Man storms stage interrupting symposium on composer associated with Nazis

Discussion marking 200th anniversary of the birth of Wagner interrupted by man hurling insults at the audience.

Richard Wagner 370 (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
Richard Wagner 370
(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
Incensed that infamous anti-Semite and storied composer Richard Wagner was the subject of a public symposium marking his 200th birthday at the Jerusalem Theater on Tuesday evening, a Jewish man shouted expletives, charged the stage and sang Israel’s national anthem in protest.
According to a police spokesman on Wednesday, shortly after the discussion began at 8 p.m., the man created a scene by screaming, barreling past security guards and jumping on the stage, before proceeding to sing “Hatikva.”
Described as powerfully built and in his mid-30s, the man refused to get off the stage, referred to an usher who attempted to detain him as a “Nazi collaborator,” and shouted insults at the audience, resulting in their exodus from the theater until police arrived.
Upon arriving at the scene, police promptly removed the man, questioned him and later released him without pressing charges, police said.
After calm was restored, the orchestra’s French conductor and musical director, Frederic Chaslin, said the discussion, and an accompanying Wednesday concert featuring Wagner’s German influences – including Beethoven, Weber, Debussy and Chausson – were not intended as a celebration of Wagner.
“I didn’t want to celebrate his birthday – that was not the idea… [but] the Jewish spirit is 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 Wednesday concert was subsequently canceled due to poor ticket sales. However, Stern claimed that the concert would have likely sold out had Wagner’s music been included.
“Had we played Wagner, I’m sure that the auditorium would have been overbooked,” he told Reuters. “But since [it was] around Wagner, I don’t think we will hold another concert of this type in the near future.”
Wagner’s music is unofficially banned in Israel due to its use as propaganda by Adolf Hitler in the genocide of 6 million Jews during World War II.