Shalom Life | August 25, 2015

President Rivlin Rescinds Invitation to Israeli Singer for anti-Arab Song

Amir Benayoun has responded to the blocking, saying he still "loves Rivlin" and respects his decision

By: Daniel Koren

Published: November 25th, 2014 in News » Israel

President Rivlin Rescinds Invitation to Israeli Singer for anti-Arab Song

Photo Caption: Singer Amir Benayoun

Photo Credit: Anat Levy


Amir Benayoun, a popular Israeli singer, was poised to perform at a state event next Sunday, November 30th, to mark the exile and expulsion of Jews from Arab Lands and Iran.

However, after releasing his new song, "Ahmed Loves Israel," President Reuven Rivlin's office rescinded the invitation to the singer, citing the song's anti-Arab connotations as the reasoning.

The song is satirical in nature, critical of Arab extremists who have recently been targeting and attacking innocent Israelis and Jews in Jerusalem.

Lyrics:

Salaam Aleikum, my name is Ahmed. I reside in Jerusalem, I study at the University a thing or two. There's no one like me that enjoys both worlds. Today I am moderate and smiling. Tomorrow I'll fly up to Heaven. Sending a Jew or two to Hell.

It's true I'm just a plain slimy ingrate. It is true but I'm not guilty as my childhood was loveless. It's true that moment you turn your back to me. Then I'll bring down on it a sharpened hatchet.

My name is Ahmed. I live in the country's center. I work right next to a kindergarten. And behind it some cooking gas balloons. There's no one like me that enjoys both worlds. Today I'll be me. And tomorrow they'll be not, Many many of them will not be.

It's true I'm just a plain slimy ingrate. It is true but I'm not guilty as my childhood was loveless. It's true that moment you turn your back to me. Then I'll shoot straight into it.

The President's Office announced Tuesday that they were cancelling Benayoun's performance "on the background" of the controversial song. Hours after the announcement, Benayoun responded, with a statement that was very respective and understanding of Rivlin's decision, saying that regardless, he still "loves" the Israeli President.

"On the matter of the announcement published by the President's Residence, which as anticipated by its drafters added oil to the broiling bonfire of your loyal servants in the media, I'd like to say that I respect the presidential institute and love president Rivlin with true love, and am happy that he is the person in the President's Residence at this time," Benayoun wrote on Facebook.

His Facebook page added that he "wrote a protest song from great pain over the recent wave of terror."

"It's nature is of course up for discussion, but we emphasize: the song speaks about the violence targeting citizens of Israel and pains over it, it (the song) has no intention to incite, and violence is not our path or the path of Judaism, even if there are those who try to claim it is. Amir will continue to sing his love for the land of Israel and the people of Israel in the free and democratic state of Israel," read the Facebook message.

In response to Rivlin's decision to cancel Benayoun's performance, Uri Orbach, of right-wing group Jewish Home, said he would no longer attend the event, because "punishing artists due to their opinions is an impermissible act, so unfortunately I cannot attend. If Benayoun isn't singing, I won't speak."

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