Q&A: Noa, the Woman From Hope

The Israeli pop star talks about the reality of relations with Palestinians.

When Noa, one of Israel's biggest pop stars, brings her Palestinian friend, Mira Awad, to the Paramount Theater on Thursday, the pair will sing in English, Hebrew, and Arabic—but they won't bring any of the religious fervor that has divided their homelands.

"Religion is fanning the flames of this whole thing," says Noa. "Can you name one horrible conflict in the world that is not religious-based?"

Instead, Noa (known in Israel as Achinoam Nini) hopes the tour will help contribute to Americans' awareness of the situation and to why it's important for them to tune in. "There are many conflicts going on in the world which, in the kind of world we're living in today, are all connected and interlocked, and everything affects everybody. This conflict should be significant for Americans." (More of our conversation can be found on Reverb, our music blog.)

SW: What don't Americans get about the Israeli/Palestinian conflict?

Noa: Most newspapers will not ever report on the organizations working for peace in Israel and Palestine. There are so many groups that are doing incredible work for bringing people together, for promoting tolerance and dialogue, and trying to disintegrate the fear that is so strong-rooted in some of these peoples' hearts. What you do know is every rock thrown and every drop of blood shed. There's sort of like a spiral of hopelessness that comes as a result of that, and it's a shame, because it's not the way it is really here.

You were born in Tel Aviv but raised in New York City, and then returned to Israel when you were 17. Why did you return?

I fell in love with a man, whom I'm actually married to now. I met him at a summer vacation in Israel. I was just 15 at the time. A few years later, I decided to return to Israel.

Did you know that you were going to have to serve in the military when you went back?

I was in a state of denial for a year. I had a good job. I was singing in the military entertainment unit. I would have preferred to do other things with those two years between 18 and 20. It would be great if it weren't like that. I don't want to send my kids to the Army, but if there's no choice and I am living in this country, then I'll do it. It's like paying taxes. It's part of being a citizen here.

How was your outlook different when you came out of the Army?

Well, I decided to do everything I can to work for peace.

Do many international artists tour in Israel?

The bigger ones. Nick Cave is hugely popular in Israel. People love him in Israel. He's great, but I think he's more popular in Israel, proportionally, than any other place in the world.

ckornelis@seattleweekly.com

 
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