The legendary singer and actress has agreed to entertain the audience at the annual conference to be held at the Marriott Marquis Hotel with her vocal prowess, not only in Hebrew, but also in her native Persian. And she’ll be joining luminaries like Tourism Minister Uzi Landau, New York Consul-General Ido Aharoni and Israel’s Ambassador to the UN Ron Prosor on an afternoon socio-economics panel moderated by the Post’s Editor-in-Chief Steve Linde.
“I’m going to be bringing my agenda with me,” Rita told The Jerusalem Post this week. “I was a big supporter of the social justice movement when it began in Israel in 2011, and I went out and sang for the tent protesters. I think that, as a result, we see the beginning of improvements in our society, but there’s so much that still needs to be done to ensure the weaker segments of our population don’t stay weak.”
The other main item on Rita’s agenda is bringing a musical message of conciliation to the Arab world via her groundbreaking 2012 project, the album All My Joys, which revived Persian songs from her youth and became an underground hit in Iran.
“It was really a personal project for me, and sometimes you just have no idea when something inside you directs you to a place where there may not be any logic involved but it comes instead from the heart,” said Rita, whose last name is Jahanforuz. Her family emigrated from Tehran to Tel Aviv in 1970.
“The places it took me – both from an artistic viewpoint and from understanding how much I can use my music for good – has been one of the highlights of my life. To reach people that can’t be reached in any other way – not with force, not through politics – but through the heart and through emotion was amazing for me.”
One place the Persian music brought Rita was to the UN, where she was invited to perform last March by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon in a concert to “bring individuals – and nations – closer together,” as Ban said in his pre-show speech. And it did, as delegations from more than 40 countries gyrated on the dance floor to Rita’s Persian and Hebrew sounds.“I’m pretty sure the Iranian delegation was there, I just didn't know who they were,” said Rita. “I have to thank Ron Prosor who had the courage and was the dreamer who thought of bringing me to the US as a gesture of goodwill from the Israeli delegation. It was a courageous thing to do in our cynical world.
“I think we need to show to other people that even though walls are dividing countries, there doesn't have to be walls between people. That’s what I wanted to express to the Iranian people.”
The audience at The Jerusalem Post Conference next month will see that played out via a first-hand musical demonstration by Israel’s premier diva.Buy tickets for the Jerusalem Post Conference here.