Noa, Jerusalem Day and a life of hatred inside a bunker
Last week, we called upon the singer Ahinoam “Noa” Nini to cancel her performance in the "Jerusalem Day" ceremonies.
Nini did not react to our request, but we did get a reply from her manager.
Mr. Adam Keller
My name is Ofer Pesenzon and I am Noa's director. I consider your mail as in no way different from the mails we got from supporters of the extreme right who seek to boycott Noa.
In my opinion, had we listened to you and your likes on the extreme left or extreme right, we would have had to live our entire lives in a bunker and experience noting but hatred.
Thank you for your advice, sir. You may spare us such like in the future.
In response, Gush Shalom spokesperson Adam Keller sent the following letter:
To Mr. Ofer Pesenzon
Thank you for being so kind as to reply to our request that Noa cancel her performance on “Jerusalem Day,” which she didn’t.
I understand that, as Noa’s manager you feel obliged to defend her decision to perform. Indeed, it is quite possible that as her manager you have had a significant part in taking this decision in the first place. Still, as a public figure, who is not content with artistic activity as such but often takes outspoken positions on controversial political and social issues – which is to her credit - Noa is herself responsible for her decisions.
You avoid discussing our arguments and consider our mail as in no way different from the mails you got from supporters of the extreme right who seek to boycott Noa," a rather different matter.
A year ago, Noa was at the focus of public controversy following her decision to perform at an Alternative Memorial Day event, before an audience of bereaved Israeli and Palestinian families who share each other’s pain and mourning. It was a courageous, highly praiseworthy decision (and the performance itself was superb). No less important was the stand which Noa took at the time in face of the attacks by the extreme right. You are likely quite familiar with the statement she issued at the time – still. I would like to refresh your memory:
"I heard there are all kinds of going-ons on Facebook concerning me, people who make calls to boycott me because I have 'sung to terrorists on Memorial Day’. I am really flabbergasted at this ugly and stupid distortion. I have sung at an alternative ceremony where Jews and Arabs remembered together and cried together for their loved ones, lost in the ongoing war between us. The ceremony was moving, all underscored by the themes of unity, understanding, empathy and especially peace. All bereaved families and all participants were choosing for life, not for death. If every Arab is a terrorist, then yes, I sung to terrorists. But in the same way, you can say that every Israeli is a killer, is it not so? So, I was in good company. I suggest that we all calm down and that all of us think about how we can sanctify life rather than death, how to break the cycle of callousness and hatred, how we can at last implement 'Love your neighbor as yourself' in every sense and implication of this wise saying. "
These words were much deserving to be heard in the Israeli public arena. At that time we felt honored to stand by Noa’s side and defend her to the best of our humble ability. Precisely because of this we were shocked and deeply disappointed to hear a year later about her decision to perform on "Jerusalem Day."
Let me mention briefly what "Jerusalem Day" is – a commemoration day set on the date, according to the Hebrew calendar, when the IDF broke into and captured East Jerusalem – which was followed shortly afterwards by the annexation of this territory to Israel and its inclusion in the municipal area of Jerusalem. These events are formally called "The Liberation of Jerusalem" and "The Unification of Jerusalem" - terms which have nothing to do with reality. For the residents of East Jerusalem did not in any way feel that the Israeli soldiers who entered their city were “liberators". The "United Jerusalem" which was imposed by main force on the Palestinian residents is not a united city, just as rape is not an act of love.
No wonder that the only Israeli citizens who are really enthusiastic about celebrating this day are the religious nationalist settlers. The main event of "Jerusalem Day" is the "Flag Dance", an aggressive and provocative event involving tens of thousands of inflamed, flag-waving young people marching through the alleys of the Muslim Quarter in the Old City, chanting racist slogans racist, and some of whom move to actual acts of violence and harassment.
The concert at the Jerusalem Municipality Plaza, where Noa agreed to appear, is an appendix to this aggressive Flag Dance. It is a futile attempt to give Jerusalem Day a cover of decency and respectability". We very much regret that Noa agreed to participate in this event and serve as a fig leaf which cannot hide the true nature of "Jerusalem Day."
The extreme right supporters – those who. Indeed, would like to see us all living a hate-filled life in a bunker – did not want Noa, as they apparently took her stance of last years serious. If Noa tried to counterbalance here earlier peace-minded performance and statements then she made a grave mistake – not getting her any friends on the right and losing her friends on the left.
What’s done is done. We can only hope that the participation of Noa in the events of "Jerusalem Day" would turn out to have been merely a single misstep, and that such a mistake would not be repeated. That in the future she would take again actions expressing a commitment to peace between the two peoples in this country, which is what she would do following her heart. Of that we are still convinced. .
I'd be grateful to you for bringing this letter to the attention of Noa herself.
Adam Keller Gush Shalom Spokesperson
See also Peace seekers don't sing on Jerusalem Day including our original letter