Israel to Fund Achinoam Nini’s Show in Canada After JNF Pulls Out Over BDS Claims

JNF Canada withdrew support due to Israeli singer’s left-wing views. 'Israel sees great importance in having Jewish communities around the world mark and celebrate the State of Israel’s Independence Day,' Foreign Ministry says.

Israeli singer Noa (aka Achinoam Nini), in 2007.
David Bachar

The Israeli Embassy in Canada and the Israeli Consulate in Toronto will fund the Israeli Independence Day celebrations in Vancouver at which singer Achinoam Nini is expected to appear. The events will also have the support of 50 Jewish community organizations, the Jewish Federation of Greater Vancouver announced on Tuesday.

Earlier this week, the Jewish National Fund of Canada withdrew its financial support for the events, which will take place on May 11, because of reports that Nini supports the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement against Israel. Nini, who is also known as Noa, denied the claims, saying that the BDS movement actually boycotts her concerts.

Josh Cooper, CEO of JNF Canada, the Canadian affiliate of the Jewish National Fund, told the Canadian Jewish News that his group would not co-sponsor the Federation event this year because “The entertainer that has been hired does not reflect nor correspond to the mandate and values of the Jewish National Fund of Canada.” The decision was made in response to protests from Canadian Jewish activists angered by Nini’s left-wing public statements.

The Foreign Ministry said Wednesday that “Israel sees great importance in having Jewish communities around the world mark and celebrate the State of Israel’s Independence Day. As the official representatives of the State of Israel, the embassy and consulate work constantly to promote the unity of the Jewish people and the Canadian Jewish community’s ties with the State of Israel.”

On its website, the Vancouver federation said, “We would like to thank all of the community members who provided feedback on our choice of performer, both positive and negative. Our community members hold varied and passionate opinions about Israel and our Jewish community. We respect that diversity, which is one of the strengths of our community. Whatever one’s perspective may be, we are all motivated by our love for Israel.”

Nini has been criticized by the right for, among other things, participating in an alternative Independence Day ceremony alongside bereaved Arab families, her claims that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu does not want peace, her comments during Operation Protective Edge and most recently, her resignation last month from the Israel Artists Association to protest the group’s giving a lifetime achievement award to singer-songwriter Ariel Zilber, who is open about his right-wing views.

In July 2014 it was reported in Italy that the local WIZO women’s organization had canceled a planned performance by Nini in Milan. Local media reported that the organization had sent a letter to Nini’s manager, saying the appearance was being cancelled because of her political statements. The group’s president, Silvana Esther Israel, said however that the cancellation was for financial reasons and was not a boycott of Nini.