Jewish Conductor Stung by Anti-Semitism in German Press

The Berlin Philharmonic's conductor to-be will no longer be giving interviews after two major German media outlets published articles describing him using anti-Semitic stereotypes. 

Kirill Petrenko, 43, who is of Russian Jewish origin, was last week appointed to take over as conductor for the Berlin Philharmonic starting in 2018. He currently serves as the director for the Bavarian State Opera in Munich.

According to the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Petrenko refuses to speak to media, after both Northern German Radio (NDR) and Welt Online used anti-Semitic tropes in their commentaries on his appointment. 

In her article, NDR's Sabine Lange compared Petrenko to another contender for the position, German-born Christian Thieleman, describing Petrenko as "the tiny gnome, the Jewish caricature."

Meanwhile, Welt Online's commentator said it was "a relief to many" that Petrenko has good interpersonal relations, “as at least one of the female opera singers at this year’s Bayreuth [Wagner] Festival can attest.”

Petrenko was apparently not the only one offended as readers began to slam the use of anti-Semitic stereotypes of overly competitive Jews, forcing the articles to be removed or edited, German Economic News reported. 

Both reports were “bursting with anti-Semitic hatred,” one reader wrote NDR, adding, “this is now apparently OK in Germany again.”

NDR's attempt at an apology also backfired, with one reader calling the apology "an insult to our intelligence. “It’s just unbelievable that you could not have been aware [of the anti-Semitic stereotypes].”

The radio station later retracted the statement and acknowledged the article should have never been published. 


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