Israelis sing on Arab Idol, for Palestine
Facing the musicFacing the music

Israelis sing on Arab Idol, for Palestine

Manal Moussa and Haitham Khalailah go through PA en route to Beirut, are interrogated by Israel upon their return

Manal Moussa auditions for Arab Idol (photo credit: Youtube screenshot)
Manal Moussa auditions for Arab Idol (photo credit: Youtube screenshot)

Two Arab residents of the Galilee have made it through to the live rounds of Arab Idol, but face considerable bureaucratic hurdles and travel restrictions from the Israeli government, the website Siha Mekomit reported Tuesday.

Manal Moussa, 25, of Deir al-Asad and Haitham Khalailah, 24, from the neighboring village of Majd al-Krum initially auditioned for the show in Ramallah and were selected for the next round in Beirut.

However, Lebanon is declared an enemy state by Israel, and the travel of Israelis in the territory is illegal under both Israeli and Lebanese law.

The two managed to participate in the first round of the show after receiving special permission from the Palestinian Authority, but upon their return to Israel they were interrogated by the Shin Bet and their passports were confiscated, the report (Hebrew) said.

Moussa and Khalailah considered asking former Likud MK Ayoob Kara to assist them, but later decided his intervention might be construed as collaboration with the Israeli government, and resolved not to risk their reputation — which has been impugned by several Arab pundits.

One Lebanese columnist questioned whether the two, as holders of Israeli citizenship, should participate in the show, while users on Arabic social media have been similarly critical of the pair.

It remains unclear whether the two contenders will be allowed to return, or have already returned to Beirut.

Last year, Mohammed Assaf, a young wedding singer from a refugee camp in the Gaza Strip, won the show.

Assaf said he had to plead with Gaza’s Islamic Hamas rulers to let him leave the territory, then bribe Egyptian border guards to enter the country en route to Lebanon to compete.

AP contributed to this report.

Join us!
A message from the Editor of Times of Israel
David Horovitz

For as little as $6 a month, you can help support our independent journalism — and enjoy special benefits and status as a Times of Israel Community member!

The Times of Israel covers one of the most complicated, and contentious, parts of the world. Determined to keep readers fully informed and enable them to form and flesh out their own opinions, The Times of Israel has gradually established itself as the leading source of independent and fair-minded journalism on Israel, the region and the Jewish world.

We've achieved this by investing ever-greater resources in our journalism while keeping all of the content on our site free.

Unlike many other news sites, we have not put up a paywall. But we would like to invite readers who can afford to do so, and for whom The Times of Israel has become important, to help support our journalism by joining The Times of Israel Community. Join now and for as little as $6 a month you can both help ensure our ongoing investment in quality journalism, and enjoy special status and benefits as a Times of Israel Community member.

Join our community
read more: