The mayor insisted that women's exclusion from Jerusalem's public sphere will not reoccur, but the women who were asked not to perform are not comforted by the gesture.
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"We play and sing in an ensemble with men. As far as I know, the Halacha doesn’t forbid that, but we were specifically asked not to go on stage," said Noa Segal, a drummer with the Marsh Dondurma ensemble, which was asked by the festival's management to replace the female musician with a male one.
The incident occurred in the Old City's Jewish Quarter, and according to the Jerusalem Development Authority, "a managerial error" was behind the choice to have the gender-mixed ensemble in the religiously sensitive area. Many women took part in the festival in other parts of the city, the authority stressed.
Nevertheless, Segal was deeply offended: "Three years ago, we were asked the same thing and it was only the mayor's interfering that put a stop to it. I would very much like to respect the locals but I can't respect those who don’t respect me.
"This festival is funded by public taxes; it took place in the Old City's Jewish Quarter – where residents and tourists come for cultural events. This didn’t happen at the Mea Shearim neighborhood. I find it very unfortunate that the city doesn’t put a stop to this and essentially cooperates with these things.
Another incident in the festival involved singer Liat Tzion, who was asked to leave the stage in the middle of a performance. The production assistant who approached Tzion, asking her to stop singing and get off the stage, was apparently threatened.
According to Jacky Bachar, the event's artistic manager, "During the concert, two religious guys approached a young woman with the production company and told her 'if you don’t take this woman off the stage, it's going to be ugly; we'll disrupt the entire show.' Thinking on her feet and fearing that violence might ensue, she did what she thought was right, without asking for anyone's permission, went on stage and asked the singer to step down."
Bachar stressed that the production assistant was trying to maintain the peace, but he nonetheless added that the he was not in support of the way she chose to handle the situation. "The first thing I did when I arrived at the scene," he told Ynet, "was to apologize to the band and the singer. We had a conversation. We asked how they would feel if they had to perform without the singer, and they decided to go on without her.
I apologized to her from the bottom of my heart. I guess we should have had them perform in a different location.
As for reports that the microphone of the manager of the Marsh Dondurma ensemble was turned off just when he was telling the audience about the gendered tribulations his group was forced to undergo, Bachar said that though he was informed that the microphone was indeed turned off, he was not sure about the reason.
"A possible reason," Bachar stated, "is that the police asked to turn the microphone off due to complaints of noise; it was very late. I would never allow anyone to turn off a microphone for an artist speaking."
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