Gustavo Dudamel is reflecting on whether he will visit Israel again after twice being subjected to prolonged and uncomfortable interrogations on entering and leaving the country at Ben Gurion Airport.
It appears that the star conductor was singled out as a citizen of Venezuela, whose president, Hugo Chavez, is notably aggressive towards Israel. Dudamel was subjected to tedious, hostile and intrusive questions from immigration and Shin bet agents.
The Israel Philharmonic has sought to shift the blame, saying that Dudamel should have been carrying his letter of invitation from the orchestra. We are assured that he was carrying the letter. What’s more, a representative of the orchestra was with him from the moment he left the plane. He should not have been treated in this way, and is owed an apology by the Israeli authorities. I hope they have the decency and commonsense to offer one.
The IPO is at fault – if not on Dudamel’s arrival, then certainly on his departure – for failing to ensure that its guest was treated with appropriate courtesy and dignity. He is not the first to fall foul of B-G’s tight security. We hear that Zubin Mehta, longtime music director of the Israel Phil, has had trouble getting through on occasion.
In a statement to Slipped Disc this morning, issued via his agent, Gustavo Dudamel said: ‘These matters are both unpleasant and very unfortunate. I love making music with the Israel Philharmonic and we hope to find ways of working with them in the future.’
Dudamel is music director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the Simon Bolivar orchestras. He is in demand as a guest conductor in Berlin, Vienna and La Scala. Israel may have to wait its turn, next time round.