Following several incidents of women musicians at the Sounds of the Old City festival in Jerusalem facing discrimination from festival organizers, Jerusalem’s Mayor Nir Barkat posted a statement on his Facebook page yesterday pledging to fight against such incidents. He insisted that women's exclusion from Jerusalem's public sphere will not recur. However, the women who were ‘asked’ by festival promoters not to perform say they are not comforted by the mayor’s gesture.
After More Incidents Of Gender Discrimination Made Public, Jerusalem’s Mayor Promises To Fight Them – Again
Shmarya Rosenberg • FailedMessiah.com
Ynet reports that following several incidents of women musicians at the Sounds of the Old City festival in Jerusalem facing discrimination from festival organizers, Jerusalem’s Mayor Nir Barkat posted a statement on his Facebook page yesterday pledging to fight against such incidents. He insisted that women's exclusion from Jerusalem's public sphere will not recur.
However, the women who were ‘asked’ by festival promoters not to perform say they are not comforted by the mayor’s gesture.
The incidents occurred in the Old City's Jewish Quarter, known as The Rova or The Rova HaYehudi in Hebrew.
The festival was sponsored by the city and paid for by it.
The Jerusalem Development Authority claims that "a managerial error" was behind the choice to have the gender-mixed ensemble in the religiously sensitive area that was once largely secular and is now dominated by haredim.
Noa Segal, the drummer for the group Marsh Dondurma, is deeply offended that festival organizers asked the band to replace its two female members with male subsitutes, and that when the band refused, the organizers tried unsuccessfully to block their performance – the same performance the organizers had booked with the band weeks before.
"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,” she told Ynet.
Singer Liat Tzion was in the middle of her performance when a production assistant for the festival asked her to stop singing immediately and get off the stage.
"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,” Jacky Bachar, the festival’s artistic director, claimed.
"The first thing I did when I arrived at the scene 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,” Bachar claimed.
Marsh Dondurma’s leader tried to tell the audience what festival organizers had done tho his group, but his microphone was suddenly cut off by festival organizers.
Bachar admitted that the microphone was indeed turned off, but claimed not to know the reason why.
"A possible reason 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,” Bachar claimed.
Jerusalem’s secular mayor Nir Barkat has a history of allowing the exclusion of women until that exclusion is exposed in the media. He also persecuted city councilwoman Rachel Azaria for filing suit to stop public gender discrimination in the city, claiming that by doing so she had betrayed the governing coalition.