Arab/Jew Duet & Two Trips Blog Post Get Mixed Reactions

noa__mira_awad.jpgThis week, as I waded around in the muck generated by my Two Trips to the Kingdom post on the UAE community blog, two women (one Arab, one Jew), were doing something that was much more impactful to promote peace.

Ahinoam Nini and Mira Awad were preparing to sing a duet together in tonight’s Eurovision Song Contest.

According to a recent story published by Agence France Presse (AFP):
Israel's entry for the annual pilgrimage of kitsch and glitz that is the Eurovision song contest has a serious message this year -- an Arab and a Jew singing together for peace in a troubled homeland.

Ahinoam Nini, a Jew of Yemeni origin, and Mira Awad, a Christian Arab from the Galilee, hope the strains of their song "There Must Be Another Way" will echo far beyond the Moscow arena hosting the contest from May 12 to 16.

"I refuse to believe the only way is violence and extremism and hopelessness and despair," Nini, known outside Israel by her monicker Noa, told AFP.
Makes sense to me.

Duet Gets Mixed Reactions

Nini and Awad’s song, There Must Be Another Way, reflects that belief.

“It's about the urgent need to find a different path for our nations, a path towards life and prosperity,” says Awad. “There is a line in the song that says: When I cry, I cry for both of us, my pain has no name, having empathy towards each other, and recognising each others' pain and fears is the first step we have to take towards reconciliation in our region.”

Awad and Nini’s decision to sing together sparked mixed reactions from compatriots on both sides of the fence.

“The reactions were varied,” says Awad. “There was the predicted opposition in the extreme right wing in Israel, people who don't agree to have an Arab and an Arab-loving-Jew (as they called Noa) as their representatives.

“But also there was opposition from the Left wing, who was enraged with the Gaza war, and called for me to step down from representing the country that has declared that war on my fellow Palestinians.

“On the other hand, there is also huge support from all sides to our message, which we deliver as two individuals who still believe in the necessity for dialogue and reconciliation.

My KSA Video Generates Some Threats

My blog post generated similarly mixed feelings, and resulted in flurry of comments on the UAE community blog.

Some were sad:
“How dare this woman insult the beautiful culture of this region!

If she wants equality and justice she should go back to where she came from.

We don't want so called "modernists" in our country, we like our medieval way of living, and if she doesn't like it, well, like i already said, she can go back home!”
Some were vicious:
“what an insulting post from an ignorant sensationalist woman.”
Some were threatening:
Glad to know you are in Dubai, I shall be looking for you. And trust me, if you think Dubai is 'easy' and you can get away with bad mouthing their brother then you had better think again. No abaya necessary here, but they are watching you. TWAT.
Some voiced support:
God ! LOL. You ATE the woman alive !!! I don't see any insult in what she said. she was like women in middle east haven't got their rights.. yes, that's true, we are deprived form most of our rights.we live in a male dominated society. yes. Men make the rules,yes, men decide,, men are prefered...etc.
One was the epitome of balanced reason:
I think Susan's sincerity is quite obvious here. Yes there are things in all Muslim countries that need fixing. There is no point putting our heads in the sand and pretending all is fine and dandy. At the same time I understand the commenters who feel threatened and defensive about their culture and country and religion; there has been so much criticism, especially from the Western world, that we feel very sensitive about the fingers pointed at us.

There are women who feel constrained by the life in Saudi Arabia, and others who feel protected and secure within it. There will always be people who feel both ways. Susan was expressing her opinion, which she should have a right to do, without being personally threatened or insulted. Those who disagree with her also have a right to do so, but let us show our Islamic "adab" or manners and courtesy within the discussion! (I am a Muslima, though I do not live in an Arab country).
Two young Saudi National men currently living in the USA, saw the video on YouTube and commented positively. When I sent them links to the UAE community blog, they responded quickly and affirmatively. One said:
Thanks for the email, Susan. I read your post and some of the hate comments you received by my fellow citizens. I felt ashamed of such comments; therefore on behalf of them, please accept our sincere apologies.

I honestly don't understand why they attacked you like that. You haven't insulted anybody in your post or in your later comments. In fact, you were rather polite...
You can see the other response here.

I was reminded by this blogging debacle that you can’t please all of the people all of the time. Some people will love you, others will hate you, regardless of what you do. It was a good lesson to relearn.

I’m looking forward to watching Nini and Awad perform on the Eurovision song contest tonight. Music can be such a force for good in the world, and also a great focal point for sharing stories and experiences with friends.

Awad says she is “thrilled and proud… to be singing side by side with one of my dearest friends, a song about our yearning for peace and dialogue.”

I too yearn for peace and dialogue. Maybe next week…. :)

Click here to hear Noa and Mira’s singing There Must Be Another Way.

Related links:
Noa and Mira speak to
Noa & Mira’s Facebook page
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Saudi Judge Says It's Ok to Slap Wife
Saudi Beauty Pageant Measures Morality
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