'Angels' of mercy help Northerners

Pop star Liel Kotel successfully recruited several celebrity friends to appear at Tel Aviv fundraiser, where organizers hope to collect $1m. for residents of northern Israel.

Liel Kotel 88 298 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Liel Kotel 88 298
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Teen pop star Liel Kotel successfully recruited several celebrity friends to appear at tonight's Tel Aviv fundraiser, where organizers hope to collect $1 million for residents of northern Israel. Over the last few weeks, it's been said many times that one of Israel's greatest strengths is the underlying solidarity of its citizens. Since the current crisis began, local restaurants have given discounts to displaced residents of northern Israel, grocery stores have distributed emergency food baskets and countless private home owners have provided shelter for those with nowhere else to go. But beyond these individual acts of kindness have been only limited efforts at soliciting large scale private philanthropy for those affected by the country's ongoing fight against Hizbullah. That will change tonight, however, as Liel Kotel, an internationally-known singer from Kibbutz Kinneret, headlines a fundraising event in support of residents of northern Israel at Tel Aviv's Hangar 11. The event, dubbed "Send Me an Angel" by organizers, begins at 8:30 p.m. and was the brainchild of a group of Israeli and foreign artists, philanthropists and business people who wish to remain anonymous. Philanthropists and members of the business community are being asked to participate by purchasing tables for $10,000. They'll be joined at the event by five of their own guests and five soldiers and displaced residents of the North. Fundraisers say they hope to sell at least 100 tables to meet their goal of raising a minimum of $1 million in aid. All proceeds from the event will be distributed by the Israeli Flying Aid Society, an organization dedicated to providing "life saving aid to people affected by natural and man-made disasters" around the world. Among the group's previous work were efforts to aid earthquake survivors in India and Indonesia and victims of Hurricane Katrina in the United States. The 17-year-old Kotel, who partnered with US President Bill Clinton to perform a duet of the Beatles' "Imagine" at a birthday party for Shimon Peres three years ago, sang as part of international pop group Six4One earlier this year at the Eurovision Song Contest in Athens. She'll be joined at tonight's fundraiser by Klaus Meine, the lead singer of one of Germany's most popular rock bands, The Scorpions, which hit an international peak in 1984 with metal anthem "Rock You Like a Hurricane" and performed in Israel for the first time last year. The pair will be joined onstage by local pop singer David D'Or, as well as by Uri Geller, the celebrity psychic, illusionist and one-time confidant of Michael Jackson. Actress Sarit Vino-Elad will emcee the event, which organizers say will also include a surprise appearance by a northern Israeli resident recently featured on hit TV singing contest Kochav Nolad. A children's choir will close the show with a rendition of history's most successful fundraising song, 1980s classic "We are the World." Organizers say they are spending no money to stage the show, with food, lighting, venue rental and other fees all donated. Kotel interrupted a summer concert tour of Germany and Mexico to perform in "Send Me an Angel," and took part herself in organizing the event, enlisting the aid of several of the other performers. "After Liel was approached about participating in this event, she invited Klaus Meine to sing with her because they worked together recently on a duet, and she also invited [D'Or and Geller] to participate," said Irit Tenhengel, Kotel's agent. "Liel had to cancel her trip to Mexico to do this right now, and she will fly in directly from Toronto to get on stage, but she was glad to be able to help." Kotel and Meine, who recorded a cover of Naomi Shemer's "Jerusalem of Gold" last year, teamed up previously to raise money for victims of the December 2004 tsunami that killed hundreds of thousands in southeast Asia. Together they'll perform "Send Me an Angel," an emotional ballad written by the Scorpions in the 1980s. The organizers chose to call the event "Send Me an Angel" both because of the song and because they say they consider northern Israel's civilian population the country's "angels" in the current crisis. "We want to help these heroes, the angels of the North, who through their perseverance and persistence are strengthening all of Israel in this campaign," organizers wrote in promotional materials for the event. Including performers, soldiers and guest visitors from northern Israel, organizers expect some 1800 participants at tonight's fundraiser. But though they hope for an enthusiastic turnout, the event itself will remain focused on alleviating the hardship of those not in attendance. "This is not going to be a jumping-around dance show," Tenhengel said. "It's going to be a moving performance to raise money for those who are suffering." Further information about the event can be found at http://sendmeanangel.tapuz.co.il or by calling 050-888-8707.