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Moral Obligation

Pianist and conductor Daniel Barenboim, in an article published on 24 July 2014 in the UK's Guardian newspaper, reiterates his long-standing conviction that there can be no military solution to the current Israeli-Palestinian conflict in Gaza. As one of the very few citizens of both Israel and Palestine, he sees the conflict as not political, but human, and solvable only if the two sides can talk about security for Israel, justice for Palestine, and begin to feel compassion (which, in Barenboim's view, should be a moral obligation) for one another.

The many comments on this article are mostly sympathetic to Barenboim's humanity and compassion, with one person suggesting that it's 'probably the most sensible article written about the problem in a long while'. The comments exhibit the usual heavily polarised views, typical of most discussion on this subject. A few claim that Barenboim is wrong about the conflict not being political, that any prospect of discussion is very far off, and that he shouldn't have the temerity to compare himself with the average Palestinian. One person predicts that Ramallah will eventually lose interest in Barenboim, and another simply advises: 'get rid of your Israeli passport Daniel'.

There can be no doubt that Barenboim, with a self-confessed heavy heart, is genuine in his wishes for the region. His family settled in Israel in 1950. With his friend, the late Palestinian American intellectual Edward Said, he founded the Barenboim-Said Foundation to develop education through music, and the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra, which brought together young Israeli and Palestinian musicians, helping to remove some of the fear of those on the other side of the wall. As the two sides in the conflict prepare tentatively for another ceasefire, we can only hope that peace, love and compassion prevail.


Posted: 1 August 2014 by Keith Bramich

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