A very Persian panel at the Shimon Peres Presidents Conference

This year’s Presidents Conference hosted by Shimon Peres had a number of interesting panels covering diverse issues such as  politics, women’s rights, region and arts, just to name a few.

One of the panels was called “Art and Culture: The Bridges of Tomorrow’s World“.

There were four panelists and not one, but two were Iranian – Israelis.

One was the singer Rita Jahanforouz. She talked about her family and how her music connected her with Iran.

The other panelist was Dorit Rabinyan who comes from an Iranian family from the city of Esfahan (but of course!). I have read her first novel called “Persian Brides“. It comes with my highest recommendations.  She is a very accomplished (Esfahani) individual. Here is her bio from the conference web page:

Dorit Rabinyan is a novelist and a scriptwriter. She published her first novel, Persian Brides (Canongate, UK) at the age of 21 and her second, Strand of a Thousand Pearls (Random House, USA) at the age of 26. In addition to her two novels, Rabinyan wrote a television script for Israel commercial television, “Shuli’s Fiance” which won the Israeli Academy Award for the best drama of 1997. She has been awarded the Yitzhak Vinner Prize (1996), The Jewish Wingate Quarterly Award (1999) The Prime Minister Literary Award (2000) and The Acum Literary Award (2009). Rabinyan’s novels are translated into 15 languages worldwide.

Dorit talked about her experiences of being an Israeli of Iranian heritage. How she saw things from both the Israeli and Iranian cultural perspective and how as someone born into an Iranian family tried to fit it in the Israeli society. She is a great speaker. Her English is phenomenal.

Did I mention that she is (also) from Esfahan? 🙂 All joking aside, in the Iranian Jewish world, people look down at us. So when one of us does make it, we are very proud.

Here are their presentations. I hope one day they will be able to share their experiences with other Iranian women, in Iran. I really do believe that if it only were up to women, chances of peace would be higher.

Israel’s Iranian Diva to Sing At the UN

Great news.

According to Yediot Ahronot ” Iranian-born Israeli singer Rita, whose albums are being sold on Iran’s black market, is about to make history once again: On March 5 she will perform at the United Nations General Assembly in New York, a privilege shared by few artists in the past, including Beyoncé.”

This is fantastic news for Iranian – Israelis like me. What an honor. Through Rita we get to show our pride in our Iranian heritage at the UN General Assembly.

I can’t begin to tell you how proud I am of Rita. She was only eight when she left Iran. When she sang in Persian as a young teenager, some nasty individuals actually teased her Farsi. Can you believe that? Instead of encouraging the girl they want to put her down. Yet she continued. And today she is known all over the world, including in Iran.

We Iranian – Israelis have no way of returning to our beloved Iran, for now.

So one of the ways to show our love to the people of Iran is through art and culture, and few could do it better than our Rita.

Take it away Rita Jahanforouz: