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West Bank barrier is catastrophic,says Barenboim

6 May 2004

RAMALLAH – Visiting the West Bank city of Ramallah to promote music and encourage the formation of a Palestinian orchestra, Berlin Staatsoper musical director Daniel Barenboim said Thursday that walls do not end conflicts and their results are only catastrophic.

He was referring to the separation barrier Israel is building with the stated intention of deterring suicide bombers from entering the Jewish state.

The barrier has drawn fierce international criticism since it snakes deep into Palestinian territory, cutting farmers off from their land and isolating several villages from the rest of the West Bank.

The renowned German-Israeli musician said that whereas music knows no barriers, the fence makes the Palestinian areas unlivable.

“Those who came up with the idea of the wall show total lack of understanding as to what this conflict is about,” he said, in reference to the century-old Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

“This conflict cannot be solved through military means or artificial separation. These acts are done out of desperation or thirst for hunger, but the result is catastrophic.”

“I cannot bring down the wall even if I bring here 300 musicians” he said. “But I will do everything I can to make cultural penetration in any way possible,” he added.

Barenboim, along with the late Colombia University Professor of Palestinian origin Edward Said, established the Barenboim-Said Foundation in 1999.

Its purpose is to encourage cross-cultural music through emphasis on teaching classical music and establishing youth orchestras in the Middle East region.

Barenboim has personally contributed toward establishing the Palestinian Youth Orchestra, started in Ramallah in August of last year, in cooperation with the Palestinian National Conservatory of Music.

He announced that from September, the foundation he runs will start its first music kindergarten in Ramallah.

The establishment of the music kindergarten, according to Barenboim, is to create a generation of Palestinians who will demand that music should become part of the culture.

He said this will also contribute toward building a Palestinian civil society even before the Palestinians gain their independence because, he said, it is not wise to wait for independence first before building a strong civil society.

Barenboim said both Palestinians and Israelis should benefit from each other since they have to live on this land together. Both people have things to contribute and each should learn from the other, rather than fight, he said.

He said some Israelis hate him for coming to Ramallah and working with the Palestinians and others support him for that. “I can live with that,” he said, in a sign he is going to continue with his efforts.


Subject: German news