Controversial Singer Ariel Zilber to Receive Lifetime Achievement Award

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Ariel Zilber, a one-time bad boy of Israeli pop music who in this century found far-right-wing Orthodox Judaism, will receive a life achievement award from the Association of Composers, Authors and Publishers of Music in Israel. Zilber, 70, who now appears on stage in a long white beard and large kippa, was honored by ACUM for his "bold originality and innovativeness in expressing artistic truth," Channel 2 reported.

In the 70s and 80s, Zilber was one of Israel's most distinctive, exuberant singers, hopping about the stage on a wooden leg, the result of a gun accident when he was a teenager. He formed the influential group Tammuz with Shalom Hanoch, and later headed the group Brosh. His songs "Rutzi, Shmulik Koreh Lach" ("Run, Shmulik Is Calling You"), "Ani Shochev Li Al Hagav" ("Lying on My Back"), "Ten Li Koach" ("Give Me Strength"), "Milliard Sinim" ("A Million Chinese") and others were known for their strange and funny lyrics, Zilber's raw, uninhibited voice and his primitive piano accompaniment.

Around 2000 he began shifting sharply to the right, endorsing Avigdor Lieberman's program to transfer Arabs out of Israel. In 2005 he moved to Gaza's Gush Katif in solidarity with the settlers about to be evacuated. In 2010 he signed a letter urging landlords not to rent to Arabs. His latest album, "Ha'atalef Vehatarnigol" ("The Bat and the Rooster") included four Hasidic melodies composed by Rabbi Yitzhak Ginsburgh, who has written in praise of Baruch Goldstein's 1994 massacre of 29 Palestinians.

ACUM's life achievement award will also be given to composer Yossi Gamzu.

Ariel Zilber during a recent performance in Jerusalem. His new CD, below, is not political. It's very religious, but it's not political. Or almost political.Credit: Emil Salman

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