The Italian branch of WIZO, the Women’s International Zionist Organization, has been swept up in a local Jewish media storm for canceling a concert by Israeli singer Achinoam Nini.
Nini, known as Noa, was scheduled to perform in Milan in October for the organization’s annual fundraising gala. The singer performs mostly in Europe, said Nini’s European manager, Pompeo Benincasa.
According to the Benincasa, the organization decided to cancel the concert in light of Noa’s recent statements to Italian press agency ANSA about the ongoing war in Gaza.
In the interview, Nini compared Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas and prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
“I met Abu Mazen [Abbas] in Ramallah,” she said. “I believe that the Palestinian leader really wants peace with Israel, but unfortunately I can’t say the same about my prime minister.”
Nini is known as a longtime supporter of coexistence efforts between Arabs and Jews. In 2012, a Facebook group called for a boycott of the singer, after she performed at an alternative Remembrance Day concert for bereaved Israeli and Palestinian families.
The singer lives in Israel.
Ester Israel, president of WIZO Italy, denied the cancellation was political, explaining that some of the funders of the event had not confirmed their availability.
Benincasa “is manipulating this,” Israel told The Times of Israel. “If we had a problem with her political views, we would have not called her from the beginning. It was just a matter of sponsors. We are suffering from a moral lynching for no reason.”
Benincasa said he received a message from WIZO, telling him that the funders had refused to sponsor the event and that several members of the the Milan Jewish community had stated that they would not join the fundraising gala due to Nini’s political views.
Benincasa, who has worked with Nini for 24 years, accused the Italian organization of ostracizing his client and said the decision was made in conjunction with the Tel Aviv chapter of WIZO.
“It is the same ostracism that Noa has experienced in Israel because of her political views,” said Benincasa.
But Israel said that wasn’t the case, pointing out that WIZO Italy supports institutions and facilities in Israel that include all cultures and ethnicities.
Moreover, said Israel, Nini performed in Rome for WIZO in 2010, and is slated to perform in Trieste in the fall.
“I can’t see the ostracism,” she said.
Nini has yet to release a statement on the incident.