A controversial Arab-Israeli rapper who in the past called IDF soldiers terrorists and said he "understood" the motivations of suicide bombers will perform at a concert in Haifa during the Sukkot holiday.
Nafar, a former protégé of the Jewish rapper Kobi Shimoni – better known by his stage name "Subliminal" – parted ways with Shimoni after the outbreak of the Second Intifada following comments by Nafar suggesting that he "understood the rage that" motivates suicide bombers.
A member of the DAM rap group, Nafar has referred to Israel as a "terrorist state", and in a music video entitled "Who"s the Terrorist?" slammed IDF soldiers, condemning them as the true "terrorists" for taking "my land".
In a statement by the Haifa municipality, a performance by Tamer Nafar slated for Tuesday evening will be held as planned, despite objections by Culture Minister Miri Regev (Likud).
"The opening performance for the Neve Yosef community festival – a joint Arab-Jewish event [held for years] in Haifa – will continue as planned. We are dismayed by the rumors being spread and invite the public to come and enjoy an event promoting cooperation and dialogue," the statement reads.
On Monday, Regev called upon Haifa Mayor Yonah Yahav to cancel Nafar"s performance at the event.
"It saddens me that a festival, like the Haifa Film Festival, which has gained a reputation for quality and bringing people from different cultures and countries together has chosen to give voice to an artist like Tamer Nafar, who has taken every opportunity and used every venue possible to deride the very idea of the State of Israel and its existence as the state of the Jews," said Regev.
Haifa leaders also called for Nafar"s invitation to be rescinded, with Haifa Deputy Mayor Shai Abuhatzera and Haifa councilmen Uri Grinberger and Yossi Shalom appealing to Yahav to "Order the planned concert of the singer Tamer Nafar in Haifa to be cancelled."
"We believe that the concert with the singer - several of whose songs express opposition to the existence of the State of Israel and even encourage terrorism – cannot be held in a public area on a city stage."
The three councilmen noted that such a move would not constitute censorship, but merely a revocation of public support for an anti-Israel performer.
"This isn"t an artist who rented out a private hall and sold tickets to his show. This is an event that is part of the city"s public celebration of the Sukkot holiday, funded by taxpayers of Haifa, and held just 200 meters from the site of an attack by a suicide bomber just a few years ago. We call on you to cancel the show immediately."
The Haifa branch of the Likud youth movement also demanded the show"s cancellation, and threatened to disrupt it if it continued as planned.
"We, the Likud youth of Haifa&hellip plan to disrupt the event should the city not cancel the show. If it will not be cancelled – we will crash the show!"
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