* German composer Wagner's anti-Semitism inspired Adolf
* Event intended to mark Richard Wagner's 200th birthday
* Wagner's music is unofficially banned in Israel
By Ori Lewis
JERUSALEM, Dec 17 A crazed Israeli protester,
angered that a symposium on Tuesday focussed on Richard Wagner,
Adolf Hitler's favourite composer, disrupted a public discussion
at a Jerusalem concert hall before police removed him.
The event, and a planned concert on Wednesday which was
cancelled earlier because of bad weather, aimed to mark the
200th year of the birth of Wagner, whose anti-Semitic ideology
inspired Hitler's National Socialist ethos.
Wagner's music is unofficially banned in Israel and the
Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra was not going to play any of his
works on Wednesday. But the concert was called off because it
was unable to complete rehearsals due to a heavy weekend
snowstorm and poor ticket sales, an orchestra official said.
Wagner has for decades raised the ire of some Israelis and
Holocaust survivors, who say his works carry echoes of Nazi
Germany's slaughter of six million Jews during World War Two.
In getting around the unofficial ban on playing Wagner in
Israel, the concert was to have included works by composers who
influenced the German composer or were influenced by him, among
them Beethoven, Weber, Debussy and Chausson.
Ushers struggled to restrain the protester, who gave his
name as Ran Carmi, a strongly built man in his late 30s. He
stormed the stage, sang the Israeli national anthem and then
stayed put as audience members shouted at him to leave.
He referred to at least one usher as a "Nazi collaborator"
and hurled abuse at those in attendance.
The small audience of some 70 people eventually abandoned
the Henry Crown Symphony Hall, leaving Carmi facing 765 empty
seats until police arrived and removed him through a side
After calm was restored, panel member Michael Wolpe, an
Israeli composer, said Carmi had carried out an act of thuggery
by trying to silence a learned discussion. He likened it to
Wagner's own behaviour.
"What this thug did to us today is what Wagner did to
(Giacomo) Meyerbeer with total success, wiping out any memory of
his existence," Wolpe said.
Wagner was known to despise Meyerbeer, a Jewish-born German
contemporary who wrote a number of grand operas that are today
far less well known that Wagner's own works.
NOT A CELEBRATION
The orchestra's French conductor and music director,
Frederic Chaslin, said the discussion and the concert were not
intended as a celebration of Wagner, but were a good opportunity
to air the problematic history of the composer.
"I didn't want to celebrate his birthday, that was not the
idea ... (but) the Jewish spirit to study a problem, not to
ignore it ... so if we ignore the fact that Wagner (was born)
200 years ago, we ignore a big problem that is part of this
society," Chaslin told Reuters.
The orchestra's director general, Yair Stern, said the
concert probably would not be rescheduled because only a few
tickets were sold. But he said he thought there would have been
huge demand had Wagner's music been on the programme.
"Had we played Wagner, I'm sure that the auditorium would
have been over-booked. But since (the concert was) around Wagner
... I don't think we will hold another concert of this type in
the near future," Stern said.
(Writing by Ori Lewis; Editing by Dan Grebler)