Omar Faruk Tekbilek. 'We're all the children of God'
Photo: Shimi Nechtailer

Turkish flautist defies Israel boycott

Despite calls to cancel arrival, Omar Faruk Tekbilek plans to perform at Tamar Festival as planned next week. 'I'm not a political person,' he says, 'and besides, our people have not become enemies'

CONNECTICUT – Turkish flautist Omar Faruk Tekbilek will perform next Sunday at Tamar Festival, which will be held for the 12th time at the Dead Sea.


Over the past 15 years, Tekbilek has performed in thousands of festivals in front of hundreds of thousands of people across the world, sold millions of albums and won important awards.


This will be his 15th or 16th visit to Israel since 1998. He has been living in the United States for years, but is still identified with Turkey and knows that he is arriving in Israel at a sensitive time.


"I'm definitely aware of what has been happening between the countries recently, and I feel a lot of pain. I'm not a political person and I'm not coming to Israel as part of some political agenda, but as a musician.


"I will perform at the Tamar Festival, as well as in Nazareth with Arab musicians. I don't want to discriminate against anyone."


Natacha Atlas, one of the most successful world music artists, called off a planned concert in Israel last week. The cancellation announcement reached Tekbilek's inbox.


"A Palestinian organization made sure to send me the letter, in which she explains why she decided not to perform in Israel. They wanted me to cancel too. But musicians transcend politics. We don't have to carry ideological flags, but allow people to forget their troubles and move the audience to a majestic spiritual dimension.


"My job is to connect them to their souls so that they can handle daily life better. The political conflict is a story of 2,000-3,000 years. It's not something I or 1,000 politicians can solve. I pray that the Palestinian get their own state and that things turn out well for everyone."


In spite of the growing political unrest in the Middle East, Tekbilek seems optimistic. "People tell me the world is getting worse. And I say not at all. We've always had unnecessary and foolish killings here.


"You look at the Bible, and what do you see? That Adam's son killed his brother. And I say, Adam sees his son kill his brother, and what does he do? Does he kill him? No. And this is the exact point we must look at. Don't lose your love for another even if he made a mistake. Don't ignite the flames even more.


"It's all part of a work plan created by God. God creates the conditions for us. Even if the situation looks bad, something good will come out of it."


Do you see a certain process the Turkish society is going through, which has led to what is happening between Turkey and Israel?


"No. It's all political. Despite such things and others that happen on each side, there is a lot of understanding between the sides. Our people have not become enemies.


"As far as I am concerned, wherever I look I see the sons of God. I don't care if it's a Jew, Christian or Muslim. That's why, at the end of each concert, I don't turn my back on the audience. I walk slowly, backwards, backstage. I can't turn my back on anyone."


You celebrated your 60th birthday this year. Have you discovered anything new?


"Yes, I discovered that I appreciate every single minute much more that I used to. I finally stop to breathe, take a proper breath. Life is much tastier now."



פרסום ראשון: 10.11.11, 10:40
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