One of the most popular singers in Israel performed this week at the United Nations. Amidst extensive media coverage, Iranian-born singer Rita performed underneath a banner ”Tunes for peace” as Israeli diplomats danced and celebrated (surely the 1st time there’s ever been Israeli happiness at the United Nations).
Israeli Ambassador Ron Prosor proclaimed “It is our sincere hope that this musical evening will echo from New York to the hearts and minds of people throughout Israel and Iran – fostering better relations, understanding, and communication between our two peoples.” She sang five songs in Farsi, and a song in English called “Time for Peace.” No response from Iran as of yet – but if one came surely it wouldn’t have been conciliatory and wouldn’t speak of “peace.”
As a PR firm owner its clear from a Public Relations perspective that it was a great moment for Israel. Unlike in Arab countries, Rita won’t be lynched as an infidel upon her return to her homeland. Rita’s expression is symbolic of the Israeli approach and Israel’s desire – across the political spectrum – for peace.
The Israeli government funds Anti-Israel movies including the Oscar-nominated flicks “The Gatekeepers”, and “5 Broken Cameras” in the interest of democracy. And in Israel, from Knesset Members to human rights organizations there’s criticism of Israeli policies repeatedly. And there’s freedom unlike in Arab nations.
Unlike Israeli artists, leaders and governments, the Arab world conducts themselves much differently. Where is the Arab peace now? When’s the last time one can remember an Arab singer making noise about peace and co-existence? Culturally, in November, Arab artists pulled out of the Austria government-funded Salam Orient cultural festival because it was sponsored by the Israeli embassy.
The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) calls performers and other cultural workers to boycott events sponsored by official Israeli bodies. Israel calls for peace – and the Arab world boycotts and harms. Even now, Anti-Israel forces are pressuring Grammy-Award winner Alycia Keys (and Depeche Mode and others) to cancel planned concerts in Tel-Aviv this summer.
The Zionist leader Ze’ev Jabotinsky said many years ago: “A great commotion is currently afoot in Zionism, caused by the community of the seekers of peace, whose intention is to achieve (by way, of course, of preaching to the Jews alone) agreement with the Arabs.” He added “The Jewish people – all of us, 100 percent want peace.”
From the United Nations to the funding of Oscar-nominated movies it’s quite clear that the Israeli people want peace. But peace can’t be made by only one side.