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Last Updated: Saturday, 3 September 2005, 13:19 GMT 14:19 UK
Conductor Barenboim in radio row
Daniel Barenboim
Barenboim has clashed with the Israeli government before
Israel's education minister has branded conductor Daniel Barenboim "a real anti-Semite" after he refused to be interviewed by an army radio reporter.

The Jewish musician was promoting a book he had written with Palestinian intellectual Edward Said.

But he declined to be interviewed by reporter Dafna Arad because she was wearing a military uniform.

Education Minister Limor Livnat criticised Barenboim, who said the conductor "lacked sensitivity".

Ms Livnat, of the Likud party, said Barenboim was "a real Jew-hater, a real anti-Semite".

Barenboim, who was born in Argentina, has frequently fallen out with the Israeli government.

Military service

Last year, he angered officials when he criticised Israel's occupation of the West Bank and Gaza in a speech to the country's parliament.

And in 2001, he caused controversy by performing the works of Richard Wagner, whose music had been appropriated by the Nazis after his death.

Ms Arad said: "I wanted to interview Barenboim very much and to ask him about the concert he conducted in Ramallah last week. But he wouldn't agree to talk to me."

"I insisted. Then he said he refused to be interviewed by a soldier in a uniform and he will agree to talk to me only if I come to him in civilian clothes," she told Army Radio, whose reporters still wear uniform if they are serving their mandatory military service.

Ms Arad said that when she protested that she had no choice but to wear the uniform, Barenboim pulled on her epaulets and yelled at her.

'No logic'

Barenboim defended his actions in a later telephone interview with Army Radio.

"Anti-Semitic? What is anti-Semitic about it? When I say that a uniform should be worn to the right places and not to the wrong ones, there is nothing anti-Semitic about it, there is no logic to this claim," he said.

"I just thought that in this place, discussing a book written together with a Palestinian, it shows lack of sensitivity."

Yahad party politician Yossi Sarid, a friend of Barenboim's, said the conductor's behaviour was "unfortunate", but added he was confused about the character and history of Army Radio.

"He made a mistake," Mr Sarid added.

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