In order to counter Israeli Apartheid Week, one woman is using Israeli music to show a different side of the country.
Ravid Dahan, in conjunction with her booking agency Motek Productions, is hosting two concerts with Israeli artists in response to Apartheid Week, which this year is from March 7 to 20. Israeli Apartheid Week is held annually in cities and on campuses around the world, with the goal of delegitimizing Israel and encouraging the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement.
On March 3, Shalom Hanoch, widely considered one of Israel’s rock music legends, is performing at the Bathurst Street Theatre in Toronto.
On March 12, Asaf Avidan, who Rolling Stone magazine called a “26-year-old genius,” will be performing at the Gladstone Hotel as part of Canadian Music Fest .
The idea to counter Israeli Apartheid Week, Dahan said, started in 2010, when Motek Productions brought the Israeli hip-hop band Hadag Nahash to Toronto.
“Last year we did [this] on a small scale, so we decided this year to make a big impact,” she said. “The first important aspect to me is that people will see [Israel] differently. The other thing that is important to me is that the Jews, that the Israelis, that the students that go to school… don’t feel ashamed of walking into their university during [Apartheid Week].”
In advance of Apartheid Week, Motek hosted another event on Feb. 13, a free concert with Geva Alon, also at the Gladstone Hotel. Alon is travelling to cities across Canada as well, including Vancouver, Victoria, Hamilton and London.
Motek Productions specializes in bringing Israeli artists to perform in North America throughout the year and exposing a wide variety of people, not just the Jewish and Israeli communities, to Israeli culture.
“[We try to] show a different face of Israel to Canadians who don’t really know what we are, what we’re doing and what Israel has to offer,” Dahan said. “It’s not only about the conflict.
“It hurts me when people don’t know enough about [Israel], and I blame this on us… anyone who’s lived in Israel, been to Israel or knows about Israel can do something. If it’s one person or a million people, big changes start small.”
Dahan, who moved to Canada from Israel, spent nine years travelling before settling in Toronto. She moved to Toronto because of the strong possibility to effect change.
“Toronto is my baby,” she said. “I’m part of this community, and I do want to make change. I believe that we can. [If] there is a place in the world that we can do that it’s in Toronto, because of the culture.”
With this particular series of concerts, Dahan is aiming to reach out beyond the Jewish community by making them more mainstream and accessible, which she said is being done by having Avidan perform during the Canadian Music Fest, and by bringing Alon to the Gladstone for a free concert.
Dahan wanted Alon to perform before Apartheid Week to keep the focus where she says it belongs – on the music, not the politics.
“With Geva Alon, we don’t bring him during Apartheid Week, we’re bringing him… before. Why? Because then we’re dealing with the meaning, not the… politics around it. We’re able to get people before [Apartheid Week starts].”
Motek Productions has received a lot of support from members of both the Canadian and Israeli communities, Dahan said, mentioning Dori Segal from Gazit-Globe, an Israeli real estate investment company. Amir Gissin, the consul general of Israel for Toronto, has also been very helpful, she added.
“I wish we had more Gissins in the world. His obligation to his job is something that I don’t see a lot, and I meet a lot of people,” Dahan said. “He cares about Apartheid Week and he’s here to make a change, not only because of his job.”
Dahan hopes that people will take away from the concerts an appreciation of Israeli music and culture and a sense of duty to encourage a different attitude toward Israel.
“I want people to be united through music. I want people to appreciate Israeli culture… In Israel there are many new artists, and we need to give them an opportunity.
“If each person listens to even one song, even just one artist that [Motek] brings in, they will understand Israel more. And then our community will be stronger.”
For more information or to purchase tickets for the Asaf Avidan and Shalom Hanoch shows, visit www.motekproductions.com.