Bruno Kreisky Foundation

for Human Rights

Bruno Kreisky Prize to Daniel Barenboim

A bridge builder for the Middle East
Barely has President Obama spoken out in Washington in favor of a Palestinian state and the establishment of the 1967 border lines, which Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu promptly rejected, when one of the most renowned artists in the international concert scene is honored for his efforts to bring about peace in the Middle East conflict: Daniel Barenboim.

Midday Journal, 05/20/2011

(Susanna Dal Monte)
Barenboim is more committed to peace in the Middle East conflict than almost any other artist, has given concerts in the Palestinian territories, founded the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra of young Israeli and Arab musicians and campaigned for the highly controversial performance of Richard Wagner's works in Israel .

Not only does he make a guest appearance at the Musikverein in Vienna on Friday evening, he is also honored with the Bruno Kreisky Prize for services to human rights.

criticism of Israel's policies

At the beginning of the conversation, Barenboim was appalled that the Israeli prime minister immediately rejected Obama's speech without first analyzing it thoroughly. Netanyahu is harming not only Palestinians but also Israelis. In Israel there is a general lack of analytical skills "and as a Jew I can say that".

When it comes to the Middle East, Daniel Barenboim gets emotional: he doesn't want to wait for peace, he wants to go towards it and has been doing so for years.
Born in Buenos Aires of Russian, Argentinian, Spanish and Israeli descent, he is probably the only Israeli who has also held Palestinian citizenship since 2007.

What he is calling for is more international pressure against the Gaza blockade, because only an opening of the Gaza Strip will clear the way for an understanding, says Barenboim. But once again the signs are bad. In this context, Barenboim criticizes above all the most recent settlement construction: "Netanyahu is laughing his head off at Obama".

Alternative Thinking Laboratory

With the West Eastern Divan youth orchestra, which he founded together with the Palestinian-born literary scholar Edward Said and which is made up of Arab and Israeli musicians, Barenboim tries to teach tolerance on a small scale: "Bridges can only be built by people, not by politicians". .

He builds bridges and receives awards for it all over the world. In Vienna he received the Bruno Kreisky Human Rights Prize for his commitment to reconciliation in the Middle East conflict is awarded.

The West Eastern Divan Orchestra conducted by Daniel Barenboim can be heard today at the Wiener Musikverein.

Other award winners

The other award winners are the psychosocial center Esra, the association Aspis and the association Hemayat.

The Esra psychosocial center is being honored for its social responsibility towards the survivors of National Socialist persecution.

Aspis, an independent institution at the University of Klagenfurt, has also taken up the cause of psychotherapeutic and psychosocial help for traumatized people, especially for victims of torture and survivors of Nazi terror.

The Hemayat association, founded in Vienna in 1995, has established itself as a center for medical, psychological and psychotherapeutic care for survivors of torture and war. "Hemayat" comes from the Arabic language area and means "care" and "protection".

Text version: Joseph Schimmer