Evgeny Kissin: In his own words

November 1, 2010
Pianist Evgeny Kissin has decided to use his influence to speak out about injustices against Israel

Pianist Evgeny Kissin has decided to use his influence to speak out about injustices against Israel

On duty

● I think that this applies not only to Jewish artists, but to all Jews in the entire free world: we must keep screaming in defence of our cause all the time! The number of our enemies is much greater - so for the sake of Israel, we must put aside our differences, unite and outweigh our enemies in energy and determination.

On speaking up

● Now, when the western media keep slandering and smearing the Jewish state and her politics; when antisemitic incidents in Europe have been increasing dramatically; when Israeli politicians can freely visit Morocco and Abu Dhabi, but cannot come to Britain for fear of being arrested for alleged "war crimes"; when, of all the countries in the world - not China, not Iran, not Saudi Arabia - Israel, the only democracy in the Middle East, is the only target of boycotts by British universities; when the organisers of the gay parade in Madrid tell Israeli gays not to come to take part in it… Can it be that some western Jews believe that if they keep silent and avoid expressing their support for Israel, that they will be better off?

On fairness

● I always try to be objective, and for that reason I ask myself sometimes: what if the tables were reversed? What if the Jews had the whole of North Africa, the whole Arabian Peninsula, Palestine, Syria and Iraq - and the Arabs had nothing and wanted Palestine? And the only answer that comes naturally to my mind and seems fair to me is: in such a situation, it would have been the sacred duty of the whole world to give Palestine to the Arabs and to suppress any Jewish resistance ruthlessly.

On the diaspora

● Israel's enemies realised that they could not win by military means and instead launched a cunning propaganda war against the Jewish state. Unfortunately, Ben Gurion's idiotic principle, "It doesn't matter what Gentiles say, what matters is what Jews do", proved too deeply ingrained in the Israeli mentality (which Israelis finally began to realise themselves a few years ago), and that has been bringing disastrous results for Israel in this war. In these hard times, I am firmly against the belief that all Jews should live in Israel, because contrary to Ben Gurion's statement, it does matter what Gentiles say. Tiny Israel needs outside support - and we must provide this support in free countries by forming a powerful driving force to do exactly what our enemies have been doing for dozens of years: to influence governments and public opinion. United we stand!

On Sikh pride

● A few years ago the Sikh community of Britain were angry about the portrayal of their brethren in a theatre play: they protested en masse - and the production was taken off the stage. I no longer live in England, but when last year I read reviews of Seven Jewish Children, I thought in despair: there are hundreds and thousands of Jews living in London - why aren't they protesting? Is our national pride less important for us than the Sikh national pride is for the Sikhs?

On our stake in Israel

● Stalin's right-hand man was Molotov; Molotov's wife Polina Zhemchuzhina was Jewish. She was a convinced Communist - but when the State of Israel was established and the Moscow synagogue began collecting money and jewellery for Israel, Zhemchuzhina went there and gave away all her jewellery. When a close friend of hers, a Gentile woman, said to her: "Are you mad? You are the wife of a prominent statesman!" Zhemchuzhina replied: "First of all, I am a daughter of my people!" When Golda Meir came to Moscow as the ambassador of the newly-created state of Israel, at an official reception Zhemchuzhina said to her: "If everything is good in Israel, it will be good for all the Jews of the world." Even the hard-line Communist and Stalin's right-hand man's wife realised that. Can it really be that we, Jews of the free world, have forgotten that?

Last updated: 12:23pm, November 1 2010