Thursday, October 27, 2016

The Bitch, the Witch and the imminent Switch.....pre-election ruminations

Here’s my take on the United States’ presidential election campaign, that will come to its cataclysmic, life-changing culmination in the coming days.

I don’t want to talk about Trump. He has already wasted too much of the world’s time, and I will not grant him any more attention than he has already, grotesquely and gluttonously, sought out and achieved. I can summarize Trump in one word: Disgusting. Through and through, simply disgusting. If he gets elected, I will be calling Elon Musk and reserving my ticket to the moon. It has also become clear in recent days that if he does not get elected, the damage he will do is so great that the moon might look like a pretty good option anyway. Therefor I will deny him even the pleasure of basking in my disdain.

I do want to talk about Hillary.

I do not know her personally (though I did perform in White House when she was first lady), and I have not done my Columbia University PhD thesis on her life and career. My sources of information about her are identical to those about her opponent (trying to avoid the “T” word ..).

I did recently run across a list of her achievements though. They are printed out at the bottom of this Blog.

Reading this list, you cannot but say to yourself: Woah. Woah. This is one serious woman. She has excelled everywhere, dedicated her life to civil and public service, collected a ton of ribbons and accolades and has climbed, step by grueling step, up the male-dominated political ladder to finally stand one step before the most coveted job in the universe: President of the United States of America. And as if that were not enough, FIRST WOMAN to do it.

WOW.

Now, I have been following the counter-Hillary campaign, the bashing, the insults, the threats, the belittling, the disregard. She has been held responsible for all her husband’s wrongs (never, of course credited with any of his many achievements), she has been  called a criminal, virtually tried and sentenced,  she has been called too strong, too weak, too ill, too hard, too brittle, too ANYTHING but what she actually is: A determined human being, a strong woman who has done her very best and succeeded in every position she has held, who is talented, brilliant and committed, and , with all her imperfections, has the potential of being an excellent, ground breaking  President.

 I have read the “accusations” against Mrs. Clinton. About her “lack of warmth” (no, she is definitely not Little Miss Muppet), her stubbornness, her control-freak nature, her political savvy, her manipulative tendencies, her string-pulling and her affinity to big money.
In the eyes of her critics, Clinton is what you would call, a Bitch. A Bitch out of Hell.
Has anyone reading this Blog ever thought what the MALE counterpart to BITCH is? Let me tell you: It’s POWERFUL LEADER. It’s STRONG MAN. Or GREAT POLITICIAN. It’s A GUY WHOSE GOT WHAT IT TAKES TO BE PRESIDENT, ‘CAUSE HE KNOWS HOW TO PLAY THE GAME RIGHT.

Needless to say, if Clinton were none of the above, meaning NOT a Bitch, she would be called too weak, inexperienced, out of her league, too sweet, too nice, too this or too that. So, as Paul Simon wrote “..when you’ve got to choose, any way you look at it you lose..”

I have also read about the infamous e-mail saga, “mail-gate” (this always seems to come up when politically correct media, after publishing a list of Trump’s horrific incitements, lies and scandals, feels compelled to “balance” the situation…so, for the millionth time, they bring out the e-mail issue. Does anyone buy that??)
 I have read the e-mails, those that were published. I could not find ONE that said anything at all. I could not find ANYTHING wrong with her correspondences except the actual use, in the past, of a private server for classified mail…yes, that WAS a problem, but today with WIKILEAKS?? The most top secret stuff in the WORLD is exposed day in day out, from years past and from yesterday, and aside from a bit of tongue clicking, I do not see any MALE heads rolling, do you???

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, all of the above has lead me to believe that the attempts to destroy Hillary are nothing less than a modern-day version of the Salem Witch Hunt and/or the Spanish Inquisition (they were hunting witches too). Here we see all of humanity’s ugliest, most despicable demons bursting forth from their deepest, most odious hiding places and baring their fangs before us all. Here we see ALL the most abusive, destructive, chauvinistic, patriarchal, misogynist sides of the human species, those invented by power-hungry men, solidified by the cruelest dictators and tyrants and, unfortunately, embraced and exacerbated by most of the world’s religions.

Here we see a threat, a REAL and TERRIBLE threat to male domination, to “proper world order”! Here we see woman-kind,  that for years was forced into submission, sold and raped and abused and looked down upon, denied basic rights,  freedom, education and opportunities, all for the comfort and pleasure of the male species, completing the long, long journey taken by brave females for many centuries, from Noa, whose name I bear, the first feminist in the Bible, through Miriam, and Dvora, through women warriors, prophets,  leaders, artists and innovators throughout history, to the Suffragettes  and feminist activists in every corner of the globe, and up to this moment, the last nail in the coffin: A female an inch away from running the world’s greatest super power.

There is too much to lose, red alert is on, nothing will stop the ugly demons from grinding Hillary Clinton’s bones. They would even go so far as entrusting the world’s greatest super-power to the hands of the grossest, most vulgar pussy-grabber on the planet. Anything, but a woman.

So, I say, to all of you out there, children of the future: President Obama has said, we live in a world of imperfect choices. Hillary is far from perfect, and in that sense, she is every bit human. But I believe, and I am not alone, that she has all the qualifications, experience and talent to lead the US, and with it the world, to a place of hope and change.

