On August 23rd I had the pleasure of performing in the impressive “Notte de la Tarante” festival in Melpignano , Italy.
It is a wonderful celebration of the traditional Taranta music of the region. hundreds of thousands of people, many of them young, show up to celebrate, sing and dance. Not with Madonna or the Rolling Stones, but with their own heritage, their own roots.
Being an honorary citizen of Melpignano, an extraordinary place with a unique mayor (the one and only Sergio Blasi) which deserves a chapter of its own, I was happy to accept the invitation to participate in this exceptional event. I came together with the wonderful Mira Awad. We were to each sing one song from the taranta repertoire, and then sing our song, “there must be another way”, together.
(For whoever does not know, Mira is a Palestinian Israeli singer-songwriter. We represented Israel this year in the Eurovision song contest with a song we wrote in three languages, Arabic Hebrew and English, conveying a message of tolerance and co-existence to hundreds of millions of people around the world.)
I went on stage at roughly 1:30 am (it’s an all night event). After singing the beautiful Taranta song “damme nu ricciu” , I spoke to the audience, saying how happy and proud I was to be there, and explaining that the song they were about to hear bore the message of peace and co-existence, breaking the walls between languages and cultures , bringing hope though music. I then invited Mira to the stage. As I looked out over the audience I saw a huge sign. It said “mira and noa…”, and I couldn’t make out the rest. There was a map of Israel, and Palestinian flags were waving.
I immediately interpreted this as a sign of support from the audience for the work mira and I were doing, and this made me very happy. When mira came on stage I pointed it out to her joyfully, wanting to share the beautiful moment. We sang together with energy and intention, as we always do, took our bow, and I went off stage, leaving mira to her solo song. I could hear the audience yelling “mira, mira”, and I was once again happy they were embracing my friend with love and respect, as they have always embraced me.
When I got to the side of the stage, I saw galia my tour manager looking like a ghost, with tears in her eyes. I asked her what was wrong?? And she said:”the sign, the sign! Didn’t you see it? I’m devastated…”.
That’s when I realized my mistake. I became cold as a rock.
You see, dear friends, it was no sign of support. No demonstration of unity and hope, of willingness to build a better future.
The sign said: : “noa and mira, accomplices in the killing machine. Israel=Nazis”.
Yes, that’s what the sign said. Right in front of our faces.
And the calls ‘mira mira’ were to the killer mira, the criminal mira.
Her crime? Singing for peace. Daring to hope for a better future.
The organization who are responsible for this hijacked the Taranta festival for their own selfish, ignorant, destructive propaganda-driven agenda. And their southern-Italian hosts were just too polite, sweet and open-minded to do anything about it.
The Italians around me were unbelieving, shocked and apologetic. For many of them I am a sort of hero. Years of concerts, stubborn insistence on playing even in the smallest venues and sustaining the highest level of musicianship and originality and tireless work for peace have gained me their unwavering love and admiration. They simply could not understand this rude and violent display of hatred.
I know these Palestinian groups. This is not the first time they have shown me their ‘love’. They have been haunting me for years. I have tried communicating with them by mail, tried intelligent dialogue and reasoning but to no avail. The fact that I have dedicated half my life to supporting the Palestinian cause, at a very high personal price, means nothing to them.
These groups represent a very small part of the Palestinian people. As always, most people want to live and not die. To live and let live. To live.
But these groups know how to make noise. They are funded by big money from fanatic organizations that call for nothing less than the death of my children and the destruction of my country (unless of course I convert to islam and wear a burka). They have no interest whatsoever in finding a ‘path to follow’ that will lead to two states for two people, coexistence, prosperity and peace. Their agenda includes fanning the flames of hatred and war for eternity, until we all burn in a hell of vengeance and self-righteousness
I have no intention of embarking once again on the endless, futile dissection of thewhat/who/where/why/how of middle eastern politics. I’ve been around that block too many times and it has led me nowhere.
I say only this:
There are two options.
Either we eternalize the violence, hatred, suffering killing and vengeance and pass it on to our children and our children’s children like a bloody, cursed inheritance.
we put the past respectfully behind us and look to the future, using all of our resources to find a way to live together without violence.
My agenda is clear.
I have children and I have no time to waste on testosterone-driven religious fanatics who want to die and kill in the name of some god or another and pull us all down with them. Or bored European pseudo-intellectuals who need a cause and choose one carelessly.
I CHOOSE LIFE.
As I’ve said many times before,
Recognize, Apologize, Share. (you can read the elaborate version of that theory in a former blog)
So, despite how hurt I was by what occurred, I plan to continue in just the same way, stubbornly, adamantly, bull headedly, with full belief that…
there must be another way.