Saying Farewell to Zubin Mehta, Israel’s Legendary Conductor

On Sunday, Zubin Mehta conducted the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra for what might be the last time, although his retirement does not become official until the fall. Benjamin Kerstein recounts Mehta’s career:

Mehta, the first non-Israeli citizen to win the Israel Prize and the conductor most widely identified with the Jewish state, was born in India in 1936. . . . By age twenty-five, Mehta had performed with several major European orchestras, but was at an impasse in his career. . . . In 1961, his association with Israel began when he received a telegram from the Palestinian Philharmonic Orchestra, the old name for the Israel Philharmonic, which for some reason had never been changed in official correspondence: a major conductor had fallen ill, and Mehta was recruited.

He instantly fell in love with Israel. What he called the “organized mess” he found in the country reminded him of his childhood home in Bombay. In Israel, he said, “People always speak at the same time, everyone gives advice, everyone has a firm opinion. When you open the window in Bombay, you see at the same time 5,000 people.” He said he felt, “at home.”

Mehta quickly put the orchestra through its paces, conducting a series of works that had never been performed in Israel before. . . . He was overseas when the Six-Day War broke out in 1967. Mehta canceled concerts in Paris and Budapest and flew to Tel Aviv with the help of the Israeli ambassador in Rome, who managed to get him onto an ammunition-laden cargo plane. Mehta made the journey, he said, to “stand by the state and my musicians.”

Read more at Algemeiner

More about: Classical music, Israel & Zionism, Israeli music, Six-Day War


Israel Just Sent Iran a Clear Message

Early Friday morning, Israel attacked military installations near the Iranian cities of Isfahan and nearby Natanz, the latter being one of the hubs of the country’s nuclear program. Jerusalem is not taking credit for the attack, and none of the details are too certain, but it seems that the attack involved multiple drones, likely launched from within Iran, as well as one or more missiles fired from Syrian or Iraqi airspace. Strikes on Syrian radar systems shortly beforehand probably helped make the attack possible, and there were reportedly strikes on Iraq as well.

Iran itself is downplaying the attack, but the S-300 air-defense batteries in Isfahan appear to have been destroyed or damaged. This is a sophisticated Russian-made system positioned to protect the Natanz nuclear installation. In other words, Israel has demonstrated that Iran’s best technology can’t protect the country’s skies from the IDF. As Yossi Kuperwasser puts it, the attack, combined with the response to the assault on April 13,

clarified to the Iranians that whereas we [Israelis] are not as vulnerable as they thought, they are more vulnerable than they thought. They have difficulty hitting us, but we have no difficulty hitting them.

Nobody knows exactly how the operation was carried out. . . . It is good that a question mark hovers over . . . what exactly Israel did. Let’s keep them wondering. It is good for deniability and good for keeping the enemy uncertain.

The fact that we chose targets that were in the vicinity of a major nuclear facility but were linked to the Iranian missile and air forces was a good message. It communicated that we can reach other targets as well but, as we don’t want escalation, we chose targets nearby that were involved in the attack against Israel. I think it sends the message that if we want to, we can send a stronger message. Israel is not seeking escalation at the moment.

Read more at Jewish Chronicle

More about: Iran, Israeli Security