Sunday, August 8, 2010

A Star is born: Will an African American convert become the next "Israeli Idol"?

Barry Rubin writes:

"Among the scores of ridiculous things said, thought, and written about the Arab-Israeli conflict, the pretense that it has something to do with "race" ranks high among them.

As the waitress whose family had come from Ethiopia put the pizza on the table at the Tel Aviv restaurant, I contemplated the ridiculous misuse of "race" as a factor in the Arab-Israeli conflict. Regardless of skin color, we belong not only to the same country by way of citizenship but also to the same nation and people in a very profound way that isn't true for countries that are merely geographical entities. "

The conflict in the middle east has never been about "race", though the green/red alliance locally attempts to paint it as a conflict between brown and white; between "colonialist" and "indigenous".

34-year-old African-American Nikia Brown’s story, one of thousands,yet one of a kind, makes this clear.

Nikia Brown is a 34 year old African American woman, from Kansas City, Missouri. Nikia and her family converted to Judaism three years ago. “We were searching for something, and we ended up going to synagogue services once,” said Brown. “Then the more we learned about Judaism, the more we fell in love with it. It comes from someplace deep in our hearts." Nikia, her husband and their daughter visited Israel and fell in love with the land and people, and decided to make aliyah.

Brown spoke limited Hebrew when she decided try out for the Kochav Nolad ("A Star is Born),the Israeli "American Idol". The judges, including Dana International and Pablo Rosenberg, loved her voice. She is now one the 18 finalists in the eighth season of the singing competition series.

Its lovely to see how the Israeli community has rallied around Nikia and her family. Yoel and Orly Ganor, the directors of Ulpan Or have volunteered their services to for Nikia, to help her master the nuances of hebrew that she will need to win the competition. We all wish her the best of luck. Yascher Koach, Nikia!

Read more here

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