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France's Jarre to play Israel in aid of Dead Sea

Jean-Michel Jarre dans son studio à Bougival, à l'ouest de Paris, le 30 septembre 2015
THOMAS SAMSON (AFP/Archives)
The eight-hour performance will be streamed live through an Israeli smartphone app giving a 360 degree view

Electronic music pioneer Jean-Michel Jarre says he will perform in Israel next month in a concert to publicize the plight of the shrinking Dead Sea. 

The lowest and saltiest body of water in the world is receding by roughly a meter (three feet) each year and experts have warned it is on course to dry out by 2050.

The 68-year-old French composer told AFP in a telephone interview Wednesday that he would play at the ancient clifftop fortress of Massada on April 6 to "make the world aware" of the threat."

The Dead Sea's current crisis started in the 1960s when Israel, Jordan and Syria began to divert water from the Jordan River, its main source.

Jarre is a goodwill ambassador for the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO,) which in 2002 designated Massada as a world heritage site.

He said he had not been pressured by groups calling for a boycott of Israel "because it is a universal project under the aegis of UNESCO."

He says he wants to "sound the alert on the urgency of saving the Dead Sea" which is bordered by Israel, Jordan and the occupied West Bank and overlooked by the Golan Heights.

Israel seized 1,200 square kilometers (460 square miles) of the Golan from Syria in the Six-Day War of 1967 and later annexed it in a move never recognized by the international community.

The performance at Massada, which looms over the Dead Sea on the Israeli side, was conceived more than 18 months ago and is intended "to be festive but also to contribute to an important cause," Jarre said.

Massada was built in the first century BC by biblical King Herod on a rocky outcrop 430 meters (1290 feet) above the Dead Sea and it marks a seminal event in Jewish history.

In 73 AD, according to a historian of the period, Flavius Joseph, 960 Jewish Zealots who had rebelled against Roman rule of then Palestine, were besieged there by Roman troops.

Instead of allowing themselves falling to fall captive they committed collective suicide.

Jarre said that his Massada  concert would be state-of-the art.

"We shall be using modern French and Israeli technology to make this show something unique," he said.

The eight-hour long nighttime performance will be streamed live through an Israeli smartphone application giving a 360 degree view.

Seats at the event will sell for 495 to 2955 shekels ($134 to $801, 130 to 777 euros).

"What is important to me is that the world understand that the problems of the Dead Sea concern not only  residents of the region but humanity," Jarre said. 

Jarre has put on several of the biggest concerts ever, including a 1997 show for Moscow's 850th anniversary that drew 3.5 million people and included a message from cosmonauts in space.

He remains prolific, releasing three albums in the past 14 months

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