Lately J Street has made a few lame political decisions, one of them being joining with Stand With Us and the ADL in denouncing the Berkeley student divestment initiative. I’ve also been annoyed to discover that J Street is promoting Noa’s national concert tour:
STG Presents NOA with special guest MIRA AWAD
The Moore Theatre, Thursday, April 29, 2010, 8:00pm
Please join xxxxx in supporting the work of J Street:
Welcome Israeli artist Noa (Achinoam Nini) and Palestinian artist Mira Awad to Seattle. Noa and Mira will speak about their music and why they support J Street. This is a great chance to meet two talented artists face-to-face, and learn more about the work of J Street , in a beautiful lakefront setting.
Achinoam Nini, also known by her professional name Noa, is Israel’s leading international concert and recording artist. Over the span of a 15 year career with Gil Dor they produced four successful Israeli albums and four international albums.
Mira Awad, a Palestinian actress, singer and songwriter living in Israel, collaborated with Noa (Achinoam Nini) in her album “Now”, Idan Raichel in his second album “Mema’amakim”, Greek singer George Dalaras, and with hip hop artist Guy Mar. Mira is an actress with the Tel-Aviv Cameri Theatre, and on the TV series “Arab Labour”. She is featured in the movie “The Bubble”, recorded the theme songs for the films “Forgiveness” and “Lemon Tree.” Her debut album “Bahlawan-Acrobat” was released in May 2009, and was musically produced by guitarist Amos Ever-Hadani.
They’re apparently unaware that Noa voiced strong support for Operation Cast Lead, claimed Gazans sought Hamas’ overthrow, and expressed a devout wish that Israel would accomplish the task for them. She also called Hamas “Nazi-like” and ” a cancer,” accusing it of acts of rape and other heinous crimes which were baseless accusations. Here’s a taste of her ranting in case Jeremy Ben Ami didn’t do his due diligence before endorsing this woman’s performances:
I see the ugly head of fanaticism, I see it large and horrid, I see its black eyes and spine-chilling smile, I see blood on its hands and I know one of its many names: Hamas.You know this too, my brothers. You know this ugly monster. You know it is raping your women and raping the minds of your children. You know it is educating to hatred and death. You know it is chauvinistic and violent, greedy and selfish, it feeds on your blood and screams out Allah’s name on vain, it hides like a thief, uses the innocent as human shields, uses your mosques as arsenals, lies and cheats, uses YOU, tortures you, holds you hostage!!
I know this is true my brothers!! I know YOU know the truth!! And I know you cannot say it for fear of life so I will say it for you!!
…I know that deep in your hearts YOU WISH for the demise of this beast called Hamas who has terrorized and murdered you, who has turned Gaza into a trash heap of poverty, disease and misery. Who in the name of “allah” has sacrificed you on the bloody alter of pride and greed.
…I can only wish for you that Israel will do the job we all know needs to be done, and finally RID YOU of this cancer, this virus, this monster called fanaticism, today, called Hamas. And that these killers will find what little compassion may still exist in their hearts and STOP using you and your children as human shields for their cowardice and crimes.
Here is how Noa attempted to justify Israel’s election of the rightist Netanyahu government. She explained that the result shouldn’t be surprising in light of:
…The INCREDIBLE propaganda spread around the world by the ENORMOUS amount of Anti-Semites and Jew- haters who are bent on destroying Israel. When the Israeli population sees the lies spread around, the hypocrisy of the world who sees Israel as the aggressor rather than a country acting in self defence, a world whose eyes are blind to the killing and the massacres by the MUSLIM fanatics of the Palestinian people, of Fatah, of women who dare to raise their head, of ANYONE who does not agree with them, when the Israeli people who number 7 million, 1.5 million of them Arabs, see around them 1.5 BILLION Arabs, with hardly ONE voice raised in peace, compared to the ENDLESS Israeli and Jewish voices raised in peace
I realize that Noa is a performer and not a political analyst. But if she wants to make public political statements she has a responsibility to speak the truth and use facts rather than lies and prejudice. The passages above reveal her to be woefully uninformed about issues on which she claims to have some expertise and certainly some passion. Given the venom in these statements, why would J Street want to support her?
J Street also doesn’t seem to realize that the Israeli government, through the Israel Broadcasting Authority, cooked up the idea of Noa and Israeli Palestinian performer Mira Awad entering the Eurovision song contest singing a banal There Must Be Another Way. They also sing a baleful version of the Lennon-McCarthy, We Can Work it Out, as if solving the Israel-Palestine conflict was as easy as repairing a lover’s quarrel. For this they were “rewarded” with 16th place in the competition–a lackluster showing helped by the fact that the audience clearly saw through the hasbara nature of the performance.
J Street appears to believe that Noa and Awad together represent the best of what Israel is capable. Under other circumstances I might agree. I quite like Noa’s music and I find Mira Awad a compelling performer and I’ve written this here before. But I do not see how an American Jewish peace group can lend support to this enterprise given Noa’s shameful behavior during the Gaza war and her co-optation by the government to do its bidding in the propaganda wars subsequently.
Udi Aloni wrote a powerful critique of Noa’s support for the Gaza war.
I want to make clear that when J Street stands up for the right thing, I’m there to support it and I have done so. But when it steps in dog-doo as it has here, it deserves criticism and will hear it from me.