US refuses visa to Israeli singer set to perform at UN
Amir Benayoun's visa request to the United States refused, with embassy saying he failed to prove he 'has a strong connection to his country, which ensures his return to Israel'; Benayoun, along with David D'Or and Miri Mesika, invited to perform song in Hebrew, English and Arabic on International Holocaust Remembrance Day.
Israeli singers Amir Benayoun, David D'Or and Miri Mesika might have to cancel their planned performance at the United Nations on the International Holocaust Remembrance Day after the US Embassy in Israel declined Benayoun's visa request.
The three singers were invited to perfom a moving song in Hebrew, English and Arabic—"The Last Survivor," written by Moshe Klugheft and composed by Benayoun—at the UN's annual ceremony in New York commemorating the liberation of the Auschwitz death camp on January 27.
Ahead of the performance, a music video was filmed for the song featuring Israeli Holocaust survivors.
But while D'Or and Mesika's visas were easily approved, Benayoun was rejected, despite presenting the US Embassy with an official invitation letter from the UN.
According to the American embassy, Benayoun was not able to convince the US consul that he "has a strong connection to his country, which ensures his return to Israel after a short visit to the US."
Over the past week, Israeli Foreign Ministry officials have been trying to convince the Americans to issue Benayoun a visa—so far unsuccessfully.
"It's interesting that artists who are not right-wing never experience this," a government diplomatic official noted.
It remains to be seen whether Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who also serves as the foreign minister, would intervene in an effort to resolve the problem.
Benayoun, meanwhile, explained that "the last place on earth I want to be in is the UN, which is why I haven't tried to issue a visa to the US in the past."
"To honor the memory of the Holocaust, I accept even the disgraceful parts of the process—and do so with love," he added.