A Canadian Zionist organization withdrew participation in an upcoming Israel Independence Day event featuring an entertainer who promotes left-wing NGOs critical of the IDF.
The Jewish National Fund (JNF) of Canada cancelled this year’s co-sponsorship of the annual Yom Ha’Atzmaut (Israeli Independence Day) performance in Vancouver in protest against the choice of entertainment: left-wing Israeli singer Achinoam Nini.
Josh Cooper, JNF Canada’s CEO, said in a statement that the decision to withdraw from the event, hosted by the Jewish Federation of Greater Vancouver, was “due to the views of the entertainment booked for this year’s celebration. The entertainer that has been hired does not reflect nor correspond to the mandate and values of the Jewish National Fund of Canada,” the Canadian Jewish News (CJN) reported.
Nini, widely known as Noa, supports B’Tselem and Breaking the Silence, two NGOs that defame the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) in the international arena.
Breaking the Silence was established by IDF veterans whose stated mission mission is to “break the silence” of IDF soldiers who return to civilian life in Israel and “discover the gap between the reality which they encountered in the [occupied] territories, and the silence which they encounter at home.”
Several hundred IDF combat reservists and officers who organized a committee called “Reservists at the Front” have been working to file a slander lawsuit against Breaking the Silence, which publishes and promotes testimonies, often anonymous, about alleged IDF misdeeds. The reservists claim that Breaking the Silence intentionally and consistently disseminates outright lies.
B’Tselem, according to its website, “endeavors to document and educate the Israeli public and policymakers about human rights violations in the Occupied Territories, combat the phenomenon of denial prevalent among the Israeli public, and help create a human rights culture in Israel.” Among many critics is NGO Monitor, which stated that “B’Tselem’s claims regarding international law are marked by major omissions and distortions.”
B’Tselem and Breaking the Silence are supported largely by European donors. Indeed, it was recently revealed that the latter also gets large donations from an organization operating within the Palestinian Authority.
As the CJN reported, Noa’s upcoming Vancouver appearance is drawing some strong reaction, including a new online petition titled “Stop Achinoam Nini from performing at our Yom Ha’Atzmaut celebration.”
A section from the petition reads: ‘Members of the Jewish community living overseas may not be aware of the extent to which we are hurt from the news of the likes of Achinoam Nini, a controversial political activist who uses her performances to promote her ideas, which most Israelis consider hostile and offensive to them, being invited to entertain our diaspora brethren on our national holiday, Israel’s day of Independence… My colleagues and I would gladly assist, if you consider inviting IDF soldiers, officers, who fought and were injured in operation Protective Edge – soldiers from where you can learn the real truth about the kind of enemy and its enablers Israel is facing.”
According to the petition, “Achinoam Nini is known for the provocations she incites; she is an extremist who supports radical left organizations that attack, slander, lie and cause ongoing harm to the IDF and to IDF soldiers who guard and protect our citizens and our homeland… We are disheartened at your decision to invite such a person, especially on the day of Independence of the State of Israel.”
While Noa denies accusations that she supports Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel, a blog that she authored on her personal page raises the question.
“Netanyahu has declared there will be no Palestinian state… 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 [sic] humiliated. There is also no doubt that the BDS (boycott Israel movment [sic]) will gain more and more momentum and supporters, and justifiably so,” she wrote.
Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas (aka Abu Mazen) continues to incite terror against Israeli soldiers and civilians, and he refuses to enter direct negotiations with Israel, choosing instead to make unilateral moves at the UN in an attempt to force Palestinian statehood and weaken the Jewish state. Noa wrote, however, that “though Abu Mazen’s international appeals to recognize Palestine may bother the Israeli government, they are in my opinion positive moves on his part.”
The Vancouver federation has not changed its stand or reneged on the invitation. “We take these concerns very seriously, and we have done our due diligence by looking closely into the facts. To the best of our knowledge, reports suggesting Ms. Nini promotes BDS are incorrect,” the Vancouver federation said in a statement, the CJN reported.
“We contacted Ms. Nini’s manager directly to clarify her position,” the statement continued. “He provided the following statement: ‘Noa is opposed to BDS. To say that she is a BDS supporter is an outright lie. She has never supported BDS – on the contrary – she has done all she can to bring many top artists to Israel and has done so with great success. Noa has a strong love for the State of Israel. She has served in the army, and her husband is an army officer.’”