Copyright 2003 Deutsche Presse-Agentur  
Deutsche Presse-Agentur

August 25, 2003, Monday  
14:31 Central European Time

SECTION: Culture, Entertainment

LENGTH: 306 words

HEADLINE: Moroccan commentators praise Arab-Israeli concert


Moroccan commentators Monday lauded a concert given by the Israeli-Arab orchestra West Eastern Divan in the capital Rabat, praising musicians for giving an example to politicians.

Sunday's concert was the first in an Arab country by the West Eastern Divan, a youth orchestra launched by Israeli-Argentine conductor Daniel Barenboim and Palestinian intellectual Edward Said in 1999.

A large number of prominent personalities attended the concert at the Mohammed V Theatre, including Lalla Salma, wife of King Mohammed VI, the king's two sisters, members of the Moroccan government and former Spanish prime minister Felipe Gonzalez.

The audience also included Manuel Chavez, premier of the southern Spanish region of Andalusia, where the orchestra has its headquarters.

Interpretations of Schubert, Mozart and Beethoven were met with a thunderous applause.

The press stressed that the concert had helped to restore
Morocco's reputation as a tolerant country and to heal the psychological wounds left by the suicide bombings which killed 45 people in Casablanca on May 16.

Since some of the bombers targeted Jewish establishments, it was important for Jews and Arabs to stage "a meeting of men of peace in the land of tolerance", the Socialist newspaper Liberation wrote.

The independent daily Assabah said that "culture came to rescue politics".

"Music cannot solve political problems, but it can give an important contribution to the understanding between cultures," Barenboim said Monday before leaving Rabat.

The orchestra had previously performed in Spain and London, and was scheduled to continue its tour in France and Germany.

The West Eastern Divan comprises some 80 young musicians from Israel, the Palestinian territories and Arab countries including Egypt, Lebanon and Syria.