(21 Jun 2016) VIOLINIST ITZHAK PERLMAN BLASTS DONALD TRUMP OVER DISABLED JOURNALIST
Violinist Itzhak Perlman, a longtime advocate for the disabled, is still upset over Donald Trump’s derisive behavior toward a disabled reporter last fall and says he will be supporting Hillary Clinton in November’s election.
The mild-mannered musician, who contracted polio as a child and uses an electric scooter to move around, said he usually tries to steer clear of politics, but is finding it difficult to stay quiet during the current campaign.
Last November, Trump flailed his arms in an apparent attempt to mimic a New York Times reporter who suffers from a congenital condition that restricts joint movement. At the time, Trump was taking issue with one of the reporter’s stories.
“That was a mindless kind of decision,” Perlman said in Jerusalem, Tuesday (21 June 2016). “It was terrible. You don’t do that … It’s almost not worth commenting on because it’s so outrageous.”
Asked whether he would be endorsing a candidate, he said: “I’m just hoping that Hillary will do it,” adding that it would be “impossible” if Trump is elected.
It is not the first time Perlman has been drawn into a politically sensitive issue. Last month, he canceled a performance with the North Carolina Symphony to protest the state’s new law limiting anti-discrimination policies for LGBT people.
Perlman said he initially intended to deliver a statement against the law at the concert. But when the state funded orchestra told him that would be impossible, he decided to cancel the performance altogether. He has said he will perform when the law is repealed.
“I hope that they do something there that I can come back and play,” he said.
The Israeli-American Perlman, one of the world’s most recognized classical musicians, is in the country of his birth to collect the $1 million Genesis Prize, known unofficially as the “Jewish Nobel Prize.”
He was selected for the honor for his “exceptional contributions” as a musician, teacher, advocate for the disabled and dedication to Jewish values and Israel.
Perlman, 70, has won 16 Grammys, including a lifetime achievement award in 2008, and played the violin solo in John Williams’ Oscar-winning soundtrack for the 1993 film “Schindler’s List.”
He has performed with or conducted the world’s top symphony orchestras, and has been a regular guest at White House events. Last year, he received the U.S. Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor.
Perlman is also one of the few classical musicians to enjoy broad crossover appeal. He has appeared on late night comedy programs, “Sesame Street” and American public television programs. With his wife Toby, he helps run the Perlman Music Program for talented young musicians.
Perlman said he has not yet decided exactly how he will spend the prize money, but that it will go to support two causes close to his heart: music and empowering people with disabilities.
He said he has his eyes set on promoting music education in Israel. “We have got to make kids excited about classical music,” he said. “I just hope I can do something about that.”
He added he would also promote the idea that “every person with a disability is an individual,” with their own sets of needs. He said society must do more to enable people with disabilities to utilize their strengths and realize their potential.
Perlman offered himself as an example: he wants to be recognized as a great violinist – not as a musician with a disability.
“I don’t play the violin with my legs. I play it with my hands,” he said.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is scheduled to present the award to Perlman at a ceremony in Jerusalem on Thursday night that will be hosted by actress Helen Mirren.
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