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Tuesday, March 26, 2013 

More on the embarrassment that took place at Sounds of the Old City festival

Some more news on the attempts to remove women singers from the Sounds of the Old City music festival in the Jewish Quarter that requires scrutiny:
“The producers of the festival accidentally put the show in a very religious part of the city and they didn’t notice that there was a female member of the group – me,” said [Liat] Zion.

“So, shortly before we finished our first half-hour set on opening night, one of the producers came on the stage and asked me to leave.”

According to Zion, despite numerous news reports that she was forcibly removed from the stage following an uproar by haredi audience members, her exit was peaceful and entirely her decision.

“I was not forced off the stage, I chose to get off,” she said. “So many news organizations tried to make this into an ugly story, but you know what the amazing part of this is? I think some good came of it, and I hope you will focus on this message: We are all brothers and sisters, and if something is difficult, or doesn’t feel right for one of my religious brothers, I don’t want to push his buttons or provoke him. We are all entitled to different points of view.”

Zion said that after the group exited the stage to enter the festival’s artists’ room, they were greeted by an apologetic production manager, whose name she did not disclose.

“He politely approached us and apologized very deeply for the mistake,” she said, adding that the production company paid her for the agreed-upon sum of the contract and included cab-fare to take her to her home in Herzliya.

“I have no anger about what happened,” Zion said. “It was a misunderstanding.”
No, it's all the stupidity of "cultural sensitivity" as exercised by Ms. Zion. This statement, unfortunately, does nothing to excuse the fact that some disgraceful hoodlums threatened to disrupt what was meant to be a joyous celebration through music, both male and female. Does she realize that she's legitimizing anti-female bigotry, to say nothing of the notion that a woman's voice is "filthy"? What those Haredis who threatened violence did was wrong, sets a poor example and Zion is not helping by acting as though they must be appeased or their views accepted.

And how can it be an "accident" to set up shop in the Jewish Quarter? I suppose if they did it in the Muslim Quarter, that too would be an accident? All they're doing is legitimizing Haredi efforts to take over the neighborhood as "their own". A real disappointment that Zion is succumbed to political correctness. I'm glad the other musical band stood strong. One of the lady singers was offended:
The mayor insisted that women's exclusion from Jerusalem's public sphere will not reoccur, but the women who were asked not to perform are not comforted by the gesture.

"We play and sing in an ensemble with men. As far as I know, the Halacha doesn’t forbid that, but we were specifically asked not to go on stage," said Noa Segal, a drummer with the Marsh Dondurma ensemble, which was asked by the festival's management to replace the female musician with a male one.

The incident occurred in the Old City's Jewish Quarter, and according to the Jerusalem Development Authority, "a managerial error" was behind the choice to have the gender-mixed ensemble in the religiously sensitive area. Many women took part in the festival in other parts of the city, the authority stressed.

Nevertheless, Segal was deeply offended: "Three years ago, we were asked the same thing and it was only the mayor's interfering that put a stop to it. I would very much like to respect the locals but I can't respect those who don’t respect me.

"This festival is funded by public taxes; it took place in the Old City's Jewish Quarter – where residents and tourists come for cultural events. This didn’t happen at the Mea Shearim neighborhood. I find it very unfortunate that the city doesn’t put a stop to this and essentially cooperates with these things. [...]

As for reports that the microphone of the manager of the Marsh Dondurma ensemble was turned off just when he was telling the audience about the gendered tribulations his group was forced to undergo, Bachar said that though he was informed that the microphone was indeed turned off, he was not sure about the reason.

"A possible reason," Bachar stated, "is that the police asked to turn the microphone off due to complaints of noise; it was very late. I would never allow anyone to turn off a microphone for an artist speaking."
Why do I get the feeling he's just going on damage control mode? And here's something to consider: what if even the Armenian Quarter were home to Haredis like the ones who made threats of chaos? It makes no difference where in the Old City, women's singing is not a crime, and should not be forbidden anywhere. Mayor Nir Barkat said:
In a posting on his Facebook page, Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat, was not as magnanimous about Zion’s removal as the artist herself was.

“This incident that occurred as part of the festival in the Jewish Quarter where one woman was not allowed to sing is a malfunction of the artistic director, which we only heard of after the fact,” posted Barkat. “The decision was not up to me and not acceptable to me and I will make sure that it does not happen again. The exclusion of women in any form is not acceptable to me and I will continue to work against it.”
What I want to know is why the managers didn't call the police as they should have. Anyone who makes threats to cause a ruckus is asking for serious trouble and should be ejected from the event.

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