Terry Teachout (who gets props for giving a shout out, in his blog, to that awesome Bruce Springsteen fan, Walker Percy) reports in the WSJ that the (unofficial) Israeli ban on Wagner performances seems to remain standing for the foreseeable future, since David Stern -- new music director of the Israeli Opera -- supports it:
Opera Chic -- who nevertheless appreciates the irony that the greatest Wagner conductor of Wagner's time was a Jew (nevermind good ole Richard's silly attempts to baptize the infidel), the greatest Wagner conductor ever was a Hungarian Jew and the current two greatest Wagner conductors are a liberal Jew from South America and a very non-European, Indian-born Zoroastrian Parsi -- Opera Chic is on the record as supporting the Israeli ban on the basis of the very simple fact that, in one's home, one is free to listen to the music one wants, and since Israel is the house of the Jews, the popular Wagner ban makes sense to OC.
Opera Chic appreciates TT's support, too, but then he goes a bit far in saying unequivocally that "While Wagner's operas are not overtly anti-Semitic..." (we invite TT to think again about Alberich and Mime, for example, in the light of Wagner's own writings and theories) and TT mostly has a bone to pick with Meistersinger (that has always looked to Opera Chic as a cartoonish piece of self-satire on Wagner's part, more "Springtime for Hitler" broad comedy than anything else, certainly to be taken less seriously than the Ring -- we'd still pay Bayreuth prices to see a Meistersinger staged by Mel Brooks).
Where we respectfully disagree with the Wall Street Journal's theater critic -- who, in Pavlovian mode, cannot unfortunately avoid to take two little potshots at Picasso (?) and Europe in his otherwise very interesting piece -- is where he states that "Wagner, needless to say, wasn't a Nazi. He died five years before Hitler was born".
Which makes sense only because it's stated very narrowly and very carefully. No, Wagner wasn't a "Nazi" because the brand itself hadn't been created yet. But -- as someone who has taken time to read both Wagner's essays and Mein Kampf -- Opera Chic thinks there's a very solid argument to be made that Wagner did indeed set in place all of Mein Kampf's main arguments. The German nationalism, the essentially non-German nature of the Jews on a biological basis, the pernicious Jewish influence on Germany's affairs, the subhuman nature of the Jews. The necessity of the Jews removal from Germany -- the Jews a wound in Germany's body, just like Parsifal's wound, the Jews as malevolent thieving Alberichs.
It's all there, first in Wagner's writings (he considered himself a philosopher first, remember that), then acted out in his musical theater.
Did Wagner -- a genius -- die before Hitler -- an utterly mediocre man -- was born? Of course he did die before that.
But then -- and this is just an example so please calm down preemptively, Opera Chic has the deepest respect for all faiths -- Paul never knew the living Jesus of Nazareth either (later visions aside). Jesus of Nazareth didn't write the Gospels, never really mentioned the trinity, obviously never had anything to do with the Nicene creed that came to be centuries later. But unless you want to argue that Jesus wasn't a Christian only because the word "Christianity" (a Greek word, by the way -- no evidence the Aramaic-speaking Nazarene even knew the language whatsoever) itself came to be after his death, well, brands sometimes don't count as much.
It's the ideas behind the philosophies, not their branding (or their marketing). Thinkers are seldom adept at selling their inventions anyway.
So, yes, Wagner wasn't a "Nazi". He invented Nazism. It's different.