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German Support For Barenboim Concert In Iran Draws Israeli Ire

Star conductor Daniel Barenboim is hoping to take one of Germany's top orchestras to Iran to perform a concert there, the Berlin State Opera said August 27, drawing angry protests from Israel.

Barenboim, 72, who is general music director of the German capital's flagship opera house, "is in talks with Iran about a possible concert in Tehran," the house said.

It said the concert has the full backing of German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, who "supports Daniel Barenboim's dedication to making music accessible to all people, irrespective of national, religious or ethnic boundaries."

In an angry response, Israeli culture minister Miri Regev said on Facebook she will send a letter of protest to German Chancellor Angela Merkel calling on her to block the concert.

"In my letter I shall stress that Daniel Barenboim's appearance in Iran harms Israel's efforts to prevent the nuclear agreement and gives encouragement to de-legitimization of Israel," she said.

"Iran is a state which supports terror, is behind Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad, and Hamas, and its leaders have blood on their hands."

Regev accused Barenboim, an Israeli-Argentinian, of "using culture as a platform for his anti-Israel political views."

Barenboim has been an outspoken critic of Israel's Palestinian policies, and has taken honorary Palestinian citizenship as well as conducted a concert in Ramallah in 2005.

He is also controversial in Israel for his efforts to have the music of Richard Wagner, the German composer adored by Adolf Hitler, performed in the Jewish state.

Foreign Minister Steinmeier is due to travel to Iran in October.

His cabinet colleague Sigmar Gabriel, the economy minister, visited Tehran in July with a small delegation of business representatives days after Iran's nuclear deal with world powers was announced, drawing criticism from Israeli leaders.

Berlin's support for the nuclear deal has tested the close ties Germany has cultivated with Israel since World War Two, when the Nazis killed six million Jews.

With reporting by Reuters and AFP
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