Noa & Mira — confusing the categories

(Update, after making this post, I’ve been alerted that there’s another side to Noa lately that rather undermines her reputation. I’ll post a separate entry above.)
There’s something ironic, yet hopeful in Israel’s entry to the 2009 Eurovision music competition, to be broadcast from Moscow in May. (Think “American idol” — only bigger.) Though not geographically part of Europe, Israel participates as a member of the European Broadcasting Union.
Israel’s entrants this year, “Noa and Mira” (Achinoam Nini and Mira Awad), are “Israeli” singers confusing the categories and getting sniped at from multiple sides inside Israel.
For background, see this recent Ethan Bronner NYT dispatch, which explains how a popular Israeli singer of Yemeni extraction linked forces with a green-eyed Israeli Christian Arab. They’re feeling a bit orphaned by their own country, condemned by many for their criticisms of settlements, Hamas, and the use of violence. Their January selection to participate in Eurovision was criticized even by the “left”:

[C]oinciding as it did with Israel’s Gaza war and the rise of Avigdor Lieberman, the ultranationalist politician who threatens Israeli Arabs with a loyalty oath, the committee’s choice was labeled by many on the left and in the Arab community as an effort to prettify an ugly situation…
A petition went around demanding that the duo withdraw, saying they were giving the false impression of coexistence in Israel and trying to shield the nation from the criticism it deserved.

Conundrum indeed. How does one be a voice for peace, without being “used” by hasbaristas who would abstractly proclaim peace while still building settlements, strangling Gaza, erecting walls, etc? Curious, I scrounged around youtube to learn about this intriguing duo.
Here’s a 2007 interview with Noa & Mira, keyed to their popular rendition of the Beattles classic, “We can work it out.” (Here’s a lively version of the song performed in Paris last year at the “peace of the heart” confab for Israel.)
In the abstract, I rather like Noa’s apparent philosophy. In the interview above, she wrestles with the Christian concept of turning the other cheek, and how it runs hard into the ongoing “exploding & release” of pent up frustrations and hurts. Yet Noa insists that the parties must “apologize, recognize & share.” If only. Mira is a bit more coy, saying that “everyone knows the solution,” even as she professes that she doesn’t know much of politics.
Undaunted by their critics, Noa & Mira on March 2nd performed four tunes before Israeli viewers and judges. In the end, Israel selected this song to be its entry for the Eurovision semifinals: There must be another way.
And when I cry, I cry for both of us
My pain has no name
And when I cry, I cry
To the merciless sky and say
There must be another way
(Full Lyrics here and in extension.)
May we yet find it.
*********************************


There must be another
Must be another way
Your eyes, sister
Say all that my heart desires
So far, we’ve gone
A long way, a very difficult way, hand in hand
And the tears fall, pour in vain
A pain with no name
We wait
Only for the next day to come
There must be another way
There must be another way
Your eyes say
A day will come and all fear will disappear
In your eyes a determination
That there is a possibility
To carry on the way
As long as it may take
For there is no single address for sorrow
I call out to the plains
To the stubborn heavens
There must be another way
There must be another way
There must be another
Must be another way
We will go a long way
A very difficult way
Together to the light
Your eyes say
All fear will disappear
And when I cry, I cry for both of us
My pain has no name
And when I cry, I cry
To the merciless sky and say
There must be another way
And the tears fall, pour in vain
A pain with no name
We wait
Only for the day to come
There must be another way
There must be another way
There must be another
Must be another way

2 thoughts on “Noa & Mira — confusing the categories

  1. Richard

    It might be worth reading a statement put out by Noa at the time of the Gaza Hanukkah Massacre, which contains this:
    “But, now, today, I know that deep in your hearts YOU WISH for the demise of this beast called Hamas who has terrorized and murdered you, who has turned Gaza into a trash heap of poverty, disease and misery. Who in the name of “allah” has sacrificed you on the bloody alter of pride and greed.
    My brothers, I cry for you. I cry for us too, yes, I cry for my fellow countrymen suffering the bombs in the south and north and everywhere, I cry for the kidnapped soldiers and the murdered ones, for their bereft families, for the innocence lost forever, but I cry especially painfully for you for I know your suffering, I feel you, I feel you!!
    I can only wish for you that Israel will do the job we all know needs to be done, and finally RID YOU of this cancer, this virus, this monster called fanaticism, today, called Hamas. And that these killers will find what little compassion may still exist in their hearts and STOP using you and your children as human shields for their cowardice and crimes.”
    Ynet Published: 01.08.09, 02:32
    http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3651784,00.html

  2. scott h.

    Wow, thank you Richard for catching this one. I see this is one post where I need to back up and revise…. More to follow. Really sad.

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