Further evidence of the way in which the international music scene is reflecting aspects of the Gaza war comes with news that the Scottish singer Annie Lennox, one of Britain's most famous musicians, has objected to Israeli Foreign Minister and Kadima Party leader Tzipi Livni's use of her song 'I Saved the World Today' in a YouTube film endorsing Livni's election campaign. The song first appeared on the 1999 album Peace featuring Lennox and Dave Stewart, her partner in Eurythmics. (It has already been used in an episode of the second season of The Sopranos - "The Knight in White Satin Armor").
The Jewish Chronicle newspaper reports: "The two-minute clip has been seen by more than 600 people and features the song being played over images of politicians including Hillary Clinton, George Bush and Tony Blair condemning Hamas rocket attacks on Israel. It ends with a screen showing an Israeli flag and the phrase: 'Israel: We’re all behind you.'"
Small wonder that Annie Lennox is not exactly thrilled by this use of her song!
As the newspaper observes: "Ms Lennox was a leading campaigner against Israel’s action in Gaza and joined demonstrators on a rally in London three weeks ago. The singer, who is divorced from Israeli film-maker Uri Fruchtmann, has since clarified her views, issuing a statement saying she was not taking sides in the conflict and calling for a peaceful resolution." The JC would seem to be referring to Lennox's letter to the Jerusalem Post in response to an open letter of January 11 to her from Yoram Dori, a senior adviser to Israeli President Shimon Peres.
After confessing that until two days earlier he had not known exactly who Lennox was, Dori went on the attack: "When I saw the fervor with which you demonstrated at the anti-Israeli demonstration in London and your interviews in which you slandered my people and my country in their efforts to defend the lives of our citizens in the southern part of our nation, I decided to write to tell a short story about what is happening in our country.
"No, I do not intend to recall the efforts of your government during World War II to prevent Jews - the brands snatched from the fire - to reach their homeland, Israel. I have not come to settle the account of my father who, fleeing from Austria when the Nazis entered that country, was caught at sea by a British destroyer and who, with great initiative, threw all his documents into the sea and thereby foiled their intention to send him back to the killing fields. To be fair, I'll not salute your people for the Balfour Declaration, although you deserve it." He goes on to tell the story of an eight-year-old boy, Osher Tewito, who was badly injured and lost a leg in a Kassam rocket explosion in Sderot.
In her January 15 reply Lennox begins:
"After reading Yoram Dori's 'An open letter to Annie Lennox' (January 11) I felt despair and anguish at the manner in which the awful war in Gaza is being used to divide the rest of the world between 'pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian‚' instead of 'pro-peace‚ or pro-war.'
"In my mind, the only distinction that matters right now, as Palestinian and Israeli lives are being lost and endangered by this violent conflict, is whether you support war or peace. I join hands with other humanitarians who support peace.
"For every Osher Tewito in Israel, there are at least 100 children who have tragically lost limbs or indeed their lives, to this conflict in Gaza. Each and every single one of these lost childhoods is an immense tragedy, whether Israeli or Palestinian, and I feel the pain for both peoples. I work for peace so that children on both sides of the Gaza-Israel border can be free from rocket and missile attacks. I hope for peace so that these children can know one another, learn from one another, appreciate each other, and maybe, some day in the future, love each other..."
Dori's open letter was of more than 860 words. Given his serious accusations of slander against Lennox, one might have expected her to be given the right to reply at decent length. The Jerusalem Post did publish a letter from her on its letters page, edited down to less than 350 words. She publishes the full unedited letter on her MySpace blog.
The Jerusalem Post omitted the following from Lennox's letter: "There are millions of people in Britain who support the campaign to end this war, including the Jewish Friends of Israel who in the Sunday Observer (11 January 2009) called upon Israel to employ an immediate ceasefire." The newspaper also cut out: "I have taken this position as a humanitarian and as a mother. I cannot stand seeing children killed. I cannot stand seeing families shatttered. I want this to end, and only a permanent ceasefire will achieve this. A peaceful future for Israelis and Palestinians is possible, but it is being made impossible by this war. War is not the way to solve this conflict, and all it is doing is sowing the seeds of hatred and anger on both sides of the fence and fuelling further misery, which is likely to find expression in another round of conflict. I am not alone in my views, and..." Also omitted is: "I am not opposed to Israel, and I do not support Palestinians. I support an end to the war and for peaceful negotiations. That is my position and I state it unequivocally and without apology."
The Israeli newspaper Haaretz notes, under the subheading 'Saving the world?' : "Livni certainly has many virtues, but she has yet to save the world. At the moment, she's struggling to get Kadima back up to 30 Knesset seats. And that's no easy mission either."
Haaretz continues: "Annie Lennox, the gifted singer who constitutes one half of the Eurythmics duo, also happens to be among the leaders of the international protest against the operation in Gaza. In an interview in England, she described the IDF's actions in Gaza as 'a pornography of destruction.' She also marched at the head of an anti-war and anti-Israel demonstration in London attended by tens of thousands. Having this particular singer star in an official election video disseminated by Foreign Minister Livni's campaign is an interesting choice, to say the least.
"Livni staffers professed not to know what the fuss was about. A source in Kadima said that the video was put together by Web surfers and happily adopted by 'the campaign.' Before Wednesday, neither Livni nor her people were even aware that it had been posted on YouTube. When they heard about it, said the source, they didn't know whether to laugh or to cry. "
Livni is not only "Saving the World" but is also "All Over the World" according to another of her music videos starring world leaders, current and has-beens: