The sick Kabbalat Shabbat ceremony for the glorification of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, held in New York last week during his visit to the United Nations, included extraordinarily ingratiating speeches by Communications Minister Ayoub Kara and Culture and Sport Minister Miri Regev. The real coup was having as guest of honor none other than singer-actress Shiri Maimon, who has been feasted in local media for her starring role in the Broadway musical, “Chicago.”
The Israeli media – nationalistic, patriotic, populist and provincial – has for a long time been selling a story to the Jewish people in Israel – starved as they are for international prestige, owing to their self-proclaimed standing as the Chosen People. The story is that Shiri Maimon is the star who “conquered Broadway.”
Like Gal Gadot took Hollywood, Shiri Maimon took New York. The terminology is important. In the spirit of the contemporary extremist nationalism, the Jews in Israel are aspiring to reconstruct their past fame and glory: To rebuild the Temple, to conquer territories that will make the country the size of the kingdom of David and Solomon. And just as territory is conquered by the Jewish army, the battlefields of global cultural power are being conquered, by commandos in their own right: female Jewish stars.
After all, Jews in Israel feel they are exalted, God’s chosen. And from this comes the excitement of seeing goyim applauding “our” stars, who represent “us” there, and bring “us” honor. As such a star, Maimon served as the new court singer in the Kabbalat Shabbat ceremony, the official representative of the Netanyahu government on Broadway.
She sang “Jerusalem of Gold” with yearning and longing. Her intention was most likely directed at some sort of heavenly Jerusalem, a transcendent place, rather than the real city, poor and neglected as it is – and certainly not at a hellish neighborhood like Shoafat (a Palestinian refugee camp in East Jerusalem), where the mountain air is not clear as wine but stinks like an open sewer.
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Sara Netanyahu hugged her warmly. Maimon is an artist who is loyal to her nation. Proud to be identified with apartheid, anti-democratic legislation, occupation, winds of fascism and corrupt government behavior.
So, it is a good thing that one media outlet – Reshet’s Channel 13 show Hatzaneret – pricked her balloon. It turns out that Maimon did not “conquer Broadway” and did not even receive the starring role of Roxie Hart in the musical “Chicago.” All she was selected to do was to appear for about two weeks, as a public relations gimmick to draw the local Jewish and Israeli audience in advance of the musical’s arrival in Israel in March.
The signs outside the theater do not bear her image either. Stars from Japan and Mexico did the same thing before her. As opposed to Gadot (and Sasson Gabai, who is now really a star on Broadway and who, to our great joy, was absent from Netanyahu’s ceremony), Maimon was not chosen for a main role because of her talents or out of artistic considerations, but pure and simple as a promotional gimmick.
This important detail, which Hatzaneret justifiably called “the small print,” was sometimes buried in all the talk about her. Instead the emphasis was on promoting the collective megalomaniacal illusion about the court singer, faithful to the Netanyahu regime, who conquered Broadway and who represents the Jews in New York and brings them (“us”) honor.
Maimon’s “conquering Broadway” is just another piece of characteristic fake news for the propaganda machine of the Netanyahu government and the press that serves it.