JNF Canada Pulls Out of Event Featuring Israeli Singer Achinoam Nini Over BDS Allegations

Achinoam Nini denies that she supports boycott, as Federation stands by its choice of performer at its Israel Independence Day celebration in Vancouver.

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

The Jewish National Fund of Canada has withdrawn its support for an event in Vancouver featuring Israeli singer Achinoam Nini over the claim that the singer, who also goes by the name Noa, supports the Boycott, Sanctions and Divestment Movement against Israel, the Canadian Jewish News reported Friday.

Responding to the controversy, the singer denied that she supports the BDS movement, which she said boycotts her own concerts.

Danny Atar, the chairman of Israel-based Keren Kayemeth, which was founded in 1901 to acquire land in pre-state Israel on behalf of the Jewish people and to reforest and develop it, made it clear that the decision to withdraw sponsorship of the Vancouver event was taken by JNF Fund (Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael) in Canada alone, adding that he himself is against the Canadian affiliate's withdrawal of funding for it over Nini's views. "I intend to express my opinion on the decision directly to the leadership of JNF Canada at a meeting with we will be having shortly in Israel."

Nini's appearance is scheduled at an event sponsored by the Jewish Federation of Greater Vancouver to be held this spring to mark Israel Independence Day. Earlier this month, the Federation issued its own denial that the Israeli singer supports the BDS movement and condemned a report in the Jerusalem Post suggesting that, due to her political views, Vancouver Jews are outraged by the choice of Nini for the event.

As of Saturday, an online petition urging that Nini's performance in Vancouver be scrapped had attracted nearly 300 signatures, but the Jerusalem Post report on opposition to the concert is no longer online. The Jerusalem Post later apologized and issued a clarification saying that it didn't intend to suggest Nini supports the BDS movement.

"We take these concerns very seriously, and we have done our due diligence by looking closely into the facts," a Federation statement quoted in the Canadian Jewish News said. According to the Canadian Jewish News, the Federation disclosed a statement from Nini's manager that said in part: "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."

But Josh Cooper, the CEO of JNF Canada, the Canadian affiliate of the Jewish National Fund, told the Canadian Jewish News his group would not co-sponsor the Federation even this year, as it has in the past "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.”

Last June, the JNF in the United States co-sponsored a concert with the local Jewish federation in Cincinnati featuring Nini and Israeli-Arab singer Mira Awad, the CJN reported, but Cooper of JNF Canada noted that each national JNF organization is independent.