A conference on the music of Richard Wagner in the Jerusalem Theater was interrupted Tuesday by a man who bursted onto the stage, singing Hatikva, Israel's national anthem. Once on stage, the man proceeded to shout invective at the audience, in protest of the ostensible honor being done to the notoriously anti-Semitic composer.
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The conference was organized by French conductor Frederic Chaslin, who hoped to spark a debate on different aspects of Wagner's music without actually performing any of it. As Chaslin was delivering his opening speech, a young man climbed on stage, yelling at the audience "Dachau, Auschwitz, Kapos" and threatening to fight anyone who might try to remove him.
Yair Stern, CEO of the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra, tried to calm the intruder, but was met with insults. "You defile the memory of your father, who was murdered so I could speak here today," the intruder told Stern, according to witnesses.
The audience booed the heckler to get off stage and echoed support for the event and freedom of expression, until it was dispersed by the conference organizers.
The intruder, who identified himself as Ram Carmi, the owner of a Jerusalem music shop, was finally removed by two policemen who threatened arrest if he were seen again in the vicinity. The conference resumed without further disruptions.
Wagner was an avowed anti-Semite, and even though he died half a century before Adolf Hitler rose to power, the Nazi dictator was a fervent admirer and drew on the composer's writings in his own theories on Germanic racial purity.
His music has long been taboo in Israel.
The conference marks 200 years since Wagner's birth.