Achinoam Nini אחינועם ניני, known simply as “Noa,” Israeli born of Yemenite origin, is Israel’s leading international singer/songwriter, having shared the stage with superstars such as Sting, Pat Metheny, Quincy Jones, Stevie Wonder, Andrea Bocelli and many more. Together with her longstanding collaborator Gil Dor, she has released over 15 albums which have sold millions the world over.
She is one of Israel’s first UN Goodwill Ambassadors, was given the honorary title of Cavalliera de la Republica Italiana (knighthood) by Italy’s former President Napolitano, and among her many accolades is the Chrystal Award of the World Economic Forum, where she was also chosen a Global Leader of Tomorrow.
Canadians might also know her as Israel’s contestant to the Eurovision song contest in 2009 with Arab-Israeli singer Mira Awad and the voice behind the theme song of the Academy Award-winning film “Life is Beautiful.”
What is known less in Canada is that Noa is one of Israel’s most prominent voices for human rights, equality, and peace. She champions anti-racism and refuses to back down from a vision of equality and shared society between Jews and Arabs.
Time and again, she has taken bold, important, and sometimes unpopular stances for liberal values in Israel. These make her one of the most prominent faces of the New Israel Fund’s board in Israel.
She was the only leading Israeli artist to agree to perform in the historic peace rally where Yitzchak Rabin was murdered and has since become Israel’s most outstanding celebrity advocate for the two-state solution. In 2009, during Operation Cast Lead, she represented Israel at the Eurovision song contest with “There Must Be Another Way,” a call for understanding between Jews and Arabs and co-performed with Arab-Israeli singer Mira Awad.
In 2016, Noa resigned from the Israel Artists Association because it was giving a lifetime achievement award to a singer known for anti-Arab comments. A year later, Noa called out the Minister of Culture for walking out of an awards ceremony because an Israeli-Arab singer was performing.
This summer, in response to the passage of the Nation State Law — which undermined equality in Israeli law and demoted Arabic from an official language — Noa headlined a solidarity event in Tel Aviv where thousands gathered for “The World’s Largest Arabic Lesson.”
Noa’s principled stances often make her a target of bullying from opponents in Israel and even in Canada. Some people are angry that she encourages dialogue with Palestinians, works to realise the two-state solution, and supports social justice and human rights groups, including the New Israel Fund.
Two years ago, Noa was slated to perform at a Yom Haatzmaut concert in Vancouver, BC, when right-wing activists launched a smear campaign to cancel her appearance. One major sponsor dropped out — and was replaced by the Israeli Consulate.
We at the New Israel Fund of Canada celebrate Noa and the thousands of Israelis who stand up tirelessly for democracy, equality, and shared society. Noa comes to Toronto at a time when those Israelis need solidarity from Canadians — and people all over the world.