The recent controversy over the cancellation of two concerts sponsored by the group OneVoice, to have been held simultaneously on Oct. 18 in Israeli-occupied Jericho and Tel Aviv, has drawn wide recriminations from its New York-based leadership. OneVoice was founded by Daniel Lubetsky, a young Israeli-Mexican-American polyglot businessman. He has called the mostly Palestinian critics of OneVoice “extremists” who are against peace. Ironically, one of the Israeli musicians Lubestky hired for OneVoice’s ill-fated Tel Aviv show was the popular Israeli singer Ehud Banai. Banai recently got into some hot water of his own with the Israeli left. We were first tipped off to this controversy by a comment left on OneVoice’s blog:
After hearing you had invited the Israeli singer Ehud Banai to sing in a concert in Tel Aviv I had decided to withdraw andy support and sympathy for your organization. Mr. Banai had just came back from a performance in a extreme right wing settlement in the west bank. He should be banned, not suppoerted!
The extreme right-wing settlement the anonymous commenter referred to is Nokdim, home of Israel’s Minister for Strategic Affairs, MK Avigdor Lieberman. Besides living in violation of international law in Nokdim, in the area of settlements the Israeli government collectively refers to as the Gush Etzion Bloc, Lieberman is known for his extremist rhetoric, such as calling for drowning Palestinian prisoners and blowing up the Aswan dam, and advocates the “transfer” of Palestinian Israeli citizens to PA rule.
The Israeli left-wing organization Gush Shalom wrote on its website on Sept. 9:
Dancing to the settlers’ tune
Artists Idan Reichal, Ehud Banai, and Ety Ankary have sold their souls to the settlers; peace seekers to boycott their performances
Singers Idan Reichal, Ehud Banai, Ety Ankary and the Madreygot Group are scheduled to perform at the festival planned by the Gush Etzion settlers (in the Bethlehem Region of the West Bank) during the Sukkot Holiday, in order to “celebrate” forty years to the creation of settlements there. As explicitly stated in the settlers’ own website, this is part of a campaign aimed at legitimizing these settlements in the Israeli public opinion, i.e. preventing a peace agreement which would necessitate their dismantling.
Use of the name “Gush Etzion” (The Etzion Bloc) in itself constitutes an attempt to cheat the public. “Gush Etzion” was the name of a cluster of four small kibbutzim which stubbornly resisted Arab forces in 1948 until being destroyed and around which a heroic myth developed in Israel. There might have been a legitimate claim for recreating them (had israel been willing to recreate in exchange four Palestinian villages destroyed in the same war). However, nowadays this name is applied to dozens of small and big settlements which take up enormous territory all around the Palestinian city of Bethlehem, and bear no connection or resemblance to the pre-1948 “Gush Etzion”, including the ever – expanding settlement-city of Efrat.
The one and only purpose for the creation of these settlements is to cut the West Bank to pieces, cut the cities of Bethlehem and Hebron off from each other, and deny to the Palestinians the territorial continuity which is vital for genuine statehood. On these very days, inhabitants of villages in this area such as Umm Salamuna conduct, with the help of Israeli and international peace volunteers, a persistent struggle against the Separation Fence, which cuts deeply into their land and pass it into the possession of the Gush Etzion settlers . The settlers themselves, however, are displeased with the route of the fence, and demand to change it so as to gain even far more Palestinian land.
The Israeli artists who had avoided military service, have been already for months the target of an intensive hate campaign in the media. But the artists who for monetary gain collaborate with the settlers in a project aimed at preventing any chance for peace, at perpetuating hatred and bloodshed – about them nobody is talking.
The artists Idan Reichal, Ehud Banai, Ety Ankary and the Madreygot Group have made themselves into mercenaries and lackeys of the settlers – not even out of ideology, but simply after getting considerable amounts of money. They are all scheduled to appear at the “Israeli Home” festival organized by the settlers on the forthcoming Sukkot Holiday. Idan Reichel is due to appear on the “central stage” to be erected at the settlement of Nokdim – home of the arch – racist demagogue Avigdor Lieberman.
Artists who have prostituted themselves in such a shameful way do not deserve to have Israeli peace seekers come to their performances or spend money for their CD’s.
Contact: Adam Keller, Gush Shalom Spokesperson email@example.com
Gush Etzion settler website
Not to take it lying down, Avigdor Lieberman then called Gush Shalom “Kapos” for their protest, according to Gush Shalom on Oct. 10:
Lieberman attacks Gush Shalom and Yesh Gvul
Gush Shalom considers lodging a libel suit against Minister Avigdor Lieberman, for the “Kapo” comparison.
“The fact that such a person is a government minister is badge of infamy and danger to democracy”
Gush Shalom, the Israeli Peace Bloc, considers lodging a libel suit against Minister Avigdor Lieberman, who in an interview to the First Channel TV attacked the movement’s members (as well as those of “Yesh Gvul”) and called them “Nazi Kapos.”
Gush Shalom immediately checked the matter with its legal advisers. “There can be little doubt that such words constitute libel of the most severe and malignant form – not to mention the desecration of the Holocaust victims’ memory – and Liberman would find it difficult to defend such words at a court of law. What makes is worse is that these things were said by a man who built his whole career on acerbating conflicts and the spreading of hatred, and in spite of that became cabinet minister.
Lieberman’s special anger was aroused by Gush Shalom’s boycott campaign against the artists Idan Reichal, Ehud Banai, Ety Ankary, who performed at a “festival” organized by the Gush Etzion settlers (in the Bethlehem Region of the West Bank). Among other things, Idan Reichel performed on the “central stage” erected at the settlement of Nokdim – Avigdor Lieberman’s own home.
“It is clear that the boycott campaign which we initiated has touched a sensitive and painful spot for Lieberman and his fellow settlers, namely the illegitimacy of the settlements. Lieberman claims that in the Israeli public “there is a complete consensus about the Gush Etzion settlements,” which is simply not true.
In such a situation there can be no chance of peace.
Contact: Adam Keller, Gush Shalom Spokesperson firstname.lastname@example.org
According to the Orthodox Anarchist blog, which is run by Jewish Telegraphic Agency employee Dan Sierdarski, the Israeli OneVoicers made an especially poor impression at a OneVoice press event: “Don’t even get me started on my interaction with OneVoice’s Israeli participants who were present at the blogger event, one of whom told me that ‘If it came down to a choice between saving a hundred Jewish lives or killing a million Palestinians, I wouldn’t even blink, I would kill them all.’ He’s a moderate?”
Gideon Spiro, an Israeli journalist and activist, wrote the following open letter to OneVoice on Oct.9
I read the list of names of Israelis who support you, and of the organizations that joined you as member organizations and find that there is no escape from concluding that you’ve fallen into the trap of being all-embracing. For example, MK Gila Finkelstein from the Hamafdal [NRP, or National Religious] party who supports settlers, settlements, and the policies of occupation and apartheid that Israel carries out in the territories, can she be considered moderate? Or again, MK Ephraim Sneh, who until recently was Deputy Minister of Defense and responsible for the collective punishment of Palestinians, for orders to kill without trial (targeted killings, assassinations, as the occupation terms them), who was responsible for the killing of children and women–is he moderate? Again, the Likud and Shas youth who joined you support the occupation, the apartheid wall, and collective punishment. Is there any common ground between them and Meretz Youth?
Your desire to embrace all, including contradictories, results in the fact that not once in your texts does the word “occupation” appear, as if there were no Israeli occupation. Your texts likewise omit the words ‘human rights abuses,” which are integral to the occupation.