As a citizen of the United States residing outside her borders, I have already cast my ballot in Clinton’s favor.

I wish her, and all of us, the best of luck. 



30 facts about Hillary Clinton:
1. First ever student commencement speaker at Wellesley College.
2. Distinguished graduate of Yale Law School.
3. Editorial board of the Yale Review of Law and Social Action.
4. Co-founded Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families.
5. Former civil litigation attorney.
6. Staff attorney for Children’s Defense Fund.
7. Faculty member in the School of Law at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville.
8. Former Director of the Arkansas Legal Aid Clinic.
9. First female chair of the Legal Services Corporation.
10. First female partner at Rose Law Firm, the oldest and one of the largest law firms in Arkansas.
11. Twice named by The National Law Journal as one of the 100 Most Influential Lawyers in America.
12. Former First Lady of Arkansas.
13. Arkansas Woman of the Year in 1983.
14. Chair of the American Bar Association’s Commission on Women in the Profession.
15. Created Arkansas’s Home Instruction Program for Preschool Youth.
16. Instrumental in passage of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program.
17. First Lady of the United States.
18. Promoted nationwide immunization against childhood illnesses.
19. Successfully sought to increase research funding for prostate cancer and childhood asthma at the National Institutes of Health.
20. Worked to investigate reports of an illness that affected veterans of the Gulf War (now recognized as Gulf War Syndrome).
21. Helped create the Office on Violence Against Women at the Department of Justice.
22. Initiated and shepherded the Adoption and Safe Families Act.
23. First FLOTUS ( First Lady of the United States ) in US History to hold a postgraduate degree.
24. Helped create Vital Voices, an international initiative to promote the participation of women in the political processes of their countries.
25. Two-term New York Senator and the first ex-FLOTUS in US History to be elected to the United States Senate.
26. Served on five Senate committees: Budget (2001–2002), Armed Services (2003–2009), Environment and Public Works (2001–2009), Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (2001–2009) and the Special Committee on Aging.
27. Member of the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe.
28. Leading role in investigating the health issues faced by 9/11 first responders.
29. Worked with Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York on securing $21.4 billion in funding for the World Trade Center redevelopment.
30. Former United States Secretary of State.
Brokered a ceasefire deal between Israel and Hamas in 2012.



Monday, October 3, 2016

Shalom Shimon ...Parting from Shimon Peres

It took me a few days to digest the passing of Shimon Peres and what it means, to me personally and to Israel. Much has been written on subject, about his enormous contribution to Israel’s security, future, stability and sustainability, as well his determination and devotion to  peace with our neighbors, the Palestinians and the entire middle east.  He truly was a visionary and a prophet, a man of enormous ambition, charisma and passion, an intellectual, a lover of life and the living and a believer in the power of the human spirit to heal and build, an indefatigable optimist, and the epitome of a “wise man”. Of course as all humans are, he too was not without fault. Much too has been written about his moments of weakness, conflict and crisis, but all said and done, here was a man who dedicated his life to progress and peace…. A public servant for more than four decades  in every influential position in Israeli leadership, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, unique in every way. Peres was not Israel as it is, but Israel as it wishes to be… as it can be, if only….

I had the honor of spending many hours with Shimon Peres on various occasions. Personal and public meetings, conferences, performances, private lunches, football-for-peace games, meetings in Israel and abroad, Peres gave me endless opportunities to lend my voice to the greater cause of Peace and co-existence. He invited me to participate in momentous events the world over where I could meet incredible people and create larger and larger circles of influence. I think maybe he heard and saw in my voice and actions, an artistic reflection of his own.  He would call me, sometimes, if he had seen me on television, just to say how wonderful he thought the performance was. He would attend my gala concerts and come on stage before the show to say flattering words of introduction. He invited me to the Presidential residence once for a private lunch, and encouraged me to consider a political career. And on my 25th career anniversary, he sent a beautiful video message where he said amazing words of praise, poetic and deep, about Gil Dor and myself and our musical journey:  an enormous compliment coming from so great a man. He would often say: Achinoam, you do not sing the song, you are the song.

Just one month before he passed away, we had our last meeting.  I presented a project to him for which I was hoping to gain his support. He was attentive, encouraging and curious, asked questions, suggested ideas, and  finally said : i'll think about it. Then he passed away, and left me ..and every one of us…with all the thinking to do on our own.

I attended his funeral. Rising at 5 in the morning to make it in time for the arranged transportation to Jerusalem, I thought to myself: I owe him this, and so much more, for the endless gifts and inspiration he gave me in the 20 years since I met him for the first time.
The funeral was attended by world leaders, dignitaries, representatives of 60 countries , colleagues, friends and family. It was impressive, one could even say, unprecedented.  President Obama, Prince Charles, the King of Spain, presidents of France past and present, and the list goes on and on. Mahmud Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority, was also there. He proved once again what a brave and open-minded leader he is, and despite all attempts to discredit him, a worthy partner for peace. 

I listened to the speeches. Rubi Rivlin, Amos Oz and Barak Obama where the ones I appreciated most…Obama most of all, beginning with his presence in the first place, and on to his beautiful and powerful message. Beyond all his words of wisdom, he was the only one to mention the presence of Mahmoud Abbas…as always, we need someone from the outside to point out what is so clearly and significantly before our eyes.  I shall miss that man…what a “mensch” he is.

