'Zilber's lifetime achievement cannot be denied'

Member of IUPA award committee slams leftist singer Achinoam Nini for quitting org. after nationalist song legend wins the prize.

Ido Ben-Porat ,

Ariel Zilber
Ariel Zilber
Flash 90

Singer and actress Dafna Armoni, a member of the Israeli Union of Performing Artists (IUPA) lifetime achievement award committee, criticized leftist singer Achinoam Nini on Sunday after she quit the IUPA in a call to boycott singer and composer Ariel Zilber.

Zilber, a legendary Israeli singer, was picked by the IUPA last week for its lifetime achievement award, but Nini responded by quitting the organization in protest of his right-wing political opinions.

"In a period washed in racism, violence and hatred, the Israeli Union of Performing Artists chose to grant a lifetime achievement prize to a man who used his great talents to advance an identical agenda: violence, racism and hatred," claimed Nini in an attempt to delegitimize Zilber.

Armoni responded on Sunday, condemning Nini for her actions and telling Army Radio that "everyone has the right to express their opinion. At the same time, I don't agree with Nini's declaration, but it's her right to think that way."

"Zilber's selection was not for that reason. The decision to give the prize was made because you cannot boycott someone because of their opinions. We didn't relate to the opinions of anyone," added the committee member.

"It's like how Yehonatan Gefen and Nurit Hirsh were selected - not everyone can be parve," she added, referencing a term for neither dairy nor meat food according to Jewish dietary laws, which is used in slang to reference mildness - in this case politically speaking.

Armoni noted that "people have opinions. It isn't that he sings about these things. He did an extraordinary life's work. His songs are inalienable assets. The prize must be given only for the artistic lifetime achievement that a person leaves. That cannot be taken from him."

The recent exchange between Nini and Zilber echoes a similar episode back in early 2014, when Zilber was to win a lifetime achievement prize from ACUM (Union of Composers, Writers and Publishers in Israeli Music), but Nini announced that she would not accept a prize from ACUM so long as Zilber was being honored as well. 

At the last moment ACUM changed Zilber's award from a lifetime achievement award to a "contribution to music" prize, under pressure from Dalia Rabin, the daughter of assassinated Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and a member of ACUM's board of directors.