The Cultural Elites in Israel Are Sick



By Ariel Natan Pasko

True, cultural elites in most western countries today are anti-nationalist, anti-traditional, and tend toward degrading whatever general society holds in esteem, but it still hurts me to see this degenerate phenomenon in Israel. After recently awarding the prestigious 2004 Israel Prize to the Judeo-pathic Israeli artist Yigal Tumarkin; now the Israeli "guardians of culture" have decided to honor Israeli pianist and conductor Daniel Barenboim, with the 2004 Wolf Prize, even though he is an admirer of Nazi Germany's favorite musician. Barenboim is currently the musical director of the State Opera House in Berlin and of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and an inveterate Wagner perpetrator.

Once, art, music and literature, were produced in Israel to build up national identity in the fledgling Jewish State. Jews were returning home after nearly 2,000 years of abusive exile, and they wanted to reconstitute their own independent national - Hebrew - culture. Though sometimes at odds with the traditional Jewish religious establishment, the New Hebrew - "Israeli" - culture drew heavily from Jewish, and especially biblical sources. But today, the cultural elites in Israel have spurned "Jewishness" for a more secular global identity. They've even become self-hating.

When an artist like Tumarkin can create pieces like, a pig wearing "Tefilin" (phylacteries worn by Jewish men during prayer), and a lithograph of an aerial view of Jerusalem's Old City, with a huge thumbprint superimposed over it, written in pen on the top commenting, "From June 1967 Jerusalem started to turn ugly. Why? It's a fact," and be awarded the Israel Prize, you know that the "gurus of Israeli culture" have lost it. The pig is the most disgusting animal in Judaism, and the Holy City of Jerusalem is held dear by nearly all Jews.

Tumarkin has said, "When you see the "Haredim" - ultra-Orthodox Jews - you can understand why there was a Holocaust," justifying Nazi anti-Semitism. Tumarkin hasn't gained his reputation for works of art, so much as for his habit of lashing out at religious Jews, right-wingers, and Sephardim, whomever he dislikes. He once said, he wished he had gunned down Israeli politicians on the right, Raphael Eitan and Rechavam Ze'evi. Tumarkin has also remarked that his "true contribution will be the taking of a submachine gun instead of pen and pencil, and killing the religious settlers on the West Bank." Tumarkin has also stated that he doesn't feel there's a need for a Jewish State.

In his petition to Israel's Supreme Court - trying to stop the prize to Tumarkin - National Religious Party Member of Knesset Shaul Yahalom wrote, "It is unreasonable that a man, as an artist and as a sculptor, whose actions bordered on criminal activity, who acted violently towards his family, disrespected people and the values of the Jewish people and made racist and anti-Semitic remarks, will receive in a democratic Jewish state the Israel Prize."

Yet he was just awarded the 2004 Israel Prize for sculpture...

One of Barenboim's many sins is that he forcibly played Richard Wagner's music at the 2001 Israel Festival in Israel, after earlier agreeing not to do so.

And why was he asked not to play Wagner?

Because, when chosen to play at the festival, his announcement that he intended to break the Israeli taboo and play Wagner created such a controversy in Israeli society, that the festival organizers decided to cancel his performance, until he agreed not to play it.

Wagner, was a known anti-Semite, his music was revered by Hitler and the Nazi leadership, and commonly played in Concentration Camps. Wagner's music has been "persona non grata" in Israel for decades; it still brings back horrible memories to many in Israel, especial Holocaust survivors.  

Yet Barenboim, in a flash of "I know better than you" cultural elitism, chose to disregard his prior commitment to the Israel Festival Committee, and play Wagner as an encore anyhow.

Barenboim is also an outspoken supporter of the so-called Palestinians. He's been to Ramallah in Samaria - the West Bank - several times to play concerts and give musical workshops, although Israel is at war with them. Barenboim has said he knows that some Israelis hate him for going to Ramallah and working with the Palestinians, "I can live with that," he's said in defiance. Barenboim recently promised to help "Palestinian" children learn classical music, while backing their demand for a state of their own. He said that he would contribute the US$50,000 award to a "Palestinian" music conservatory in Ramallah.