And I shall miss Shimon Peres. I loved him, loved the idea of him, loved his dreams and aspirations, as they were, and remain, my own. I loved knowing he was there…and it seemed as if he always would be. Even in recent year, when i was often disappointed by what I perceived as his lack of involvement in stopping the deterioration of the moral fiber of Israeli Society, his lack of willingness to criticize what so clearly needed to be, and reluctance to be more assertive in declarations and actions regarding peace with the Palestinians, I always believed his intentions were good, looked upon him with very little judgement and much warmth and respect. In his later years he was showered with much affection , within Israel and beyond it's borders..the kind of unconditional love he had sought his entire life. I guess you can't blame a man for basking in acceptance and admiration, after a life time of struggles, opponents and harsh critics. Love is addictive. 

What  huge void he created in his passing. And who is to fill that void? looking at current Israeli leadership, can we locate anyone with even a fraction of his stature? 

I am sad that he is gone, but beyond the personal sense of loss, and maybe because of the national sense of loss, I feel empowered. I feel the weight of responsibility on my shoulders, more clearly than ever, for there is so much work to be done and we cannot afford to be disheartened or sluggish. Peres was never. His legacy is that of dreaming, believing and doing, undeterred. He left us with much unfinished business to attend to, and I for one, plan to attend to it. When we lost Rabin, I felt a sense of urgency, a burning desire to bear the torch that had fallen from his hands. I have borne it, and was borne, and born, by it.  Now, it feels more like moving from the galley to the wheel: steady as she goes, with the good winds of hope in her sails. 

Thank you Shimon.
May you rest in peace.

Noa, Oct 3, 2016





Shalom Shimon ...Parting from Shimon Peres

It took me a few days to digest the passing of Shimon Peres and what it means, to me personally and to Israel. Much has been written about this subject, about his enormous contribution to Israel’s security, future, stability and sustainability, as well his determination and devotion to the peace process with our neighbors, the Palestinians and the entire middle east.  He truly was a visionary, a man of enormous ambition, charisma and passion, an intellectual, a lover of life and the living and a believer in the power of the human spirit, an indefatigable optimist, and the epitome of a “wise man”. Of course as all humans are, he too was not without fault. Much too has been written about his moments of weakness, conflict and crisis, but all said and done, here was a man who dedicated his life to progress and peace…. A public servant for more than four decades in every influential position in Israeli leadership, a Nobel peace prize laureate. Peres was not Israel as it is, but Israel as it wished to be… as it could, and maybe, can be, if only….

I had the honor of spending many hours with Shimon Peres on various occasions. Personal and Public meetings, Conferences, Performances, private lunches, meetings in Israel and abroad, Peres gave me endless opportunities to lend my voice to the greater cause of Peace and co-existence. He invited me to participate in momentous events the world over where I could meet incredible people and create larger and larger circles of influence. I think maybe he heard and saw in my voice and actions, an artistic reflection of his own.  He would call me, sometimes, if he had seen me on television, just to say how wonderful he thought the performance was. He would attend my gala concerts and come on stage before the show to say flattering words of introduction. He invited me to the Presidential residence once for a private lunch, and encouraged me to consider a political career. And on my 25th career anniversary, he sent a beautiful video message where he said amazing words of praise, poetic and deep, about Gil Dor and myself and our musical journey:  an enormous compliment coming from so great a man. He would often say: Achinoam, you do not sing the song, you are the song.

Just one month before he passed away, we had our last meeting.  I presented a project to him for which I was hoping to gain his support. He was attentive, encouraging  and curious, asked questions, and  finally said : he’d think about it. Then he passed away, and left me ..and every one of us…with all the thinking to do on our own.

I attended his funeral. I was sorry not to have been invited to sing, but quickly overcame my hurt feelings and surrendered myself to the moment of parting. Rising at 5 in the morning to make it in time for the arranged transportation to Jerusalem, I thought to myself: I owe him this, and so much more, for the endless gifts and inspiration he gave me in the 20 years since I met him for the first time.
The funeral was attended by world leaders, dignitaries, representatives of 60 countries , colleagues, friends and family. It was impressive, one could even say, unprecedented.  President Obama, Prince Charles, the King of Spain, and the list goes on and on. Mahmud Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority, was also there. He proved once again what a brave and open-minded leader he is, and despite all attempts to discredit him, a worthy partner for peace. 

I listened to the speeches. Some were annoying, others moving, few inspiring. Rivlin, Oz and Obama where the ones I appreciated most…Obama most of all, beginning with his presence in the first place, and on to his beautiful and powerful message. Beyond all his words of wisdom, he was the only one to mention the presence of Mahmoud Abbas…as always, we need someone from the outside to point out what is so clearly and significantly before our eyes.  I shall miss that man…what a “mench” he is.

