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This book examines the Israeli attitude towards Wagner in light of remembrance of the Holocaust and the shape of the new Israeli national identity. To many in Israel, Richard Wagner is a symbol of the concentration camps, or at least of a fierce sociopolitical controversy. Although the cancellation of a performance of the prelude to Wagner's Mestersinger von Nuremberg in 1938 was simply an impetuous response to the events of Kristallnacht in Nazi Germany, over the years this incident became part of a wider pattern as the Wagner boycott was extended to other composers suspected of collaborating with the Nazis. Today all the musicians living in the Third Reich have been rehabilitated except for Wagner, who is perceived as an intellectual whose views helped Hitler form his own racist world concept. Although the Israeli boycott is rooted in this connection between Wagner and Hitler, an additional and central aspect of it is the determination of politicians and broad sectors of the Israeli public to preserve the boycott as a fundamental part of Holocaust commemoration. An elucidation of the delicate intersection of culture and national identity, politics and society that underlies this issue reveals a pattern of collective behavior in which Wagner is a means of expressing other sociopolitical ideas.
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