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Culture 12/09/2017 12h05

Tanjazz : Controversy erupts over the participation of an Israeli singer

Tanjazz, the annual international festival organized in Tangier is inviting this year, Noam Vazana, an Israeli artist who is a reserve soldier for the Israeli air force. Noam’s upcoming performance has created controversy among some Moroccans who see her participation at Tanjazz as a normalization of relations with the Israel.

Noam Vazana./Ph. Youtube Screenshot

The 18th edition of the long-awaited music festival, Tanjazz, is scheduled to make a return from the 14th to the 17th of September in Tangier. However, this year Tanjazz is being surrounded by controversy. The program of this year’s edition as displayed by the official website of the festival includes an Israeli Jazz singer called Noam Vazana. According to the planning, the singer who served in the Israeli army is supposed to perform on the 15th of September alongside a Dutch-Moroccan artist named Teema. 

The organizers of the international festival, held annually in Tangier, have introduced Noam as an advocate of co-existence. Noam and Teema who met in Amsterdam will sing together to prove that music can bring people easily together despite the existing conflicts. «Listening to these women sing, you instantly connect to the beauty and joy of these ancient languages and become aware of how simple and beautiful it all is when people come together», state the organizers of Tanjazz.

However, inviting Noam Vazana to the festival has not been well perceived by several people. Contacted by Yabiladi, Sion Assidon a Moroccan activist of Jewish background and member of the Boycott, pestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, denounced the participation of the Israeli singer in Tanjazz. He stated that «Noam has declared in an interview that she is proud of being a reserve soldier in the Israeli air force», adding that «she will always remain a backup soldier» for Israel. «We all know what the Israeli army has done in Palestine and Lebanon, killing civilians and young men», Adison said with a sigh. 

Denouncing Noam's participation

The Moroccan branch of the BDS, which is part of the global campaign attempting to increase economic and political pressure on Israel to end what is described as violations of international law, has called the Moroccan Head of the Government, the Minister of Culture and the head of the Tangier-Tetouan-Al Hoceima region to cancel the performance of the Israeli singer.  

«Tangier is a city of multiculturalism and co-existence, not a city of apartheid, not a city of racism… Historically-speaking, the leaders of the Maghreb national movements used to met in Tangier, and we do not want this woman to tarnish this memory», Assidon concluded.

Other parties have reacted to the controversial performance of Noam Vazana, one of them is Iman Benaala, an activist, who urged the civil society, students and political figures in Tangier to act together «to cancel this concert and put an end to what appears as cultural normalization with the Zionist entity», Al Arabiya reports.

Tanjazz is inviting this year a number of foreign and international artists who are supposed to entertain Jazz lovers in Tangier and in Morocco in general for four days.

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