And I shall miss Shimon Peres. I loved him, loved the idea of him, loved his dreams and aspirations, as they were, and remain, my own. I loved knowing he was there…and it seemed as if he always would be. Even in recent year, when i was often disappointed by what I perceived as his lack of involvement in stopping the deterioration of the moral fiber of Israeli Society, his lack of willingness to criticize what so clearly needed to be, and reluctance to be more assertive in declarations and actions regarding peace with the Palestinians, I always believed his intentions were good, looked upon him with very little judgement and much warmth and respect.

What  huge void he created in his passing. And who is to fill that void? looking at current Israeli leadership, can we locate anyone with even a fraction of his stature? 

I am sad that he is gone, but beyond the personal sense of loss, and because of the national sense of loss, I feel empowered. I feel the weight of responsibility on my shoulders, more clearly than ever, for there is so much work to be done and we cannot afford to be disheartened or sluggish. Peres was never. His legacy is that of dreaming, believing and doing, undeterred. He left us with much unfinished business to attend to, and I for one, plan to attend to it. When we lost Rabin, I felt a sense of urgency, a burning desire to bear the torch that had fallen from his hands. I have borne it, and was borne, and born, by it.  Now, it feels more like moving from the galley to the wheel: steady as she goes, with the good winds of hope in her sails. 

Thank you Shimon.
May you rest in peace.

Noa, Oct 3, 2016





https://www.facebook.com/AchinoamNini/videos/1296549617022093/

Sunday, January 24, 2016

TED talk transcript ..."follow your heart"...a case for visceral navigation in the 21st century....

FOLLOW YOUR HEART
(talk starts with verse and chorus form the song “follow your heart”…..)
I was 16 years old when I decided to leave home alone and move from NY to Israel, for love.

I come from a Jewish Yemenite family, born in Israel but raised in the US from age 2.
When I was 15, I was on a summer hiking trip in Israel, when I met this amazing young man, and fell totally in love with him. From that moment, all I could think about was how to plan my return, how to convince my parents, how to be with him. This was crazy and totally devoid of logic. I was already really into music, and living in the most amazing city in the world for a potentially budding artist, I knew going back to Israel would mean mandatory military service, an identity crisis (I already had a pretty complex identity), a total meltdown of my comfort zone and yet, my heart wouldn’t let go of me. “Achinoam, Achinoam” it said, day and night. “You know this is what you’ve gotta do, so do it!”

And I did.

Achinoam, as my heart just told you, is the beautiful name my parents gave me.  It means, freely translated, sister of peace. But later in life, as I embarked on an international musical career, and understanding Achinoam was just too difficult for most people to pronounce, i took on the name “NOA”…three letters at the heart of Achinoam,  with roots in the Bible.

Noa was the first feminist in Jewish history, But for me, the name is more significant as an acronym: N-O-A : Not Only Achinom.

I understood, I guess, from a very young age that together works better. That giving up some of your ME to become a WE is glorious. My heart dances whenever I connect and resonate, and Asher…that man I fell in love with (which is sitting right here)….was just the beginning.

After my military service…I went to study at the Rimon School of music in Ramat Ha Sharon…
My idea was to form a band…I never wanted to be a Star Star in classic fashion, I wanted a team, a family! I wanted to be Sting in the Police. (btw years later I did a whole tour in France with sting! But that’s another story :) So I set out to find my mates. Then I walked into class on the first day, and there was this teacher, and he was talking, and I was mesmerized, by his wisdom, creativity, energy, passion, he was a total WOW. I mustered courage to ask him to listen to the songs I was writing at the time, fortunately he found my song writing worth encouraging and offered me a student teacher collaboration in a festival the school was taking part in. I was so thrilled!!

At the time I was already being wooed by all kinds of producers, managers, etc, that were offering to invest a lot of money in my career, pushing me to take the so called “fast  tkt” to stardom,  (I would later learn that no such thing exists) , to forget this collaboration with a musician 17 years my elder, to go for younger, hipper producers, forget my original songwriting, to do some remixed covers, take songs from professional pop song writers,  change my hair and the way I dress, pose for the camera, etc etc…

It seemed tempting, who doesn’t want to be a star?? But there was my heart, nagging…naaa. It said, this is not right Achinoam. I don’t care how successful a mundane pop song could be , I want to create something new!  I want to work with a person who can encourage creativity, nurture it, who can join me on this quest for depth and beauty, who is relentless and passionate and as much a perfectionist as I am, who believes in the ME WE idea, the team, the family…so I said no to all those guys with their big promises (my heart is going! Yeah! go girl)….and went with the teacher.

I got much more than I bargained for. A partner, a mentor,  an amazing musician, a  gold mine of music ,mind and spirit. I left school that year, but stayed in the school of life to this day, with this great man to my right: my musical collaborator and guitar master GIL DOR :)

Then things started moving really quickly. Gil introduced me to Pat Metheny, one of the world’s most amazing musicians, an incredible Jazz guitarist and composer, and one of my heroes! I met Pat in New York soon after, and left him a recording gil and I had made earlier that year .

He called me later that evening, and said one of the songs he heard on that disc was so beautiful he wished he had written it himself! I almost died. He asked: how can I help you? So I took a breath and said: produce an album for me.

And he did!

