Singer Amir Benayoun denied US visa ahead of performance at UN Holocaust event
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Singer Amir Benayoun denied US visa ahead of performance at UN Holocaust event

Artist told he has failed to convince American authorities he will return to his country after show

Amir Benayoun, the Israeli singer who composed the music for 'The Last One,' an ode to Holocaust survivors (Courtesy YouTube)
Amir Benayoun, the Israeli singer who composed the music for 'The Last One,' an ode to Holocaust survivors (Courtesy YouTube)

The US Embassy in Israel is refusing to issue a visa to singer Amir Benayoun ahead of his scheduled performance at the United Nations, leaving his appearance for International Holocaust Remembrance Day in doubt.

Benayoun is slated to perform “The Last One,” a 2014 song he composed, at a United Nations ceremony on January 27, along with singers Miri Mesika and David D’Or.

But while Mesika and D’Or were able to secure visas, Benayoun’s request was denied. The singer was told he had failed to convince the US consul of his intention to return to his homeland upon completion of his visit.

The Ynet news site reported that the Foreign Ministry has been attempting to overturn the decision but its overtures have so far been unsuccesful.

Some Hebrew media outlets questioned whether Benayoun’s refusal is tied to a 2015 song about a “corrupt, cruel” pet crow he names Obama, to which he wishes a swift death.

Benayoun has said the song is intended to be a voice for Holocaust survivors, given that soon none will be alive to tell their stories. He said the song, to be sung in Hebrew, Arabic and English, will be one of the tools to combat Holocaust denial.

The writer of the lyrics, political strategist Moshe Klughaft, told Ynet he thought about a future reality in which there will “only be one Jew left alive who experienced the Holocaust,” he said. “The song was written with him in mind.”

I am the last one left, From The Depths I call out to you;
My soul calls out for the hope, I stayed alive even though I died.

I am the last one left, I remained a human being even when I was just a number;
A loaf is bread is something that you eat, but under the pillow it I would always keep.

Chorus:
And in the relay race I was left alone;
The torch is relayed now from hand to hand
Take from me everything, I am like the burning bush;
You will remain here to tell the story.

I am the last one left, still attached to the Israelites in the desert;
I have no rest, I wander and roam;
All that remains are the memories from the cattle cars.

I am the last one left, returning now to the provinces of the past;
This grass is green from dread;
I call out to you, Mother Nature.

Chorus:
And in the relay race I was left alone;
The torch is relayed now from hand to hand;
Take everything from me, I am like the burning bush;
You will remain here to tell the story

There are millions of eyes staring at me now, How can I give up?
I am the last one left, to tell the story.

Written as an anthem to survivors, the song has an accompanying video, created with the help of members of Amcha, an Israeli organization that offers psychological support and aid to Holocaust survivors and their families.

Several survivors were filmed for the video, which also includes photos of the survivors as children.

Jessica Steinberg contributed to this report.

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