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Zubin Mehta ‘unhappy’ About Unrest As Ipo Departs on Concert Tour

March 7, 1988
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The Israel Philharmonic Orchestra left Friday for a concert tour in Hong Kong and Japan, under the shadow of continuing unrest in the West Bank and Gaza.

“I hope that if any political questions are raised at any press conference I give while abroad, the Israeli ambassador is present to answer them,” Zubin Mehta, the IPO’s Indian-born conductor, told reporters.

“While I’m abroad I don’t criticize the country, but before I leave the country I can say I’m very unhappy about the situation,” he said.

“When I started with the IPO 21 years ago, the Israel Defense Force was regarded as a great, efficient army, fighting off a collection of hostile Arab countries which surround it. But now, all we see on television is Israeli soldiers beating Arab youths,” he added.

Mehta, who also conducts the New York Philharmonic Orchestra, recalled that during the Vietnam war, many cars in the United States had bumper stickers reading “What would happen if we gave a war and nobody came?

“That’s what we need here,” he said. “I can understand restoring order in the main towns. But why do we have to go in demonstratively to the small Arab hillside villages, only calling stones and rocks down on us, in return for which the IDF opens fire?”

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