February 23, 2020

I don’t know how we got here… but I’d sure like to move on!

I don’t know how we got here… but I’d sure like to move on!

Multiple Choice – Please Choose ONE! Achinoam Nini, better known as Noa:

____ Represents the Palestinian people, and is not a true Israeli.

____ Is a supporter of right wing Israeli settlement politics.

____ Represented Israel in the Eurovision Contest along with Israeli Arab Mira Awad and is a passionate peace activist.

____ Is a traitor to the State of Israel and a self-hating Jewess.

All of these statements have been used to describe Noa, but only one is accurate. Noa is one of Israel’s leading international singer/songwriters.  She could also be the poster child for everything that is wrong with the current political and social landscape.

Silencing the voice of those who disagree with you is antithetical to Jewish values and undermines the very foundation of Israeli and American democracy.

Her concerts have been cancelled due to protests by the BDS Movement and she’s been called a traitor by the Israeli group Im Tirtzu for her outspoken views on Palestinian rights. Since announcing her concert at the Pico Union Project, we have received phone calls and emails attacking Noa as an “Israel hater” and “fascist pig” while demanding that we cancel her concert. It’s one thing to disagree with someone’s politics, it's another to suggest they are not entitled to share them.  Silencing the voice of those who dare to speak out is antithetical to Jewish values and undermines the very foundation of Israeli and American democracy.

Our work at the Pico Union Project empowers us to give voice to a cross-section of the community, it has also made us the target of ugly hate speech. We have seen an unraveling of common decency and common sense, and while I don’t know how we got here, I’d sure like to move on! I’m sick of the fear mongering and intimidation.

There is a cost for freedom, as rights come with obligation and responsibilities.  In this age of materialism and me-ism it’s easy to expect our rights and sluff off our responsibilities.  We cannot go back, but in order to move forward we must do so with respect.
• To never take our freedom of speech or civil rights for granted.
• To listen before we speak.
• To be tolerant of other viewpoints while vigorously defending our own.
• To refrain from judging others, especially before owning up to our own faults.
• To never expect or demand uniformity.  It’s not healthy or smart.
• To never, ever take ourselves and certainly not our opinions too seriously.

It’s a long road – Lo Aleicha Hamlacha Ligmor – it’s not up to us to finish the work – but we are not free to give up.

PS. Noa really is an extraordinary artist, we'd love to see you at the concert.   www.picounionproject.org/noa

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