How anti-Semitism continues to hover over present-day Israel (in a form that isn’t solely focused on faux paranoia with Palestinians):
Nearly 130 years after his death, Richard Wagner still provokes a maelstrom of emotions. Katharina Wagner, the German composer’s great-granddaughter, has pulled out of a trip to Israel where she was to announce that the Israel Chamber Orchestra would be invited to open the next season of the prestigious Bayreuth festival, the annual celebration of Wagner’s music.
Ms Wagner cancelled the trip after the orchestra’s participation was leaked to the Israeli media, prompting a hostile reaction in Israel. Wagner is widely shunned there for his anti-Semitic writings, which drew admiration from Adolf Hitler. Israeli orchestras have largely honoured a seven-decade boycott of Wagner’s work, partly out of respect for Holocaust survivors, who claim Jews were sent to the gas chambers while Wagner was played in the background.
Ms Wagner’s decision will not affect the ensemble’s participation at Bayreuth next year, which will be the first time an Israeli orchestra has taken part in the month-long festival.
“The decision [to take part] was not to break a taboo,” Erella Talmi, who chairs the Israeli orchestra’s board of directors, told Israel Radio. “The decision was to accept an invitation that showed a new openness.”