What is interesting about this snippet from Breitbart News is that singer Ema Shah, who shocked people in 2010 by singing Hava Nagila, speaks for many Arabs when she says that she doesn't care about the Israel- Palestine conflict. Her latest film role, as a girl who discovers her grandfather was a Jew expelled from western Saudi Arabia, may be pure fantasy, but betrays Arab guilt - or a generalised sense of loss. (with thanks: Mi)
Ema Shah is a superstar in Kuwait and the Arab world. Known for her
singing and her musical style, which blends pop and classical
influences, she is also a pioneer for women in the region, choosing to
dress as she wishes--not just on stage but in everyday life as well.
Lately, Shah--is trying to break a political taboo by reaching out to
Jewish musicians--defying cultural hostility to Israel, hoping she can
help cultivate peace.
The 34-year-old Shah's interest in Hebrew dates to 2010, when she caused an international controversy
by singing the familiar Jewish folk song, "Hava Nagila," at a nightclub
as part of a performance involving multiple languages.
The audience loved it, she told Breitbart News in an interview last
week, but a few people were shocked, and alerted police. One woman
shouted: "No normalization with Israel, this is Zionism," Shah recalls.
The incident only made Shah--winner of
Best Music Video at the New York Winter Film Awards in 2014--more
determined to reach out to Israeli--and Jewish--singers and musicians,
in the Middle East and the United States. She hopes that by doing so,
she can break through the barriers of mistrust in the region, and undo
hateful attitudes in the Muslim world in particular.
"We Arabs should work together with Jews," she says. "We are family, and we are all human beings. We should love each other."
Shah's own ancestry crisscrosses the somewhat artificial boundaries
of the Arab and Muslim world. Her parents are Iranian and Kuwaiti, with
some ancestry in Afghanistan and Iraq. She burst onto the music scene
with her performance at a Kuwaiti independence concert in 1996, and
began exploring theater as well, acting in a local arts festival for
several years under Kuwaiti director Abdulaziz Alhaddad.
Shah is currently working with Saudi director Mohammed Al Saber, who
is seeking a producer for a new film he is directing about the Jews of
the Arabian peninsula. The story follows the discovery by a young woman,
to be played by Shah, who discovers that her grandfather, who lived and
worked as a beekeeper in the Sarawat Mountains in western Saudi Arabia,
was actually a Jew whose family emigrated from the country in the
mid-20th century, as many Jews fled or were expelled from Arab lands at
the time. The film's message, Shah says, is about the shared cultural
kinship of Jews and Arabs, and the tragedy of how Jews were expelled
from Saudi Arabia.
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The Jewish cemetery in Saudi Arabia