On Sunday, August 30, the Iranian news agency Fars News confirmed the official Iranian position on the prospect of Daniel Barenboim conducting a concert in Tehran.
“The conductor of Germany’s symphonic orchestra is affiliated to Israel considering his nationality and identity,” spokesman of the Iranian Ministry of Culture, Hossein Noushabadi, told reporters in Tehran on Sunday.
Barenboim, an Israeli citizen and one of the world’s most renowned conductors, had planned to conduct a concert with his Berlin-based orchestra in Tehran.
Barenboim’s initiative drew criticism in Israel, most notably from Israeli Minister of Culture Miri Regev, who wrote, “Daniel Barenboim’s concert in Iran hurts Israel’s efforts to prevent the nuclear agreement and boosts the delegitimization efforts against Israel.”
“Barenboim has taken an anti-Israel stance and he makes sure to slander Israel while using culture as leverage in order to state his political opinions against the State of Israel,” wrote Regev in an appeal directed at Angela Merkel.
Regev’s appeal did not sway the Germans, as German Foreign Minister, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, granted Barenboim’s initiative his official patronage and full support.
Barenboim, who is an Argentinian-born Israeli, has gained a reputation both in Israel and abroad as a harsh critic of Israel and Zionism, and as a supporter of the BDS movement. Additionally, in 2008 Barenboim asked for and received an honorary Palestinian citizenship.
However, neither Barenboim’s political and ideological track record nor the support of German Foreign Minister influenced the Iranian government which refused to cooperate with Barenboim’s initiative solely on the basis of his nationality.
“Germany’s symphonic orchestra can change its conductor and then request a performance in Tehran again, and their demand will be studied only then,” Noushabadi concluded his statement.