Chrenkoff has a postscript to the story of the Palestinian who crossed the border into Israel carrying a violin. Israeli soldiers (reasonably enough) required the Palestinian, Wissam Tayyem, to open his violin case. But then, according to Tayyem, they required him to “play a sad song” before he could pass into Israel (the soldiers deny this, and say that Tayyem started playing on his own volition). The story is said to have triggered major criticism of the army and shock among Israelis who were reminded of stories of Jewish musicians forced to play for Nazis. Chrenkoff noted, however, that this comparison to the Holocaust is absurd and repugnant and, my wife having a family member who played the violin at Auschwitz, I agree.
In any case, the postcript is that Ofer Mendelovitch, an administrator at the Keshet Eilon Music Center in northern Israel, has invited Tayyem to participate in the institute’s master violin class. Mendelovitch has obtained permission from the army for Tayyem to enter Israel and remain at Eilon, a collective kibbutz, for the three-day seminar.
As Chrenkoff concludes:
Western societies are not perfect, their citizens are not all angels, and there are always people capable of committing crimes and human rights violations. But by contrast to other, non-free or less-free societies around the world, our Western societies possess powerful self-correcting mechanisms, such as the democratic system of government with a vigorous political opposition, free debate and free media, independent judiciary, and constitutional checks and balances, which mean that such aberrations from the generally high standard we all aspire to live up to are quickly identified, isolated and punished and the wrongs redressed and compensated by the authorities, the citizens or both. This doesn’t happen in every single case, and not necessarily as speedily and thoroughly as some would want, but it holds well enough as a general rule.