There’s a brouhaha stirring around Michael Jade, one of two American-Israeli contestants competing on the current Channel 2 season of “The Voice,” Israel’s version of the reality singing competition. (The other American-Israeli is Daniella Millo, 23, who was born to American parents in Israel, and spent most of her high school years in the States.)
The 24-year-old Jade, whose real name is Michael Aljadeff and who was born in Israel, spoke during his pre-audition interview with host Michael Aloni about his interaction with actress Jennifer Lopez during his time as a contestant on reality show “American Idol.” He described an “accidental” grab of her “famed” buttocks, saying that she laughed it off. Jade and Aloni then joked about the incident, with Aloni commenting that he would warn judge Sarit Hadad, the only female judge, about the possibility of “being J Lo’d.”
Following Jade’s live audition on “The Voice,” all five of the judges — Shlomi Shabat, Sarit Hadad, Aviv Geffen, Yuval Banai and Shlomi Bracha (Mashina bandmates who vote together) — turned their chairs around, the signal for a judge who wants to mentor a singer. Jade ultimately chose Geffen, but not before Mashina singer Banai suggested to Jade that he “go with Sarit,” as his mentor.
“I must tell you something,” said Banai in broken English, “if you need to choose, I’d go with the girl (pointing to Hadad), because she’s a mother f*&!#%!”
“Yeah!,” responded Hadad, offering a thumbs up.
When the episode aired, several feminist groups immediately took offense to Jade and his J.Lo story (though not to Banai’s foul language, as Israelis sometimes use English swearwords with naive alacrity), writing to the local and international producers of the show to take them to task for the show’s promotion of sexual violence, and letting them know about a planned protest in Tel Aviv last Friday.
“We don’t know how [Channel 2's parent television network] Reshet defines good fun, but we feel that if a man grabs at a woman without her consent, that is not any kind of fun, but rather an extreme violation of her body, and also a criminal act,” wrote the protesters in their letter.
The network responded with a message that scrolled across the screen Saturday night, apologizing for anyone offended by Jade’s comments and behavior. They also wrote to the protesters, commenting that Jade’s interaction with J.Lo was “in good spirit,” as was the conversation that Jade had with host Aloni about the incident.
Jade did not respond to questions about the issue from the Times of Israel.
He did say in his televised interview that his mentorship on “The Voice” is his last chance of a career in music. Given his penchant for making racy comments on live television, it’s not clear whether Jade ruined that chance or not. But it may well be better for Hadad that Jade didn’t choose her as his mentor.