So Gil and I went to NY, Pat brought his incredible musicians, we started making the album, it was amazing.
After the recording, pat had to go on tour, so we had a few months before we mixed the album.
Gil and I came back to Israel, and started working on a project for the Israel Festival in Jerusalem, based on the beautiful poetry or Rachel and Leah Goldberg. It was a totally artistic project, so you can imagine our surprise when one of the songs became a huge hit!
A recurring theme with us, all of our “hits” were accidental…they just happened as we were busy following our hearts…

So we were performing in Israel, in bigger and bigger halls, and travelling across the Atlantic to finish the album with Pat, we got signed by Geffen Records, I was getting really popular and working really hard. And in the middle of all this…I got married!

 Yes yes, your head is saying: what? Why! All these guys falling at your feet, travelling, exciting places, be free! Why weigh yourself down??

But my heart was saying: naaa….that guy, the one from the hiking trip… he’s your man. He’s you partner for the marathon…unite!

And I did. 
And my heart was dancing….

And that’s when I started learning to juggle. A three ball juggle…music, matrimony, and ten years later, motherhood, once, twice three times..three children, three thousand concerts….three, is a magic number..:)

By the way, that’s another reason I never wanted to sing any song I didn’t love, or do anything I didn’t feel strongly about…how could I justify leaving my loved ones for fluff? For bogus? What for??

But for lighting my little flashlight into another hidden corner of the human soul, for creating something, for making the world a better place, for beholding a dance of hearts as music connects people on a higher level…ah! For that, I was willing to sacrifice…

And I did…

Carrying my kids around the world, nursing them on planes and trains, on many sleepless nights with the help of my incredible family and friends…
The juggling was intense. but it was about to get totally crazy….as several monumental events unfolded..

On the album NOA, that Pat produced, we had recorded an original version of the Bach- Gunod Ave Maria. I wrote original lyrics, an ecumenical, almost iconoclastic prayer for peace….and gil arranged it to sound almost like a folk song. this song fell into the hands of a man in Italy who was producing an event in the Vatican…so one day we got a call, inviting us to perform for an audience of 150,000 people in St Peter’s square, for Pope John Paul the 2. The first Israelis ever to do so. We were shocked, and thrilled! 
There were voices in Israel calling me to decline this invitation, Jews that were still angry at the church for what it had done to our people over the centuries…but my heart was saying, if this pope believes in breaking the walls between religions, in collaboration, in reaching out, who am I to say no? on the contrary, this is exactly where I want to be!

We were subsequently invited 8 times to perform at the Vatican for John Paul the second, and later, for Pope Benedict, and just recently, for the wonderful Pope Francis.
And my heart? Not only dancing, exploding! What an honor, to be able to contribute to a shift in consciousness through music, to an expansion of vision, to a broadening of perspective! How thrilling, how right it feels.

And so another ball was thrown into my juggling act, the fourth…..not only music , matrimony and motherhood,  but meaning…a mission….a message….much greater than myself.

and that was just the beginning.

The following year, we were invited to perform in another huge event….a peace rally being organize in Tel Aviv, to support Yitzchak Rabin and Shimon Peres, Nobel peace laureates, as  they signed the Oslo Accords…a new horizon for Israel and Palestine! What joy!

When the mayor of Tel Aviv called me to ask if I would sing, it took me three milliseconds to say YES! He was thrilled as it appeared he’d gotten quite a few “No”s already, which surprised me, but shouldn’t have.  I was later to learn; any political affiliation is almost Taboo for popular artists.  But I wasn’t thinking in those terms, I was so honored to be able to celebrate peace!

The event was the most wonderful and most horrible evenings of my life. What began as a joyous celebration of the future, ended in enormous tragedy when Yitchak Rabin was murdered by Yigal Amir, as he descended the very same staircase I myself had walked down just a few minutes earlier.

I was devastated.  that very night, I decided that if this great man could pay with his life for peace, for humanity, for values, for the future of our children, I too would pay a price….i would act, I would speak out, I would carry this torch forward stubbornly, fearlessly.

my heart , understanding the ramifications of this decision… bowed its head, and nodded in agreement.

After that,  one thing lead to another very quickly, all mixed, blurred… speaking out, refusing to perform in the occupied territories, supporting a two state solution,  threats to my life, concerts cancelled, performing  at the white house, speaking and singing at the World Economic Forum in Davos, becoming a Global Leader of Tomorrow, meeting and befriending Quincy Jones and performing in many of his events, in NY, Rome, Switzerland, being Knighted by the president of Italy, becoming good will ambassador for the UN….working with Nicola Piovanni and Robberto Benigni, collaborating with Arab artists , like Khaled, Nabil Salameh, Rim Banna and more, participating in demonstrations, writing blogs, refusing to receive prizes alongside racist artists, more hate mail and threats, boycotts, and all the time writing songs, putting my hands in the mud of the soul and flying high above it all like a bird, and back again….. touring, wonderful concert halls, long roads, children, juggling, juggling while running, on my knees, in my sleep, in my dreams…. praying to the God of music, and believing, with all my heart, that it all comes down to “love your brother as you love yourself…..”


In 2009 I was approached by the Israeli Eurovision committee to represent Israel in the Eurovision. I said Yes, but I had conditions: I wanted to share the spotlight with Mira Awad, a great Arab Israeli artist, and we would write the song ourselves, in English, Hebrew and Arabic.

