Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Kissin takes Israeli citizenship

By Tom Gross for Mideast Dispatches

KissinWhile 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.

Unlike 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.

Evgeny 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:

“I 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 passport.”

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