Earlier this week, Adat Shalom Synagogue in Farmington Hills canceled a concert scheduled for May…
Viewpoints on Cancellation of Noa’s Concert
Precedent For Public Blackmail
Upon hearing that Congregation Adat Shalom had cancelled its Achinoam Nini (Noa) concert, I suddenly felt disoriented. Had I fallen through a sci-fi rabbit hole into a different era, transported to another country, become part of a 1984 community where all communication is monitored?
By acquiescing to a “vocal minority … of right-wing Jews that hold opposing viewpoints [to Noa’s],” Adat Shalom has vindicated the same kind of public thuggery and gangster-like intimidation that is engulfing communities and nations throughout the globe. The synagogue cited the need for “the safety of our community, our congregation.” No. It has established a precedent for public blackmail.
Noa, one of Israel’s premier entertainers, was coming here to sing — not to politicize. Ironically, she has been very vocal in opposing right-wing legislation in Israel that seeks to censor performers and cultural groups by withholding funds from those who oppose the current government.
From the generation of the Pilgrims to those of our parents and grandparents, immigrants came to America to escape the constraints and censorship of their native lands. To be able to speak and act — and sing — as they pleased.
But more fundamentally, what if Noa (or anyone else) had been scheduled for a political discussion? By whose standard of political acceptability should we allow such appearances?
The answer to that question was clear a generation ago when the House Un-American Affairs Committee’s Sen. Joe McCarthy sought to browbeat artists and individuals (many Jewish) because of their political beliefs.
The answer is obvious today to anyone who stands firm against Israel boycott activities. It is indisputable to all who discern the echoes of fascism that resonate in contemporary political discourse. That singular answer opposing any limitation to freedom of expression can be our only response, the only way to honor the lives sacrificed for this principle.
Jewish literature, from the Torah to weekly rabbinic sermons, is replete with homilies that seek to objectify moral principles through ritual or exemplary actions or prototypical personalities. Their paramount message is constant: We need to act when our fundamental precepts are endangered. Hiding behind mundane rationalization is simply cowardice.
Coincidentally, former President Obama last week characterized courage: “Courage, true courage, derives from that sense of who we are, what are our best selves, what are our most important commitments. … a conscience, personal standard of ethics, integrity, morality that is stronger than the pressures of public disapproval … a faith that [overcomes] fear of public reprisal.”
We cannot settle for less.
Noa’s Infamous Views
Ms. Nini is a talented singer, but her hatred of Jews who live in Judea and Samaria, the Golan and eastern Jerusalem is infamous. It is an example of sinat hinam, baseless hatred. For that reason, she refuses to perform over the “Green Line” (the Armistice lines of 1949). And, for that reason, many Israelis will not attend her performances.
Although she says that she does not support organizations that boycott Israel, she does support boycotting products from what she calls “the occupied territories” and opposes all “settlements.”
She is entitled to her disgraceful and divisive opinions, but she herself has made them an issue. That is why she is not invited to perform at national events in Israel.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Look for more views on the concert cancellation, including those from Richard Nodel, Tzvi Raviv and Itamar Ilsar, next week.
Hope Against Hate
I enjoyed attending “Hope Against Hate,” examining the existential challenges — and potential solutions — facing Jewish communities today. It was dynamic and informative.
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