by Kodoom.com - Persian Information Hub
Despite much political tension between Iran and Israel, one woman is hoping her gift of song will make "a little scratch in the wall between us." As reported in the Huffington Post, when Israel';s top diva Rita released an album entirely in the language of her country';s arch-enemy Iran, naturally more than a few eyebrows were raised. The album, "My Joys," sung in Farsi, has been a great success in Israel and seems to also have generated a following in the underground music circuit in Iran at a time when tensions are high between the two countries.
Despite such tensions, Rita says she only has warm memories of the people and places she left behind. To Rita, the album is less a political statement and more a return to her own roots. Rita Jahan-Foruz was born in Tehran nearly 50 years ago and considers her current album - sung in Farsi - to be a life-long dream. "I was born to an amazing culture," she told The Associated Press. "Most of the world, they didn';t know that from this culture came so many things." Unlike many high-profile Israeli artists, Rita is notoriously apolitical. But she said this specific album could make a difference, serving as a bridge between the people of her home country and her homeland.
Before immigrating to Israel in 1970 at the age of eight, Rita grew up listening to her Mother’s Persian melodies. Rita hopes to return to sing in her homeland and believes her “sound” is one way to break through the barriers between nations. She is in good company with some other Iranian born Israelis, such as Hanna Jahanforooz and Menashe Amir, known as the voice of Israel in Iran. According to The Telegraph’s 2009 report, outside of Israel, Iran is the home for the largest population of Jews, about 25,000, in the Middle East. Furthermore, according to an NPR report, 250,000 people of Persian descent reside in Israel, including prominent Israelis such as former President of Israel Moshe Katsav, Miss Israel 2005 Sima Bakhar, and Israeli Minister of Transport Shaul Mofaz. The United States has the second largest population of Iranian Jews world-wide, somewhere between 60,000-80,000.
Rita';s new album was an instant success and went gold in Israel within three weeks. Rita is such an Israeli icon that she was chosen to sing the national anthem in 1998 at the country';s main jubilee celebration, answering a personal plea from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Ten years later, as the country marked its 60th anniversary, she was chosen as Israel';s top female singer ever. It looks like her love of peace and Iranian culture has not harmed her popularity in Israel any way.