A few hours ago, someone from Tel Aviv University left a very eloquent comment on an earlier post.
The comment deserves its own showcase.
Nikolaj Znaider has no love for Israel other than the monetary benefit conferred on him by playing here (the Israel Philharmonic and the fees it pays him). Znaider’s main interest is money. Nothing else motivates him.
Znaider is Jewish only when there is a financial incentive for him to be Jewish. If there is money to be made by being Jewish, Znaider is Jewish all the way. If there is no monetary advantage to being Jewish, Znaider is not Jewish at all. Why do you think he changed his name from Szeps-Znaider to Znaider?
The Israel Philharmonic has supported Znaider loyally for fifteen years, offering him far more engagements than his talent warrants. This loyalty is a one-way street for Znaider. The Israel Philharmonic interests him only insofar as he can make money off the orchestra and advance his career. Znaider otherwise could care less if the Israel Philharmonic were wiped off the face of the earth tomorrow.
Znaider tried living in Israel. It didn’t work out for him. People didn’t like him. He didn’t make friends. The only people willing to hang around him were the types that were hoping to make money off him. Znaider is not the sort of person who makes friends—or keeps them. I cannot begin to tell you about the well-known Israel musicians who will have nothing to do with Znaider, starting with several of our most renowned pianists and string players. Ah, the stories I could tell (and the pictures I could send) . . .
Znaider would play in any totalitarian state if it were profitable for him (Dubai, anyone?). For a vain, immoral person like Znaider, it would be no big deal to play in a country with an anti-Semitic government that has publicly pledged to support Israel’s destruction—as long as Znaider was being paid. Znaider would have played in the death camps while watching his relatives being marched into the gas chambers if the fees had been assured.
And, for symbolic purposes, that is precisely what Znaider did when playing a benefit concert in Venezuela for a charity important to Hugo Chavez—and doing so while Iran, Venezuela’s ally, carried out a terrorist attack against innocent Israeli women and children vacationing in Bulgaria. No doubt the Bulgaria incident barely registered with the vain and self-obsessed Znaider.
In the Cold War era, Znaider would have been called “A Useful Idiot”, the term invented by the Russians for dupes in the West. And Znaider is a dupe. He is “A Useful Idiot”: he is vain, selfish, without education, without intelligence, without judgment, without character, without scruples, interested purely and solely in his own pleasure and indulgence—and capable of causing immeasurable harm by his thoughtless actions.
So Zubin Mehta and the Israel Philharmonic will continue to humor Znaider, engaging him to play the same handful of concertos over and over, played more poorly each return visit. Znaider will collect the money, the Israel Philharmonic will have done the honorable thing by engaging a Jewish artist, and the audience will hear Znaider scratch his way for the umpteenth time in Tel Aviv through yet another concerto he has already played 7000 times but will never master (this year, the Brahms).
As for me . . .
I won’t be there.