Achinoam Nini was invited to perform on May 18th in the Adat Shalom Synagogue in Farmington Hills. Pressure from a local group in the Jewish community caused the performance to be canceled. An article was written about this in The Detroit Jewish News – this is my response to that article.
Dear Detroit Jewish News,
The way this article is put together highlights the extreme disconnect between the Jewish community in the USA and that in Israel.
I write this as a Detroit-born American who has lived in Israel more years than I lived in the United States. I write this as an Israeli Jew, speaking to my American brothers and sisters.
You don’t understand. Not at all.
Israel is a land of freedom. Free speech is cherished, often to extreme levels. It is fashionable for the artists and media to belong to the political left (exactly the opposite of the majority of the country who has right leaning tendencies). There is no problem with criticism. There is no problem with belonging to the “peace camp”.
(BTW – do you realize how arrogant and offensive the term “peace camp” is? Do you really think everyone on the right wants war?).
Obviously, there are few people in the world who are as talented as Achinoam “Noa” Nini. She is world renowned for her voice and rightly so. Although she is high in demand for performances for world leaders there is very little demand for her in Israel. She spends very little time here. Do you know why? Her behavior has made her unofficially “persona non-grata”.
This isn’t a matter of freedom of speech. Anyone can say whatever they want. But there are consequences. Noa is entitled to her opinions. The fact that her opinions are so extreme, that she has more sympathy for the terrorists that murder Israelis than for her fellow Israelis, is what makes her repugnant to the majority of the population here.
But in America it is easy to declare that it’s “just about music, one should be able to differentiate the performer and her opinions.”
In the article, Jane Fonda is given as an example of a performer with objectionable politics that an “honorable” person “should be able to differentiate a person’s politics from their artistic abilities.” Let’s consider Ms. Fonda. What did she actually do? Many young people were against the Vietnam War but she seemed to publicly be siding with the enemy while there were American POWs. She crossed a line that many Americans, especially soldiers and people whose loved ones were soldiers considered unforgivable. To this day, there are people who have not forgiven her, even though she has since apologized repeatedly.
Now consider Noa. She doesn’t just have political opinions. She has an agenda that supports those who attack Israel while ripping into Israeli society and the democratically elected government. To her, Mahmoud Abbas, a terrorist financier, inciter and Holocaust denier is a “man of peace” while Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is a Nazi. To her organizations that undermine the IDF, publishing lies about Israeli soldiers in international forums are legitimate and “peace loving”. Every possible opportunity she implies that it is Israel’s fault terrorists are murdering us. That we are the violent and vile people while those attacking us are perfectly fine.
Noa, at every chance she gets, gives justification to those who commit acts of terror and war against her own people.
This stance is revolting to Israelis but even so, would be overlooked – if she did not push it so hard on people who attend her concerts, who listen to her speak publicly.
The problem is that going to her concert means supporting her agenda. Hiring her to sing means supporting her agenda – because she is so vocal about it, it is impossible to separate the singer from the anti-Israel tune she is singing in every possible venue.
In America, it is easy to declare that it’s “just about music” because it’s not your children that are put in danger because of this woman’s ideas.
Americans couldn’t forgive Ms. Fonda for seeming to justify those attacking American soldiers fighting in a land that had nothing to do with the lives of the average American. Noa justifies those who are murdering Israelis in our own land, every opportunity she gets, in every forum, in front of world leaders. She supports those who vilify Israeli soldiers, the protectors of Israel, WHILE Israelis are being murdered. And she has done so for years.
Now the question is – is it acceptable to pressure people that hire Noa to shut down the concerts? In a normal situation, I would say no. Threats of violence are certainly unacceptable (and from everything I read it seems that there were no actual threats of violence). This, however, is not a normal situation.
Frankly, I was pleased to learn that there are some American Jews aware enough of what is happening to declare that hiring this woman is unacceptable. Often, from Israel, it seems like American Jews are so out of touch that they have no idea what is happening in Israel or could care less. From the comfort of America, it may seem acceptable to “simply enjoy the music and ignore the politics” but what is being ignored is the security of the only Jewish homeland in the world. What is being ignored is our struggle for survival and the struggle to keep this land safe for all Jews if and when they need to come. (The Jews of France understand what this means. I pray you never will be forced to truly understand this).
What is also being ignored is that the enemies of Jews always see Jews first. Because you are comfortable does not mean that you are safe from Jew hate. The Jews of Germany felt that they were Germans first but their neighbors felt otherwise. You may think Noa’s extremism affects only Israelis and as such, you can ignore it, but if you need to send your kids to college, in America, you might begin to feel differently about people like Noa and the anti-Israel organizations she supports.
Not to speak is to speak.
This isn’t about free speech. This is about life.
It is time to stand up for Zion. Even if that means missing out on some good music.