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Thank You, Sarah Idan and Nick Cave! (November 2017)

Rabbi Mike

Over the past few days I ran across two encouraging stories of individuals who challenged the way many people try to isolate and marginalize the State of Israel.

The first story involves Sarah Idan, who is Miss Iraq. While participating in the Miss Universe International Beauty Pageant, she posed for a photo with Adar Gandelsman, Miss Israel. They both posted the photo on their Instagram accounts, “in an unusual display of coexistence emanating from a divided Middle East.”

Idan took a lot of heat and criticism for posing with her Israeli counterpart. Some on Arab social media raged against her decision to be photographed with an Israeli, and the comments on her Instagram post were filled with curses at her for ostensibly hurting the Palestinian cause. “You dishonor all of our people that died under their occupation. You Zionist shill,” one commentator on Instagram said.

In response to some of the criticisms, Idan stated that the photo “does not signal support for the government of Israel and does not mean I agree or accept its policies in the Arab homeland.” She went on to apologize “to all those who consider [the picture] harmful to the Palestinian cause.”

She added that she hoped there would be peace between Jews and Muslims and that neither side would have to send their children to the military. Idan did not delete the photo from her Instagram account.

Idan’s defense of the photo stands in stark contrast to the reaction of Miss Lebanon, Sally Greige, who, in 2015, was captured in a photo with three other beauty contestants, one of whom was Miss Israel, Doron Matalon. Greige claimed that she had purposely avoided any pictures with Matalon, but that Matalon jumped into the group, took a selfie with them, and posted it on social media. Greige faced similar criticism in Lebanon as Idan, as it is illegal for Lebanese citizens to have contact with the Jewish state.

Nick Cave is the subject of the second story. Cave is a rock star who recently performed in Israel, returning after 20 years since his last appearance. In describing why he was again performing in Israel, Cave offered two reasons: “One is I love Israel and I love Israeli people. And two is to make a principled stand against anyone who tries to censor or silence musicians. So really you could say that the BDS made me play Israel.”

“BDS” refers to the “Boycott, divestment and sanctions movement” against the Jewish state, which includes efforts to keep performers from around the world from going to Israel. Cave added that his appearance was in defiance of people like Roger Waters, former Pink Floyd member, who support a cultural boycott of Israel. Waters has notoriously tried to publicly shame performers from going to Israel. Cave confessed that for a long time he gave in to such pressure, but that he had had enough. “So after a lot of thought, a lot of consideration, I rang up my people and said we’re doing a European tour and Israel. Because it suddenly became very important to make a stand, against those people that are trying to shut down musicians, to bully musicians, to censor musicians, and to silence musicians.”

So, thank you Sarah Idan, for taking that picture with your Israeli friend, and Nick Cave, for no longer caving in to the likes of Roger Waters, following your conscience, and going back to Israel to share your music. Kol HaKavod to both of you—well done!

Sun, July 5 2020 13 Tammuz 5780