But the Wolf Prize Committee, like the Israel Prize Committee before it, chose to honor one of the "beautiful people," who don't care how much they hurt Jews or insult Israeli society.

The Israel Prize is the most highly regarded award in Israel. Under the auspices of the Education Ministry, it was first awarded in 1953, and has been awarded every year since then on Israeli Independence Day. The prize is presented to the recipient before members of the Knesset, the Prime Minister, the President, and members of the Supreme Court of Israel.

Although the Wolf Foundation - that awards the prize - has the status of a private non-profit organization, and the prize money comes from the annual income of the foundation's investments, it has the status of a quasi-governmental prize. The award rules are embodied in the 'Wolf-Foundation Law-1975," approved by the Knesset, and the Foundation is subject to the control of the State Comptroller of Israel. The prizes are awarded in the Chagall Hall of the Knesset, with the participation of the Speaker of the Knesset, the Minister of Education, who is the Chairman of the Council of the Wolf Foundation, Trustees, and members of the Council. The diploma and honorarium are presented to the recipients by the President of the State of Israel.

In protest over the awarding of the prize to Barenboim, Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin, earlier announced that he would boycott the 2004 Wolf Prize award ceremony. The Simon Wiesenthal Center in Jerusalem - that fights global anti-Semitism - backed up Rivlin's boycott of Barenboim, because Barenboim "aroused the ire of so many Israelis by playing music [composed] by the notoriously anti-Semitic composer."

Wiesenthal Center Director Dr. Efraim Zuroff said that Barenboim's violating the agreement not to play Wagner at any publicly funded concert, indicated "not only his lack of integrity, but also his unbridled arrogance and extreme lack of tolerance." Zuroff called Barenboim's act "cultural rape" and decried Barenboim's "obsessive efforts to force his views on the Israeli public and to demonstratively and derisively ignore the feelings of the majority of Israelis who are offended by the playing of [Wagner's works]."

This is the sickness of the cultural elites in Israel today, "They know better, and to hell with what society thinks."

Tumarkin only has to be disgusting, perverse, degrade all that is holy and beautiful, and have the artistic talent of a four-year-old to get noticed. Become self-promoting, attack the competition, cry foul, attack Haredim and "settlers," question the legitimacy of Israel itself, and they drown him in accolade, awarding him Israel's most prestigious prize.

Barenboim - admittedly a great musician - but a lousy politician, acts insultingly and hurtful to great numbers of Israelis, supports the enemy - the "Palestinians" - in wartime, and ditto, the "culture gurus" drown him in accolade, awarding him the Wolf Prize.

Tumarkin and Barenboim also have another similarity; both have broken the post-Holocaust Israeli taboo of a Jew returning to Germany. Tumarkin moved from Israel to Germany to learn art in the 1950s. Barenboim once described in his autobiography how, when in 1954 he was asked by the conductor Wilhelm Furtwangler to play with the Berlin Philharmonic, his father said no. It was too soon after the war for a Jewish boy to travel from Israel to Germany. Yet today Barenboim is the musical director of the State Opera House in Berlin. Both seem to have chosen to overlook Germany's Nazi past.

Once, the arts, tried to portray "the good, the true, and the beautiful," and Jewish artists, writers, and musicians used their talents to "redeem" Judaism and Jewish culture from its millennia long exile among the nations. Hebrew culture was dignified, uplifting and full of hope.

No more, today's "beautiful people" in Israel or as they're called in Hebrew, "yofay nefesh," i.e. the beautiful souls, deliberately try to disgust and degrade, to hurt and incite. Long detached from Jewish culture and values, Israel's "artsy-craftsy" elite, promote love for the enemy in wartime, and hatred of other Jews, not just like them. Israel's cultural elites have virtually abandoned support for an independent Jewish State, regularly delegitimizing Israel, while supporting the "Palestinians," and lionize people like Tumarkin and Barenboim.

These "beautiful people" have internalized all the millennia long Jew-hatred of the Judeo-paths, anti-Semites, and Nazis among the nations and turned it on their fellow Jews. These "beautiful people" have turned ugly...

The cultural elites in Israel today are very sick.

The struggle for Israel and Jewish survival isn't just political, military, or economic, but also over the "soul" of Israel, i.e. a cultural struggle.