Daphne Klajman

The Grammy’s Stage: Deciphering Israel’s Absence

Last night, Harvey Mason Jr., the Recording Academy CEO, surprisingly paid tribute to the Nova Festival victims at the award ceremony in Los Angeles. Accompanied by a quartet made up of musicians of Palestinian, Israeli and Arab descent, he acknowledged and mourned recent terror attacks at music industry events. While the speech signified a commendable gesture from the music industry, it prompts us to explore a troubling detail. 

Mason Jr. noted the Bataclan Music Hall in Paris, the Manchester Arena in England, and the Route 91 music festival in Las Vegas, all sites of tragic events. He then spoke of the Nova Festival, where the deadliest attack against the Jewish people since the Holocaust occurred. Two recurring themes emerge from his speech: civilians falling victim to terror in music-related settings, and a mention of their home cities or countries, except for Nova.

This leads us to the crucial question: Why is Israel the exception?

This intentional omission is not a matter of geographical oversight; it is a gesture of unwanted neutrality in a conflict between evil and good. While expressing solidarity with the victims,  there is a hesitancy to stand firmly behind the country defending them. It’s a poignant message that mourns the lives lost but fails to acknowledge the genocidal ideology that brutality claimed them.

Tragedy extends beyond the immediate victims to the enduring trauma that echoes through generations in their families and home countries. While England, France, and the United States receive due acknowledgement in the speech, Israel remains too controversial for widespread empathy. 

During the broadcast, preceding the final speech, Annie Lennox paid an in-memorium homage to Sinead O’Connor, concluding her performance by shouting “Artists for ceasefire! Peace in the world!” Israel, though unmentioned by name, lingered as the elephant in the room.

Lennox’s performance stirred raving cheers from a crowd who has never, and will likely never, step foot in a warzone — a crowd that rallied for a ceasefire Hamas had rejected less than 24 hours prior.

Underneath the empty calls for peace loom subtle insinuations of either outright ignorance or appeasement for genocide. It allows faux-intellectuals to pat themselves on the back behind their gated mansions without addressing the Hamas-Israel conflict and its existential nature. Expecting Israel to unilaterally implement a ceasefire fails to recognize that Hamas will not cease until they succeed in exterminating every Jew and Israeli that crosses their path.

A meaningful ceasefire requires a genuine commitment from both sides to engage in dialogue. Unfortunately, Hamas has not demonstrated any sincerity or will for peace. Instead, they persist in engaging in warfare with tactics focused on increasing the exponential loss of Jewish lives, often at the expense of Palestinian ones.

In his 1986 Nobel Prize acceptance speech, Elie Wiesel famously stated, “Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim.” There exists a gross misunderstanding that the oppressor in this conflict is not the terrorist group employing human shields and obstructing aid to its population. Rather, it is the country sacrificing its own soldiers in an attempt to minimize civilian losses on the opposing side.

To refuse acknowledgment of where Nova took place is not only to question Israel’s struggle against Hamas but also Israel’s right to exist. Those calling for a ceasefire have adopted a neutral stance in the conflict and, subsequently, endorsed Hamas’s methods and goals. As we navigate the complexities of warfare in the pursuit of peace, it is crucial to acknowledge Israel’s right to exist, along with its unique moral duty to eradicate Hamas—a duty that transcends a mere military objective and becomes a moral imperative.

About the Author
Daphne Klajman holds a Masters’s Degree in Conflict Studies and Diplomacy from Reichmann University, Herzliya, Israel.
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