—has a history of instigating controversy, whether by co-authoring a book about Israel with Edward Said or performing Wagner in Jerusalem. Ruthie Blum cautions against making too much of his most recent leftish stunt: trying to arrange for the Berlin State Opera, or at least its orchestra, to perform in Iran. She writes:

[I]t is pointless for the Israeli culture minister, Miri Regev, to make a stink about [Barenboim’s] latest maneuver, as she has been doing. In the first place, Barenboim is not the only one desiring entry into Iran right now. A German delegation has already graced the place; the UK has reopened its embassy in Tehran; and businessmen and “rapprochement” fantasists alike have been flocking in droves for a foothold there.

And Barenboim’s overall ideology makes him an obvious member of the lunatic left, which ostensibly champions human rights while apologizing for the greatest abusers of it.

Furthermore, in light of repeated statements from Iranian officials reiterating the regime’s intention to destroy Israel and [its] view of America as the “Great Satan”—an enemy with which it signed a pact enabling it to proceed with its nuclear-weapons program—Barenboim’s advances could well be rejected. He is a Jew with Israeli citizenship.

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Read more at Israel Hayom

More about: Arts & Culture, Classical music, Germany, Iran, Israel, Opera

Iran, America, and the Future of Democracy in the Middle East

Nov. 23 2022

Sixty-two days after the death of Mahsa Amini at the hands of the Islamic Republic’s police, the regime has failed to quash the protest movement. But it is impossible to know if the tide will turn, and what the outcome of the government’s collapse might be. Reuel Marc Gerecht considers the very real possibility that a democratic Iran will emerge, and considers the aftershocks that might follow. (Free registration required.)

American political and intellectual elites remain uneasy with democracy promotion everywhere primarily because it has failed so far in the Middle East, the epicenter of our attention the last twenty years. (Iraq’s democracy isn’t dead, but it didn’t meet American expectations.) Might our dictatorial exception for Middle Eastern Muslims change if Iran were to set in motion insurrections elsewhere in the Islamic world, in much the same way that America’s response to 9/11 probably helped to produce the rebellions against dictatorship that started in Tunisia in 2010? The failure of the so-called Arab Spring to establish one functioning democracy, the retreat of secular democracy in Turkey, and the implosion of large parts of the Arab world have left many wondering whether Middle Eastern Muslims can sustain representative government.

In 1979 the Islamic revolution shook the Middle East, putting religious militancy into overdrive and tempting Saddam Hussein to unleash his bloodiest war. The collapse of Iran’s theocracy might be similarly seismic. Washington’s dictatorial preference could fade as the contradictions between Arab tyranny and Persian democracy grow.

Washington isn’t yet invested in democracy in Iran. Yet, as Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has often noted, American hostility toward the Islamic Republic has been damaging. If the theocracy falls, Iranians will surely give America credit—vastly more credit that they will give to the European political class, who have been trying to make nice, and make money, with the clerical regime since the early 1990s—for this lasting enmity. We may well get more credit than we deserve. Both Democrats and Republicans who have dismissed the possibilities of democratic revolutions among the Muslim peoples of the Middle East will still, surely, claim it eagerly.

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Read more at Dispatch

More about: Arab democracy, Democracy, Iran, Middle East, U.S. Foreign policy