In Jerusalem, an Ideal Audience for Chamber Music

Oct. 11 2016

Visiting Palestine in 1936, the famed conductor Arturo Toscanini commented that “even the peasants here know music.” (The peasants in question were in fact German doctors- and lawyers-turned-kibbutzniks.) Reviewing September’s Jerusalem International Chamber Music Festival, Norman Lebrecht argues that Israel can still provide “what every musician seeks most, namely a public that is as passionate and knowledgeable as himself.”

The first thing [performers at the festival] encounter is silence. In four days of concerts, twice a day, I did not hear a single cough. “The best concentration anywhere,” says Elena Bashkirova, the festival’s artistic director. Programs are unyieldingly highbrow. Concerts contain at least five major works and last two-and-a- half hours. There are no encores. The public leaves the premises deep in thought. “The quality of the public is unique,” says Bashkirova. “If I put on something difficult, . . . they don’t complain. On the contrary, people come to me and say, ‘Please keep doing this, we want to learn.’” . . .

Bashkirova thinks her ideal audience arises from a particular Jerusalem tension which drives the rest of the world to distraction. She may well be right. But I can’t help blaming a music industry that reduced the art to ubiquity. We are never more than an arm’s length away from a masterpiece, on record or online. We are never more than a short flight away from any piece we might wish to hear. Music has lost value. We have forgotten the effort that it requires, as performer and listener. I found it again in Jerusalem.

Read more at Standpoint

More about: Arts & Culture, Classical music, Israel & Zionism, Jerusalem

Iran’s Four-Decade Strategy to Envelope Israel in Terror

Yesterday, the head of the Shin Bet—Israel’s internal security service—was in Washington meeting with officials from the State Department, CIA, and the White House itself. Among the topics no doubt discussed are rising tensions with Iran and the possibility that the latter, in order to defend its nuclear program, will instruct its network of proxies in Gaza, the West Bank, Lebanon, Syria, and even Iraq and Yemen to attack the Jewish state. Oved Lobel explores the history of this network, which, he argues, predates Iran’s Islamic Revolution—when Shiite radicals in Lebanon coordinated with Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini’s movement in Iran:

An inextricably linked Iran-Syria-Palestinian axis has actually been in existence since the early 1970s, with Lebanon the geographical fulcrum of the relationship and Damascus serving as the primary operational headquarters. Lebanon, from the 1980s until 2005, was under the direct military control of Syria, which itself slowly transformed from an ally to a client of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) following the collapse of the Soviet Union. The nexus among Damascus, Beirut, and the Palestinian territories should therefore always have been viewed as one front, both geographically and operationally. It’s clear that the multifront-war strategy was already in operation during the first intifada years, from 1987 to 1993.

[An] Iranian-organized conference in 1991, the first of many, . . . established the “Damascus 10”—an alliance of ten Palestinian factions that rejected any peace process with Israel. According to the former Hamas spokesperson and senior official Ibrahim Ghosheh, he spoke to then-Hizballah Secretary-General Abbas al-Musawi at the conference and coordinated Hizballah attacks from Lebanon in support of the intifada. Further important meetings between Hamas and the Iranian regime were held in 1999 and 2000, while the IRGC constantly met with its agents in Damascus to encourage coordinated attacks on Israel.

For some reason, Hizballah’s guerilla war against Israel in Lebanon in the 1980s and 1990s was, and often still is, viewed as a separate phenomenon from the first intifada, when they were in fact two fronts in the same battle.

Israel opted for a perilous unconditional withdrawal from Lebanon in May 2000, which Hamas’s Ghosheh asserts was a “direct factor” in precipitating the start of the second intifada later that same year.

Read more at Australia/Israel Review

More about: First intifada, Hizballah, Iran, Palestinian terror, Second Intifada