Israeli Daily Attacks Singer for Defining Herself as Palestinian

Newspaper article criticizes Lina Makhul for allegedly refusing to perform on Independence Day 'because it's the Palestinian Holocaust Remembrance Day'

Lina Makhul.
Lina Makhul/Facebook

A popular Israeli daily has come under fire for an article criticizing American-Palestinian singer Lina Makhul, who is an Israeli citizen, for identifying as a Palestinian and not as a Zionist.  The article, published Friday, also alleged that Makhul said Israel's Independence Day is like Holocaust Remembrance Day for Palestinians – a statement that Makhul denied uttering.

The Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper article said that Makhul refused to cooperate with an Israeli organization because it had a Star of David in its logo.

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"Only a year ago, after she won 'The Voice,' Lina Mahkul spoke in interviews about her life and presented herself as someone who successfully navigates between Arab-ness and Israeli-ness and feels comfortable in Israeli society," read the article.

"Now, statements obtained by Yedioth Ahronoth point to problematic behavior on the part of the Arab singer who was born in the U.S. and grew up in Acre. According to the statements, Makhul refuses to perform on Independence Day, defines herself not infrequently as a Palestinian with an Israeli passport and recently canceled participation in a song recorded for the organization Israeli Flying Aid because its logo is a Star of David symbol."

Makhul, who won the second season of the Israeli version of TV singing competition "The Voice," had become well-known in Israel and describes herself on her official website as an American-Palestinian.

Lina Makhul performs 'Les Feuilles mortes' on 'The Voice.'The Voice Israel

In an interview published by a magazine owned by Yedioth Ahronoth a year ago, Makhul said: "I am a native of the United States, I am an Israeli citizen and I am Palestinian. It's very clear. These are facts; it's not something I can choose." Asked about her Palestinian identify, she said: "When I am asked what my ethnic origin is, I say my great-grandmother is Palestinian. They lived here their wholes lives and so did their children and my parents as well. So it's like nothing changed here except for the country's name."

Following the article's publication, Makhul took to her Facebook page to say that "it's not just that these allegations are serious and untrue, they are also so unfair." She attached a picture of herself wearing a Magen David Adom rescue service uniform, which includes a Star of David in its logo. "Look at the picture," she wrote.

"This is me at 15 volunteering in MDA uniform, the same uniform I wore every day for five years, and on which a Star of David is displayer, remember? The Star of David they claimed I refused to appear with in a video because I am 'an enemy of Israel.' I volunteered to perform in, among other places, in synagogues, for non-profits, [and] social organizations. All I wanted was to use the gift I was given to connect everyone without the goal of publicity."

Journalists from other publications took to social media to criticize the article. Chen Lieberman, Channel 10 News' culture editor, wrote on Twitter: "And again, Yedioth has gone more Regev than [Culture Minister Miri] Regev. As part of the 'investigation,' this article uses statements from a personal conversation between Lina Makhul and her family in which she made problematic political statements, according to the newspaper's definition. Every Arab singer will now know that she must not express her political beliefs not only in public, but also in private forums in case Yedioth reporters hear and tattle."

Nir Becher, who for several years edited Yedioth Ahronoth's weekend supplement, tweeted: "The McCarthyism escalates."

Journalist Hadas Bashan wrote: "Peak Zionism: If they perform on Independence Day, we'll wrap them in a bear hug and boast about how good it is to be Arabs here; if they don't perform on Independence Day, they're traitors.  [I could] throw up from the condescension."

A response from the newspaper's editor-in-chief had not been received at the time of this article's publication.