BERLIN (JTA) — Conductor Daniel Barenboim was awarded a German peace prize for his efforts to bring Israelis and Palestinians together.
The Westphalia Peace Prize, worth about $70,000, was presented by German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle in ceremonies Saturday in Muenster City Hall.
Barenboim, 67, a pianist and general music director at Berlin’s State Opera, was honored particularly for his creation, with the late Palestinian scholar Edward Said, of the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra, which brings together Jewish, Christian and Muslim musicians. The award will be shared with the orchestra, according to news reports.
Several musicians from the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra performed at the ceremony.
In delivering the prize, Westerwelle praised the project as "an orchestra without borders" that brings younger generations together. He said that peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians must continue, with European support, but that Israel’s security is top priority and "not up for debate."
Barenboim called the award "a great and deep honor" and added that a two-state solution to the conflict was urgently needed.
"It is not five before midnight, but 30 seconds before midnight," said Barenboim, who has passports for Israel, Argentina, Spain and a pass for the Palestinian territories, which he was given after a concert in Ramallah in January 2008.
The prize is given every two years by the Economic Association of Westphalia and Lippe to individuals or institutions considered role models in building peace. Past recipients include former United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan and conductor Kurt Masur.