JERUSALEM - A crazed Israeli protester, angered that a
symposium on Tuesday focused on Richard Wagner, Adolf Hitler's favorite
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
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
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
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 entrance.
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.