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Barenboim gets guards after threats

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Right-wingers threaten bigwig conductor, a fellow Jew.

In an incident that has passed without notice in the U.S. press, notable conductor and pianist Daniel Barenboim now has bodyguards to protect him in his own country of Israel.

Barenboim (read his blog) was a pal of the late Columbia professor Edward Said, and the two forged a political link to work toward some sort of end to the Palestinian/Israeli death dance.

This is a story that you should be reading in the New York Times. But you’ll have go to Haaretz, which reports:

The renowned conductor Daniel Barenboim was seen in Jerusalem on Tuesday accompanied by bodyguards.

The Jerusalem International Chamber Music Festival, in which he is participating, has decided to step up measures to protect the high-profile musician, known for his harsh criticism of Israel’s policies toward the Palestinians, after right-wing activists rallied outside his Jerusalem residence on Monday and threatened to hurt him.

A few years ago, Barenboim was attacked by activists of the extreme right-wing Kach movement in a Jerusalem restaurant in protest of his intention to hold a concert in Ramallah.

Since Said’s death, Barenboim has continued to push, push, push. Last January, the Israeli citizen also took Palestinian citizenship, which outraged Israel’s right-wing Jews. As Haaretz reported at the time:

“It is a great honor to be offered a passport,” he said late on Saturday after a Beethoven piano recital in Ramallah, the West Bank city where he has been active for some years in promoting contact between young Arab and Israeli musicians.

“I have also accepted it because I believe that the destinies of … the Israeli people and the Palestinian people are inextricably linked,” Barenboim said. “We are blessed – or cursed – to live with each other. And I prefer the first.”

Showing that he remains familiar with U.S. politics, the honored Carnegie Hall performer also noted at the time George W. Bush‘s belated peace talk:

Though [Barenboim] dismissed any wish to play a political role, the former music director of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra took a dig at Bush’s strikingly forceful call in Jerusalem last week for Israel to end, in the president’s own words, “the occupation.”

“Now even not very intelligent people are saying that the occupation has to be stopped,” Barenboim said.