Ariel Zilber at ACUM awards ceremony
Ariel Zilber at ACUM awards ceremony Flash 90

Well-known Israeli singer and composer Ariel Zilber received on Monday evening a prize from ACUM (Union of Composers, Writers and Publishers in Israeli Music) for his contribution to Israeli music.

Zilber was originally supposed to have received a lifetime achievement award, but ACUM changed its mind at the last moment and chose to change the award under pressure from Dalia Rabin, daughter of murdered Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin who is a member of ACUM’s board of directors, and who is opposed to Zilber because of his rightwing political stance.

The saga surrounding Zilber’s award started last week, when leftist singer Achinoam Nini announced she would not accept a prize from ACUM so long as Zilber was being honored as well.

As he got up on stage to accept his prize, Zilber said that ACUM should be shut down and a new union be established that respects anyone, regardless of their political opinion.

"I thank the members of ACUM who wanted to give me a lifetime achievement award,” he said. “I am the son of singer Bracha Tzfira, who was one of the founders of modern Israeli music, I come from this country and I am grateful for it every day. The gaps are not easy for me. I express myself through music and it’s not easy for me. Let's stay connected to one another, with the values ​​of love thy neighbor. The feeling is that I have become the punching bag of interest groups and frustrated artists who are constantly trying to make up my extremism.”

Zilber continued, "If it were up to me, I would shut down ACUM today and establish a new ACUM which says there is room for anyone, regardless of his opinions, and ACUM today does not fulfill its destination. I'm Jewish, I’m Israeli, I’m one of you. Thank you G-d, thank you my dear wife.”

Earlier Monday, Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman criticized ACUM’s decision to change Zilber’s prize, writing on his Facebook page, "The capitulation of ACUM and the decision to give Ariel Zilber a prize only on his contribution to Israeli music instead of a lifetime achievement award is a dangerous submission and flattery of the Bolshevism of radical leftists."

Economy Minister Naftali Bennett also criticized ACUM, saying, “We were informed today that ACUM intends to prevent Ariel Zilber from winning a lifetime achievement award because of his political views. And it joins the same thought police which prevented Nobel Laureate Prof. Yisrael Aumann from receiving an honorary doctorate from the University of Haifa.”

“ACUM’s decision goes against all cultural and creative values, and I suggest that they change it now. I say to the University of Haifa and to ACUM - the shame is on you. It’s an honor not to be honored by you,” added Bennett.