Masthead graphic based on a painting by Gudrun Thriemer.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Ethan Bronner, "Musical show of unity upsets many in Israel," Common Ground News Service - Middle East. English Edition. 5 March 2009.

TEL AVIV – Achinoam Nini, a singer and peace activist, has long stirred controversy here. Known abroad by her stage name, Noa, she has recorded with Arab artists, refused to perform in the occupied West Bank, condemned Israeli settlements there and had concerts cancelled because of bomb threats from the extreme right. But lately it is the left that has been angry with Nini. Chosen by Israel to represent the country at the Eurovision Song Contest — this year being held in Moscow in May with an expected television audience of 100 million — Nini asked if she could bring along her current artistic collaborator, an Israeli Arab singer, Mira Awad.

The selection committee liked the idea of having both Arab and Jewish citizens in the contest for the first time. But coinciding as it did with Israel's Gaza war and the rise of Avigdor Lieberman, the ultranationalist politician who threatens Israeli Arabs with a loyalty oath, the committee's choice was labelled by many on the left and in the Arab community as an effort to prettify an ugly situation.

A petition went around demanding that the duo withdraw, saying they were giving the false impression of coexistence in Israel and trying to shield the nation from the criticism it deserved. It added, "Every brick in the wall of this phony image allows the Israeli Army to throw 10 more tons of explosives and more phosphorus bombs."

Neither Nini, 39, nor Awad, 33, has been deterred. But since they consider themselves peace advocates, they are a bit surprised. The antiwar movement, they say, seems to have turned into a Hamas apology force. That, together with the political turn rightward in Israel, means that while the two are being sent to represent this mixed and complex society, they also feel a bit orphaned by it.

Read the rest here =>

View the EuroVision performance here =>

Interview with Noa & the palestine singer Mira Awad recording the Beatles hit "We can work it out", a duet included on Noa's album Now (2002). This is part of a special from Dutch television show "2Vandaag" about Noa. Also includes statements made by Noa & Mira on the political arena in the Middle East. (English with Dutch subtitles) Or listen to the song without the interview.

More of Noa's music here =>
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