And so it was. We were attacked from all sides, those who hate, those who are suspicious and afraid, those who do not believe, those who have given up.
But we also reached CNN, the NY Times, El Jazeera, BBC Iran and millions of young people around the world with an incredible message that they could relate to , that they believed in, and they gave us their support! Every one of the hundreds of letters I received at the time, from iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Israel, all over the world …every one brought tears to my eyes….they  are treasures I will pass on to my children….

Here’s part of the song as I wrote it originally in English:
(we perform part of “there must be another way”)

I’ve followed my heart.  It’s nagging, dancing and prodding me on has brought me to the most challenging and most spectacular places of my life. And I say to you, in a crazy world, changing so fast, mind boggling technology, communication, FOMO, pressure, uncertainty, and almost preternatural competitiveness…..though it seems crazy, it may not be such a bad idea….

To follow your heart.

because, in the worst case….you’re left with your heart!  (If you’ve done something meaningful for yourself and others,  you are a success! Yippee..
And in the best case.. you’re left with your heart. What’s all the success, glory, fame and fortune in the world worth without it??
And what is your heart anyway?
It’s more than a blood pumping organ on a valentine’s day card…
Here’s how I see it:

HEART
H- head, humanity, home, humility, hearing….
E- essence, ear, empathy, extension…
A -Art!
R- resonance, responsibility, the road….
T- two, togetherness, time….and tomorrow….

Dear friends, thank you for listening.
We’d like to leave you with a song.
(we perform UNI…)

The end :)









Tuesday, November 3, 2015

20 years to the murder of Yitzchak Rabin..a personal account

I was married on June 22nd, 1992. The following day, june 23rd, was my 23rd birthday. I loved the convergence of numbers, anniversaries of birth and re-birth ...that was the main reason for choosing that date, but there was also another one: June 23rd, 1992, was election day in Israel, which is traditionally a day off . We wanted people to stay up late and dance with us into the night without worrying about how they would get up in the morning…so, it seemed perfect!

The wedding was indeed a joyous affair, friends and family galore, and to top it off , the next day, we were treated to another wonderful gift: Yitzhak Rabin’ Labour Party gained the majority of the votes, enabling him to construct a coalition and become prime minister.

3 years passed. Asher and I moved to a tiny new apartment in Tel Aviv, nurtured it lovingly, and struggled to pay rent. Asher competed medical school, my career as a singer was gaining enormous momentum…and most importantly...Yitzchak Rabin was taking Israel courageously into a what promised to be an exciting, hope-filled new future. Rabin was making peace!

It started in 1987 with the Intifada, the revolt of Arabs living in Gaza and the west bank against the ongoing Israeli Occupation and its dire ramifications. The uprise included multiple forms of civil disobedience, stone and molotov bottle throwing and other aggression, and lead to hundreds of lost lives and many thousands of injuries, as the Israeli military retaliated. Rabin had initially made very firm statements against the intifada, instructing the military to “break their arms and legs..”….but then, he had a change of heart and mind. This enlightenment, this deep realization that without peace the cycle of blood would go on forever, this change of perspective that only a leader as courageous and honest as Rabin could initiate, gave birth to the Oslo Accords, which were signed  in 1993 and awarded Rabin, Peres, Clinton and Arafat with the Nobel Prize for Peace. Two States for two people, Israel alongside Palestine….who would have believed, finally it was going to happen! Nearly a 100 years of violent conflict were poised to reach their end, long overdue!

The days were  highly charged…there was enormous tension in the air. The majority of Israelis believed in the peace process wholeheartedly and could hardly contain their excitement and anticipation as it slowly came to fruition. Investments started flowing into Israel,  bus loads of tourists came to behold the miracle in the desert, world leaders visited,  praising and blessing the fledgling accords..it was a time full of wonder and replete with hope…everything was possible!

But not all of Israel’s citizens shared this enthusiasm: quite the opposite. Rabin’s political rivals on the right were seething. The messianic rabbis and their followers, the settlers and their extreme religious-nationalist leadership, and an array of others who found the idea of a Palestinian state between abhorrent and sacrilegious, went on a horrible crusade against Rabin. The incitement was appalling. Rabin was called a traitor; he was cursed, harassed and threatened. At the pinnacle of this criminal incitement against him, during a demonstration in Jerusalem , Rabin  was pictured in a Nazi SS soldier’s uniform, and the angry, violent mob yelled: Death to Rabin ! At that same demonstration, political leaders from the right stood on the terrace, in the fashion of dukes and princes of the middle  ages, and smiled approvingly as the mob erupted with hatred, like burning lava.

One of the politicians on the terrace  with a big smile spread across his face, was Binyamin Netanyahu.

Flash back to the land of hope. The city of Tel Aviv decided to organize a huge rally in support of the Oslo Accords. Shlomo Lahat, Tel Aviv’s legendary mayor, contacted me through my management, asking if I would agree to perform at the rally. I was a rising star at the time, already very popular and filling large halls. I was honored to have been approached and immediately agreed. He asked if I was willing to have my name on the billboards advertising the rally, I was quick to say: of course! Anything that will help bring the crowds and support peace!

