WASHINGTON – The State of Israel
on Tuesday night presented its Persian weapon at the United Nations General Assembly building: Iranian-born singer Rita.
Under the banner, "Tunes for peace," the Israeli singer performed at the UN headquarters in New York in the presence of the UN secretary-general, the General Assembly president, ambassadors, diplomats and Jewish community leaders.
An Iranian television crew was also spotted in the auditorium.
Israeli singer at UN (photo from Rita's Facebook page)
The idea, according to the concert's organizers, led by Israel Ambassador to the UN Ron Prosor, is to "convey a message of multiculturalism, harmony and peace – the foundations of the United Nations organization."
Rita sang on stage in Hebrew, English and Farsi, languages which she said "represent ancient civilizations."
The General Assembly hall was packed. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon welcomed Rita and the audience cheered, whistled and danced in the aisles.
The Israeli singer rocked the house with songs in Hebrew, Farsi and English, with the word "peace" appearing numerous times in all three languages.
Throughout the evening, Rita posted pictures from the concert and preparations on her Facebook page. A moment before getting on the stage she wrote, "We're about to make history."
Rita with UN secretary-general (Photo: AP)
Rita, who will celebrate her 51st birthday in late March, was born in Tehran and immigrated to Israel with her family at the age of eight.
Before performing at the UN, she expressed her feelings on her Facebook page: "During this period I could not imagine what fate and God had planned for me when I started working on 'My Joys' album.
Not only is our country in such a tense period with the Iranian regime (and I stress 'the Iranian regime' and not the Iranian people), I was amazed by the extent to which people embraced this album in Israel.
"Due to the album's success in Iran itself, the international media are excited too and refer to it as a place of hope and connection, amazingly without any cynicism.
"I am proud of being Jewish and Israeli. I am about to reveal a piece of the ancient, rich and beautiful culture of Persia. The concert combined both languages intertwined simply and beautifully, just like the prayer in my heart that we, the common people, will be able to make an impact eventually.
"There is a story about a boy who walked into a synagogue and didn't know how to pray like everyone else, so he just whistled with all his might. I have no knowledge of the language of politics, but I will be there, whistle my prayer and hope that it reaches as far as Iran."
Message to the world. Rita (Photo: AP)
"Tonight, you are helping me fulfill a lifelong dream," Ambassador Prosor said. "I always hoped that I would one day be the opening act for Rita at a major venue in New York City.
"It is our sincere hope that this musical evening will echo from New York to the hearts and minds of people throughout Israel and Iran – fostering better relations, understanding, and communication between our two peoples.
"As I'm sure you're all aware, traditional UN protocol calls for polite conversation, subdued discussion, and keeping the decibel level to a bare minimum. Tonight, you can forget all of those rules. Tonight, I encourage you to get up on your feet and sing along," the ambassador concluded before inviting Rita to the stage.
Or Barnea contributed to this report