A French singer is facing calls to apologize for her support for Israel or abandon a Middle Eastern tour, a few weeks ahead of a planned performance in Lebanon.
In a case echoing that of Belgian-Italian singer Lara Fabian, who abandoned her trip to Lebanon earlier this year when it emerged she had sung at a festival celebrating the 60th anniversary of the creation of Israel, Julie Zenatti has been asked to abandon her trip if she will not renege on her pro-Zionist position.
Zenatti, who is part of the musical Notre Dame de Paris which is due to be performed in Lebanon on July 9 and 10, performed at the same concert as Fabian.
At the 1998 performance she sung “Jerusalem of Gold,” which celebrates the capture of the West Bank and East Jerusalem by Israel in 1967 and which Zionist activists have even urged become the country’s national anthem.
The annexation of the East Jerusalem and the West Bank in 1967 was illegal under international law and Israel has since refused to return to its previous borders.
The state of Israel was created in 1948 by the forcible removal of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians, many of whom were killed in the onslaught.
Asad Ghsoub from the Campaign to Boycott the Supporters of Israel in Lebanon, said they were in contact with the event's host over the concert and added it was not acceptable for Zenatti to claim that she wasn't making a political statement by performing at the concert.
“She is playing the victim and saying she is about peace but she sang at a celebration of Israel, do they not understand what that means?” he said.
Ghsoub said they were not calling for a boycott of the entire performance and were instead looking just for Zenatti to be excluded, adding that if she would reverse her support for the oppression of Palestinians she would be welcome.
“Of course if she will apologize for her performance in 2008 then we will be happy for her to come but I don’t think that will happen.”
The campaign's letter is copied below.
The Campaign to Boycott the Supporters of Israel in Lebanon recognizes that performances within the enemy state serve to condone its crimes, thereby encouraging it to commit more of its crimes now that they have been further “normalized.” It is as if Israel is saying: “sing as you wish, and let us kill as we will!” However, the Campaign also recognizes that performing in the enemy state is 'less harmful’ than declaring direct support to the occupation, the settlements, and to Zionism.
The Band 'Notre Dame de Paris,” which shall perform twice in Beirut comprises of a number of artists, including Julie Zenatti and Luck Mervil. However, while Mervil participated in a protest, a few years ago in Canada, in solidarity with Palestine and against “The Terrorist Sharon and his Accomplice Bush” (one of the slogans at the protest), the situation is quite different with Zenatti.
Zenatti, like the Zionist singer Lara Fabian, participated in the 60th “celebration” of the creation of the enemy state in Trocadero, Paris in 2008. And as with Lara Fabian, who sang, in Hebrew, the poem 'the Eucalyptus Tree’, by the Zionist poet Naomi Shamir, exalting the Zionist settlements since 1913, Zenatti sang another poem by Shamir, entitled “Yurshalem Shal Zahab” (Jerusalem of gold), exalting the Israeli occupation to East Jerusalem since 1967.
It is important to note that Shamir wrote the poem – Jerusalem of gold – as a direct request from then Israeli mayor of Jerusalem, Teddy Kollek, so that it may be sung in the 'Israeli Musical Festival’ on May 15, 1967 – three weeks before the 6-day war. (Shamir further acknowledged that she stole the musical composition, “unknowingly,” from one of the Basque composers.)
At that time, East Jerusalem was still under Jordanian rule. Shamir wrote, in the poem, lamenting 'the dry wells’ and the 'empty markets’ in the city, and the loneliness the city feels. (“My city is alone, and in her heart are a old, lonely wall.”) She describes how no longer is the sound of the bugle heard, calling people from the Temple Mount to prayer, and how it is impossible to cross from West Jerusalem to the Dead Sea via Jericho.
When the song was released, it was regarded as the equivalent of an Israeli Military Anthem, and preserving the morale of the Israeli soldiers. On the 5th of June, the enemy launched its infamous expansionist war; Jerusalem was occupied on June 7th. On that particular day, Shamir heard the Israeli paratroopers singing her poem in front of the Wailing Wall, so she then added a part to the poem, transforming the sorrow of the poem: And thus, by 'reclaiming’ East Jerusalem into Israel, the dry wells have been filled, and people have returned to the empty square, and the bugle from Temple Mount is heard anew, in a loud voice, calling people to prayer, and people shall return to East Jerusalem from Jericho.
After the 1967 war, this song was awarded 'Song of the year” and was named “the second Israeli anthem”; some even suggested that it replace 'Hatkava,’ the current Israeli anthem. Julie Zenatti, then, sang, at the 60th 'celebration’ of the creation of the Zionist entity a poem that was regarded as equivalent to the Israeli national anthem. Isn’t this enough for our voices to rise clearly and say: Ms. Zinatti, we will not allow you to insult us, in the midst of our homes, with your ugly exaltations to the Zionist occupation of Jerusalem?
The Campaign for the Boycott of the Supporters of 'Israel’ in Lebanon calls upon all to boycott the two performances of 'Notre Dame de Paris” so long as this group does not exclude the Zionist Julie Zenatti from amongst them. And it is important for the Campaign, by the way, to remind those who claim support of “international law” that Zenatti herself violated international law when she supported the occupation of Jerusalem and its annexation to 'Israel.’
So let our people state again: Art, regardless, we will not forget justice. Art will not let us forget Palestine. Art will not let us forget the blood of our martyrs, and the pain of our exile and our occupation. Julie Zenatti: Enjoy the occupiers of our Jerusalem, but, please, stay amongst them.
Posted on 29-06-2012