BY MAXINE DOVERE
Achinoam Nini (“Noa”), one of Israel’s most accomplished cultural icons, will present an Evening of Song on Feb. 11 at the Free Synagogue of Flushing.
The announcement has generated hate mail and threats against the producer, the synagogue and the artist.
Moishe Rosenfeld, the president of Golden Land Concerts & Connections, for decades the go-to source for Jewish and Israeli entertainment, said, “This hateful campaign needs to be exposed for what it is: opposition to Noa’s support for a two-state solution, a position shared by most Israelis. Noa is a patriot, outspoken about her desire for a peaceful, secure future for her beloved Israel. Alan Brava’s courage in standing up for Israeli art and against intimidation is extraordinary.”
Alan Brava is executive director of the Free Synagogue of Flushing. He has produced synagogue and community concerts for decades, including four featuring Noa. Emails condemning the concert and disparaging Noa have flown to his desk since its announcement.
“Every email included the term ‘anti-Israel,’” said Brava, “and warned against having her perform.”
Achinoam Nini is a Sabra (native Israeli) of Yemenite Jewish background. Born in Tel Aviv, Noa grew up in New York in a “very Israeli home.” She attended SAR—Salanter Akiba Riverdale Academy—a modern Orthodox Day school, returning to Israel at 16. After military service, she studied at Israel’s Rimon School of Jazz and Contemporary Music, where she met songwriting partner and musical collaborator Gil Dor. Nini is married to Dr. Asher Barak and is the mother of three.
Noa represents Israel around the world. She has performed at the White House, in the Vatican and in Davos; and has written and produced hundreds of songs and recorded the theme song for the Oscar-winning film Life Is Beautiful.
She has sung with Sting, Stevie Wonder Andrea Bocelli and dozens of international artists. On Nov. 4, 1995, Noa was on stage with P. M. Yitzhak Rabin moments before the fatal shooting.
Noa believes, “Israeli artists who perform abroad invariably carry a message of peace, culture and art. There are so many people in our country who believe in peace…and on the other side of the border, too. Every human being who wants to live in peace must work for it. You can’t expect people to do the work for you….I’m a singer, so I sing for peace. As for artists boycotting Israel, I am absolutely against that. [Israel] is a pluralistic place, a diverse place.
Turning your back on Israel and not playing here plays directly into the hands of the extremists. Not coming here is making the situation much, much worse.”
Rosenfeld calls Noa “one of Israel’s most illustrious singers, an iconic part of Israeli culture.…Noa’s music sheds light on Israeli culture, diversity, beauty and depth,” noting that she received the blessing of Shimon Peres.
“Saying she is not patriotic or pro- Israel is libelous.…There has to be a loud counter voice that tells the truth! When false things are said, they can gain momentum: Everyone not in favor of kicking out Arabs or destroying Israeli democracy is considered an enemy. There’s a small right-wing coalition representing special interests.”