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Kennedy’s latest gig? Jewish music in Krakow

I had the thrill this morning of meeting Israel Zamir, son of the Nobel novelist Isaac Bashevis Singer, with whom I once talked for a night and a day atop a Swiss mountain – long story). Israel is in Poland with his daughter Meirav for a week-long festival of Jewish culture that is staged annually in Singer’s memory.

It’s mostly a talk-fest. But people were quick to inform me of the one musical highlight: Nigel Kennedy playing a klezmer concert with his Krakow band. Funny old world.

nigel kennedy bbc proms

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  1. Michael Haslam says:

    Why would there be any question of conflict or hypocrisy between someone’s views on the current policies of the state of Israel towards its Palestinian citizens and refugees and their love of Jewish music and culture? Your “funny old world” comment would seem to imply that you consider there is.

    • The “current policies of the state of Israel towards its Palestinian citizens” is that the one million+ arab citizens of Israel have full voting rights and participation at all levels of society, inclusing high-ranking positions in the government, the police, and the military,

      That Palestinians in Gaza and the West bank are not — and do not want to be — Israeli citizens. they have elected as their government people who have sworn — and tried — to destroy Israel, and they have allowed terrorists to repeatedly murder Israeli civilians in their names.

      these facts are easily verifiable. You need to stop automatically accepting that which “everybody knows”.

    • Exactly, I would even go as far as stating that anyone who truly loves Israel MUST criticize it’s current government and their policies.

      • Well, once again you left out some words. It would be more accurate to say that you believe that people should criticize the current government and what you’re sure MUST be its policies.

        I keep hoping that Israel-haters will actually read the history…and I keep being disappointed.

        • You’re damn right… Regretfully, most of those who are Israel-haters know almost nothing about Israel or living in Israel (and Mr. Nigel Kennedy is no exception), and know nothing or almost nothing about Jews, Judaism or whatsoever. So, Mr. Kennedy’s “interpretations” of traditional or popular Jewish music are not a cultural choice, but just a rethorical gesture with very personal and political overtones. Not casually, those “interpretations” are very bland and almost meaningless under an idiomatic point of view.

          • Neil van der Linden says:

            Again, when you might even suggest criticism of Israel (in this case by just mentioning the word apartheid in a phrase about the quest for peace and tolerance), be sure that the whole has bara army will try to burn your whole artistry to the ground. Blackwash.

          • Moshe Teitelbaum says:

            Oy, Oy, Oy, Gianni and Jeffrey, since when do you call someone who just evoked the love of Israel an Israel hater? Shame on you, you are meschugge.

          • Yeah, if you could point out where I did so, and if *claiming* to love Israel were the same as loving it (or, in my case, just supporting its right to exist), you’d have a much better point.

            It’s not uncommon, by the way, for Israel-haters to claim to “love Israel, but….”, just as it’s not uncommon for anti-semites to adopt Jewish-sounding screen names and insert the one or two Jewish or Yiddish words they know.

          • Michael Schaffer says:

            Akh Jeffrele du zol nisht nu a sakh shmontses kvetchn!

    • What do you mean for Palestinian citizens of the State of Israel? You mean Israeli-Arabs? Are you so sure they’re mistreated and/or persecuted? And what do you really know of the issue of “refugees” in Israel? It seems you’re using some terms pretty lightly and with no specific knowledge. But I’m sure you feel that you know and love Jewish culture… That’s typical: commemorating the memory of the Holocaust and then defining Israeli Jews (as far as I’m concerned, Israel is a Jewish homeland) like Nazis or members of an aparheid gang and so forth. Regretfully, when I face certain biased prose (like some ridiculous declarations by Mr. Nigel Kennedy) I feel that the authors not only do not have any love for the Jewish culture, slso they don’t have any resl knowledge of it. They just use such pale excuses in order to be venomous about Israelis without sounding what most of the are: anti-Semites.

    • True, i didn’t notice any anti-Jewish sentiments expressed by Kennedy or maybe i’ve missed something.
      I watched some of the concert and found his performance manner excruciating.

    • stanley cohen says:


  2. Moishe Baumann says:

    I agree with the first comment. This is not a contradiction at all. It is only a contradiction if you allege a hidden antisemitic agenda, which – since you’ve claimed that you know Nigel – is out of the question.

  3. What is “funny”? Nigel isn’t the most coherent of commentators but his views on Israel are widely held by many who still love and respect Jewish traditions and Jewish culture. Please lets continue to make a firm distinction between Judaism, Yiddishkeit and Zionism. I hope and trust that Simon Schama will do so in his new BBC television series.

    • “his views on Israel are widely held by many who still love and respect Jewish traditions and Jewish culture.”

      …But not so much that they actually take the time to learn what’s really happening there.

  4. Mary East says:

    very wise words. There is today an enormous difference between being
    passionate about Jewish culture. and problems with Israel.

  5. Daniel Mullin says:

    I’m beginning to wonder if posting 5, 6 or 7 posts on the same theme after an incident on Aug 8th could be classed as an unhealthy obsession? Certainly more of a “diatribe” than the one sentence Mr. Kennedy uttered.

    • Israel can’t be spokesman on all cultural Jewish subject and Israel is not the only Jewish state. There Jewish Autonomy region that exist inside Russia from 1932, way before state of Israel was established by decree of UN. The official language is Yiddish and purveyor of Jewish culture. No conflict of Nigel Kennedy to play Jewish music. Esfir Ross

    • Given the sheer mass of anti-Israel propaganda out there, 5, 6, or 7 posts are not very many.

      • Given the sheer mass of pro-Israel propaganda out there, the sheer mass of anti-Isreal propaganda should be just as acceptable to you.

        • Really? You think there’s as much pro-Israel stuff out there as there is anti-Israel? When news articles typically have headlines such as “Israel raids Gaza” with scant mention of the fact that the raid is on Hamas bases that have been launching rockets at Israeli civilians…and of course the 10,000+ rocket attacks also were not reported on when they occurred; they’re only mentioned, below the fold, when Israel strikes back at the rocket bases.

          An excellent example is the Turkish ship that was tempted to run the blockade a few years ago. What you didn’t read in the news:

          It’s not much of a blockade. All Israel insists is that the ships be inspected for weapons (see the 10,000+ rockets mentioned above) and items which can be weaponized.

          The Israeli commandos only fired after they were attacked with bats and metal rods, and one was dropped 30′ from one deck to another.

  6. Neil van der Linden says:

    I am sure Norman sees just the irony of it all, and the heated debates on Kennedy’s performance with Palestinian musicians, and yes, making some statement, and him being accused of antisemitism, while the next moment he performs Klezmer. So Quod Erat Demonstrandum?

  7. Neil van der Linden says:

    And another thing: the cradle of pogroms and ghetto’s and the almost unspeakable worse and all the outcome of European antisemitism is here, in Poland, but not only Poland of course, it was also Eastwards as well and also Westwards, in the heartlands of post 1600 European civilization. Probably the event was scheduled for a long while, but maybe unintentionally Kennedy’s choice of location was a statement as well.

    • Michael Schaffer says:

      I think it’s much simpler than that: Kennedy, who has a Polish wife has been living part of the year in Poland for many years, and he has worked with the Kroke band for over a decade.

  8. I can’t even begin to imagine what one’s political views have to do with what music one enjoys. If I have a problem with Russia’s foreign policy, does that mean that I can no longer listen with great pleasure to Tchaikovsky’s “Pathetique ?” Of course it doesn’t ! Klezmer is haunting and beautiful….of course Nigel likes to play it ! Honestly !

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