The Jordanian Arab singer Aziz Maraka, who performed before Arab citizens of Israel last month at the Christmas Market festival in Kafr Yasif, has been facing widespread criticism and a shaming campaign on social media for performing in Israel. Pictured: Kafr Yasif, Israel, pictured in 2006. (Image source: Tamar Hayardeni/Wikimedia Commons)
Here is a new one for the books: An Arab singer stands up to perform in front of an Arab audience, and the anti-Israel brigade goes berserk.
What has so inflamed the Israel haters this time?
The singer is Aziz Maraka, a Jordanian composer, performer, recording artist, and producer. The audience are Arab citizens of Israel from the town of Kafr Yasif in the Northern District of Israel.
Maraka, who was invited last month to entertain Arab citizens of Israel during the annual Christmas Market festival in Kafr Yasif, has been facing widespread criticism and a shaming campaign on social media for agreeing to perform in Israel.
Never mind that Maraka, an Arab, was invited by Arabs to a Christmas event in an Arab town. Never mind that Maraka was not invited by any Israeli private or public institution. Never mind that Maraka did not perform before a Jewish audience.
None of that matters to the anti-Israel groups and individuals who are slandering the Jordanian singer and accusing him of "treason" and "promoting normalization" with Israel. The campaign of hate against Maraka shows that those who are calling for boycotting Israel care nothing about the well-being or interests of Arabs, including the two million Arab citizens of Israel.
Those who are now condemning the Jordanian singer say they are opposed to any form of normalization with Israel. They choose to ignore that it was Arabs who invited the Arab singer to perform in their town. They choose to ignore that Israel was kind enough to approve Maraka's request to enter the country for the Christmas celebration.
To justify its lamentable denunciation of Maraka, the so-called Palestinian Committee for the Boycott of Israel claimed that the Kafr Yasif festival was being organized under the auspices of official Israeli institutions, including the Israeli Ministry of Culture and Sports, and various companies and banks.
The committee "forgot" to mention that these Israeli "institutions" hire many Arab citizens and provide daily services to the Arab sector in Israel. The committee also "forgot" to mention that Israel's Arab citizens do not boycott the Israeli government or any other public institution in Israel.
Such a move would be contrary to the interests of the Arab citizens, who are seeking integration into Israel, and not separation.
The committee, like other anti-Israel groups around the world, particularly the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, are opposed to visits to Israel because they want to keep the world in the dark. The whole idea of boycotting Israel is designed to prevent the world from learning about the good things that Israel stands for and actually provides.
These groups do not want artists like Maraka to visit Israel because he may return to his country, Jordan, and tell his family and friends about the nice time he spent in Israel. These groups are afraid that Maraka will go back to Jordan and report that he was welcomed in Israel by both Arabs and Jews, and that he was harassed by no one.
That is not a pretty picture for Israel-haters. These groups want the world to think that Arab citizens are being oppressed by Israel and have no rights. That, of course, is completely false. As a minority, Arabs in Israel enjoy more rights than in many Arab and Muslim countries.
In Israel, women are not being sold as sex slaves in the open markets of Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. In Israel, a Muslim woman can walk around freely without fearing to bare her head. In Israel, people are not being beheaded and crucified on the streets and public squares.
In fact, the anti-Israel committee that has been waging a campaign of incitement against the Jordanian singer hinted that it was concerned that those who visit Israel would be exposed to positive things. Here is what the committee had to say: "The participation of any Arab artist in a normalization activity supports [Israel's] claim to be a 'state of democracy and freedoms.'"
The committee, in other words, is saying that it is worried that artists such as Maraka who travel to Israel may discover that Israel is a democracy that respects public freedoms. Such a discovery would refute the lies of Israel haters, who have long depicted Israel as an "apartheid and oppressive state."
This concern was echoed by anti-Israel activists in Jordan, who accused Maraka of "promoting normalization" with Israel by visiting the "occupied territories." It is worth noting that Kafr Yasif is a town in northern Israel, and not in the West Bank or Gaza Strip. But anti-Israel activists in Jordan see no difference between a Palestinian village in the West Bank and an Arab town inside Israel. For these activists, the entire land from the Mediterranean Sea to the Jordan River is all Muslim-owned land supposedly occupied by non-Muslims, even though these "infidels" have been living there non-stop for more than 3,000 years.
In a statement, the activists warned that visits by Jordanian artists to Israel help to boost Israel's effort to improve and beautify its image in the world. "The Zionist enemy is the only one that benefits from these visits," the activists said, referring to Maraka's participation in the Christmas festival.
Arab Israelis, meanwhile, have shown that they do not particularly appreciate the anti-Israel activists and groups that are busy campaigning and inciting against Israel, especially on university campuses in the US, Canada and elsewhere. Many Arab citizens, it turns out, are quite opposed to the idea of boycotting the state in which they live, and are seeking full integration into its political, economic, security and educational institutions and bodies.
Amal Murkus, a famous Arab Israeli singer from Kafr Yasif, responded to the attacks on the Jordanian singer by addressing the anti-Israel groups with these words: "Enough, we are disgusted by you! This is not the way to liberate Palestine. We don't need you to teach us the meaning of patriotism."
Murkus's furious reaction has been endorsed by many Arab Israelis, including prominent lawyer Jawad Boulos, who pointed out that those who were calling for boycotting Israel are acting against the interests of the Arab population. Boulos wrote that it would be "impossible" for Arabs living in Israel to boycott their own state.
The controversy surrounding the performance of the Jordanian singer in an Arab town in Israel showcases how bizarre anti-Israel activists around the world have become. As always, Israel's enemies are ready to hurt Arabs in order to advance their anti-Israel agenda. When an Arab visiting an Arab has become an act of "treason" that "serves the interests of the Zionist enemy," we know that we are in for a big performance.
Khaled Abu Toameh, an award-winning journalist based in Jerusalem, is a Shillman Journalism Fellow at Gatestone Institute.