Friday, May 15, 2009

Israel's Noa and Mira Awad compete in Eurovision Song Contest tomorrow

In America, we don't tend to track the 53 year old Eurovision Song Contest very closely. Across the pond, though, it's a big deal. Starting in 1954 with 23 local European broadcasters supporting the show, this year the Eurovision finals will be broadcast via satellite around the world. Specifically, tomorrow's finals will be broadcast from this years competition location in Moscow. After two semi-final rounds Israel's entry, Noa & Mira Awad, are ranked #2. Here's an early performance....

Noa & Mira Awad - There Must Be Another Way (Israel)

As one can imagine, there has been no shortage of controversy around Israel's entry. I've seen plenty of folks celebrating the Israeli Jewish and Palestinian partnership and song as representing the best spirit of the peace efforts. I've seen (a smaller number of) other folks calling this a hypocritical political propaganda move by Israel to present a positive face to the world while committing abuses at home. I even saw one comment on twitter this morning describing "There Must Be Another Way" as "a lesbian love song. With cleavage." Go figure.

Clearly, Noa and Mira subscribe to the positive view of the situation. To hear what they have to say, here's an excerpt from an interview they to the Spanish paper La Razon, reproduced in the isRealli blog.

"Mira and I are very proud to be the first Arab-Jewish Israeli duo to go to Eurovision. We are also proud that upon our demand, the internal laws were changed and Arabic was allowed to be sung as a formal language representing Israel in the ESC. Our duo sheds light on the complexity of our situation here in the Middle East. Israel has a very large minority, almost 20 percent, of Palestinians, Christian (like Mira) and Muslim, who are Israeli citizens. This sector is still fighting for full integration into Israeli society. This is separate from the Palestinians living in the occupied territories, who are fighting for their independence and the establishment of the state of Palestine. In addition, Israel is surrounded by Arab countries most of which do not recognize her right to exist. So you can see, the situation is complicated. Mira and I do not represent [Israel] to present reality, but what our nations can STRIVE for if we choose dialogue over violence. Our friendship is a symbol of how we CAN get along, based on respect and communication.

Art and music cannot solve the world’s problems, but we can help. And we MUST help. We must do our part in the GLOBAL effort for peace and reconciliation that must include EVERY human being and every organization, each playing his part."

Hat tip to most of the blogsphere and twittiverse.

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