I remember driving through Tel Aviv on the days prior to the rally, seeing those billboards, and wondering: where are all the big names that should have been there? Where are all the stars?
None were written on the announcement. (small red light should have gone off in my head, but..i was, as so many were then…in a state of euphoria…)

The night of the rally was magnificent, hundreds of thousand showed up, waving flags and banners, supporting Rabin and Peres vociferously, sending waves of good energy their way. It was a spectacular sight to see. Gil Dor, Zohar Fresco and myself   performed three songs and felt a surge of energy and excitement over come us…we were thrilled!!

We stayed after our show, listening to some other performers and to some of the speeches, and just as Rabin joined Miri Aloni to sing “song for peace”, in his raspy voice, endearingly and completely out of tune ,  we decided to leave the square and get a head start home, preceding the crowds who would spill into the surrounding streets and clog them.

We walked down the stairs, to where our car was parked.
The very same stairs, that a few moments later Rabin was to descend, on his way to a horrible death, shot three times in the back by the murderer Yigal Amir: Israel’s first political assassination and one that was to change her history forever.

I remember where I was when I found out….

I had decided to go to my grandmother’s apartment in the south of Tel Aviv, to give her a hug before I drove home. As I walked into her apartment, in the old Yemenite neighborhood near the Carmel market, I saw her staring at the TV screen, tears running down her face.
“They killed him! They murdered him ! those bastards! ” she kept repeating again and again at the top of her voice.

I was shocked, I couldn’t breathe.

Millions  mourned him, vigils were set up at the square, lighting candles, singing softly. I sang at all the memorials, barely able to extract a clear voice from a throat choked with tears. Droves of people ascended the mountains to Jerusalem, to pass by his grave and pay him last respect…numerous monuments and edifices were named after him, including the square where he was murdered, and a glorious building erected in his memory, dedicated to educating for tolerance and democracy.…

But not all mourned, not all throats choked with tears. In the shadows, there was much rejoicing, thanking of the Lord for the removal of the Satan Rabin, and self-satisfied chuckling and rubbing of hands…

Palestinian extremists, realizing their hopes of independence had been shot three times in the back by Yigal Amir and buried along with Rabin, resorted to terror and suicide bus bombings .Israel was blasted back in time to the middle ages, and the political, nationalist, messianic right, swords swinging, war songs emerging from their cracked throats, rose into power and embarked on the first and longest Jewish crusade in history…that has brought us to this day….

…20 years later.

The man on the terrace had fulfilled the Biblical prophecy: “did you murder, then inherit?”

After 20 years of intermittent rule Netanyahu, with a little help from his friends, has almost single handed, destroyed Israel, trampling our hopes for peace under the stiff boot of messianic nationalism run amok. He has transformed Yitzchak Rabin’s dream of a peaceful, prosperous, democratic Israeli society living aside an independent, free Palestine,  into a paranoid, racist, messianic, extremist, xenophobic, violent, arrogant, ignorant, ethnocentric nightmare.

He has continued using his well-honed tactic of incitement to instill fear and self-righteousness into the hearts of the masses, securing his recurrent re-elections and ensuing privileges as he preys on these most base emotions.  He has fed the monster of religious extremism to his own political gain, given Israeli citizens a personal example of conniving, tale-spinning, slippery conduct, coupled with a clear penchant for the good life at the expense of the common working man and woman’s hard earned tax money….such stark and tragic contrast to Yitzchak Rabin’s modesty and reticence.

Netanyahu, who stood on the terrace and smiled as the blood thirsty crowd roared, has become the “Big Dictator” in the Chaplin film: full of himself and paranoid at the same time, driven by a warped, dangerous vision of Israel’s future, seeped in dishonesty, contradiction and feeble leadership, committing generations, with his actions and reactions, to an eternity of  bloodshed .

Some believe Netanyahu will eventually bring peace, that he is still able to change heart and mind, as Rabin did. I once wanted to believe so...but i am no longer able to fool myself.  Netanyahu has betrayed this nation. He has put his considerable talents of oration, political savvy and purported intelligence, in service of self-glorification and religious , nationalist extremism, at the expense of every single principle upon which Israel was founded to begin with. I fail to see how this man can ever emerge from the dark pit he has thrown himself, and all of us, into. maybe i am wrong, but i believe the solution will come from somewhere, and someone, else. 

 As for me, since 1995 I have been speaking out. I have been fighting that battle that Rabin lost, that Rabin gave his life for. I too have been giving…not my life (yet..), but much of my well-being and comfort, my popularity and personal gain. I have given all of these things lovingly, for the sake of future generations, for the sake of what is left of the soul of this once-beautiful place. I do this by singing for peace, volunteering, speaking out, writing, and supporting the endless organizations that do the thankless, diligent job of building bridges every possible way, making sure their voices are heard!

 There is a ray of light that keeps stubbornly seeping into the darkness of my heart, lighting up that patch on the ground where grass insists on growing even in the shadows, where a song is born despite the numbing silence : The place of hope. That voice keeps telling me: Things will change, the pendulum will swing, focus on the good people, focus on the positive action, be patient and selfless as you build, educate, communicate, believe in the power of change. Focus on all that’s right, keep your chin up, and keep going.


