Underworld hit

Popular child singer unwittingly taunts top mob figure

Dekel Vaknin, 14, gained fame dedicating recorded blessings upon request; an organized crime figure decided to use that to send a message to his rival, who retaliates with threat

Child singer and social media sensation Dekel Vaknin, April 20, 2020. (Screenshot: Facebook)
Child singer and social media sensation Dekel Vaknin, April 20, 2020. (Screenshot: Facebook)

A child singer who has become a viral sensation has unwittingly inserted himself into a dispute between two of Israel’s top underworld figures.

Dekel Vaknin, 14, is a rising star in the world of Israeli Middle Eastern pop, and has already been signed at a production label owned by one of the genre’s most prominent singers, Eyal Golan.

He became famous after filming recorded blessings to various individuals upon request, capping them by singing lines from songs. He recently achieved the ultimate mark of an Israeli celebrity by earning himself a parody version on TV show Eretz Nehederet, the Jewish state’s equivalent of Saturday Night Live.

Media reports over the weekend unveiled footage from several weeks ago of Vaknin attending an event in northern Israel alongside organized crime figure Shmulik Harush.

Harush, sitting next to Vaknin, asked him to dedicate a song to Michael Mor, who has been police’s No. 1 underworld target in northern Israel for over 20 years. Mor is a former ally of Harush who has become his bitter rival.

Michael Mor is brought to their arrest remand at the Beer Sheba District Court, under charges of murder, and ties to a crime organization, and other offences, on December 18, 2017. (Flash90)

Vaknin, apparently not knowing any of this, then started singing the song requested by Harush — singer Natali Peretz’s “En Leha Mila” (“Your Word is Worthless”) — dedicating it to Mor.

“Your word is worthless, you’re not the man you were before, who knew how to charm, phone called every moment. If this is your love, I don’t need a boyfriend,” he sang the Hebrew lyrics, not realizing they were a taunt by Harush aimed at his former ally.

A menacing response to the incident was posted by a Facebook account bearing Mor’s name on Sunday.

“A few months ago some clown sat at an event, drank a glass and a half [of alcohol], and for one second felt some kind of confidence and decided to dedicate a song to me through a 14-year-old idiot, posting it on every possible media,” the post said.

“Don’t forget that I will soon be free. Don’t abandon everyone and flee to the village. Act like the man you are trying to be now.”

Mor is currently in jail for his role in the murder of a state’s witness. Channel 12 news reported Monday that Facebook then blocked Mor’s account for the threat.

After many reports and social media posts about the incident, Vaknin’s mother Etti said the boy and his family were unaware of what had actually been going on at the event.

“We were invited to a birthday party,” she told Radio Tzafon. “We had no idea where the boy was going.”

She said Dekel “dedicates blessings to the entire Israeli nation — nothing more.”

“Only after the story broke on social media did we open Google to see who this is. We don’t know any of them,” she added, promising that the mistake would not be repeated and Dekel would from now on perform only in big halls, not in private parties and celebrations.

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