By Tom Gross for Mideast Dispatches
some other leading artists are calling for a boycott of Israel, I can
now reveal that Evgeny Kissin, generally regarded as one of the world’s
greatest living pianists, will on Saturday take Israeli citizenship.
some Israeli musicians, Evgeny Kissin, who was born in Russia and has
in recent years resided in London and Paris, is fiercely proud of being
Jewish and of the Jewish state.
On Saturday evening at the
Mishkenot Sha’ananim arts center in Jerusalem, he will receive his
Israeli passport from another prominent Soviet-born Jew, Natan Sharansky
(who, of course, spent years in solitary confinement in the gulag for
saying he wanted to live in freedom). Evgeny will give a recital next
Monday at Binyanei Ha’Uma, Jerusalem’s largest indoor venue.
is long-standing subscriber to this email list, as well as being a
personal friend of mine. He has asked for his original statement, made
when he started the process of applying for Israeli citizenship almost
two years ago (in Jan. 2012), to now be made public, so journalists and
others subscribing to this list can read it.
In it, he says:
am a Jew, Israel is a Jewish state – and since long ago I have felt
that Israel, although I do not live there, is the only state in the
world with which I can fully identify myself, whose case, problems,
tragedies and very destiny I perceive to be mine.
“If I, as a
human being and artist represent anything in the world, it is my Jewish
people, and therefore Israel is the only state on our planet which I
want to represent with my art and all my public activities, no matter
where I live.
“When Israel’s enemies try to disrupt concerts of
the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra or the Jerusalem Quartet, I want them
to come and make troubles at my concerts, too: because Israel’s case is
my case, Israel’s enemies are my enemies, and I do not want to be spared
of the troubles which Israeli musicians encounter when they represent
the Jewish State beyond its borders.
“I have always deeply
despised chauvinism and have never regarded my people to be superior to
other peoples; I feel truly blessed that my profession is probably the
most international one in the world, that I play music created by great
composers of different countries, that I travel all over the world and
share my beloved music with people of different countries and
nationalities – but I want all the people who appreciate my art to know
that I am a Jew, that I belong to the People of Israel. That’s why now I
feel a natural desire to travel around the world with an Israeli