20 years have passed since Yitzchak Rabin’s murder, and 23 since the day of our marriage. Asher and I  have three beautiful children now….it is for them that I write these words, for them to know and remember, for them to carry in their hearts like a beacon, long after I am gone. 

Thursday, March 19, 2015

post election thoughts


Yesterday was a black day for me, I was depressed and devastated after months of hard work and hope that this time we would finally rid ourselves of Netanyahu. And to think that his horrible racist statements in the last days were those that gave him the victory!  It killed me. 

 

Today I woke up and tried to think straight.

 

Here are my thoughts:

 

 Netanyahu has declared there will be no Palestinian state.
Without it, I don't see how we can acheive peace. If Netanyahu continues with his hard line policies , we run the risk of losing all our allies, including of course the US which the “bibi king” has already publically humiliated. There is also no doubt that the BDS (boycott Israel movment) will gain more and more momentum and supporters, and justifiably so. Abu Mazen will most likely go to Hague and to the UN, I assume he will succeed in gaining wide support for his initiatives, and this will isolate Israel more and more. As i like to say to my children, (usually regarding McDonalds), it's "shit de la shit".

Where do I see the positive side?

1.    Now it is clear where Israel's government formally stands, there is no way to masquerade anymore.

2.     Though Abu Mazen's international appeals to recognize Palestine may bother the Israeli government , they are in my opinion positive moves on his part that now stand much more of a chance of gaining wide international support, as well as support from the Israeli opposition, political and civil. 

3.    In these elections there were an enormous momentum of young people and old all working to change the government, there was a 72 % turnout at the polls, and much good energy that I believe will not be lost; it will be channeled to important grass roots work that will come to fruition when the time is right. Plus, I believe people will be less apprehensive about raising their voice in public and taking a stand, what was hardly present at all until now. i especially hope the artistic community will be more vocal and “get off the fence”. 
 
4.    There were many new and exciting coalitions created between Arab and Jewish citizens in Israel, that I believe will get stronger and stronger as we all unite against Netanyahu and his right wing policies.

 5.    Now that things are so bad, hopefully the international community will wake up and put more pressure on Israel to change its policies, this includes the Obama administration, which has been handling Israel with white gloves. I believe that attitude is harmful to Israel and to the region. America should be more assertive in making sure Israel enters into dialogue with the Palestinians and the moderates in the region immediately, with the goal of reaching an agreement in a limited time frame. Already this morning Obama said the US would recognize Palestinian claims on 1967  lines. The president also condemned Netanyahu’s shameful, cheap and racist election-day statements. Obama is a good man but has been too weak in regard to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Mr. President, you have two years, stop playing nice! We need you!!

 6.    Netanyahu is known to be an artist of deception. He has said many terrible and unforgivable things. But since he is so inconsistent, and such an opportunist, he may change his mind again now that he is in power and go in a positive direction . it’s not probable, but it’s not impossible. 

7.                                                              We, citizens of Israel, Jewish and Arab, who have a  different vision for our country than that of Netanyahu and his right wing allies, will have to unite and work harder and harder to save the soul of our country and the lives of our children.

8.                                                               I for one have no intention of giving up.

 

 

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

my prayer...

Shma Yisrael, Adonai eloheynu.
Adonai.
God.
Dear God,
Here i am , Achinoam, the little girl who went to Yeshiva in Riverdale and prayed fervently three times a day, who raised her voice in the song of songs, who raises her voice to this day to glorify the beauty of the human spirit and spread  "love your brother as you love yourslef",the best line you ever wrote, far and wide.
Please, God, i can't rememebr when i have felt such an urgent need to pray to you. God, elections in my beloved country are coming soon...i beg you to send wisdom and comassion to the hearts of our citizens, that they vote to RID our country of the destructive, arroganat, racist government of Benjamin Netanyahu and his cohorts.
Please, God, send them home! Send Bennet back to high tech where he can invent a new brand of cyber facism, send Lieberman to Putin, I'm sure there's a job opening for him there, send the settlers to the Negev where we could use their fervent enegy in building the desert economy and where they could volunteer to help bedouins,foreign workers and refugees, and most importantly, send Netanyahu and Sara to LA or wherever where they can live happily ever after off the millions Bibi will make as key note speaker in Sheldon Adelson's events, and stop insuting the intelligence of the entire world (oh, the speech in Congress! Got in Himmel!!) as they destroy everything that was ever good in my country.
Anything, God, but please don't let them gain power again! Our country is in such grave danger, my children's lives are in danger, our souls are in danger, the fundamental principles of Judaism we treasure are being prostituted, fear and hatred is being dripped like venom into the veins of our society, we are becoming monsters!
Please rid us of these evil men and women, who for the sake of power and fanatic mania are willing to bleed us all to death. It is they, not Iran, who pose the greatest threat to our future!
Help our citizens to elect an enlightened, responsible, compassionate and courageous leadership, dedicated to the well being of ALL our citizens, Arabs and Jews alike, dedicated to equal opportunites for ALL our children, and above all, Commited to PEACE. Leaders who have read the Israeli declaration of independence, who are wiling to stand behind the words of wisdom written there, who are willing to sacrifice personal pleasures for the greater good, leaders who are clean of hand and heart.
I beg you Lord.
 Amen.