Popular Arab singer woos Israel audience

Popular Arab singer woos Israel audience

JERUSALEM - The Associated Press
Popular Arab singer woos Israel audience

Nissren Kader won a popular show in which Eyal Golan, one of Israel’s most successful entertainers, chooses the best performer of Mizrahi songs in March. AP photo

A young Arab woman who won a popular Israeli music competition has become an unlikely star, capturing hearts in a country where suspicion and hostility often mark relations between Arabs and the Jewish majority.
Nissren Kader recently won first place on “Eyal Golan is Calling You,” a popular television show hosted by one of Israel’s most successful entertainers. On the program, Golan as host chooses over the course of a three-month-long competition the best performer of Mizrahi songs, the musical tradition of Middle Eastern Jews. 

By singing beautifully in Hebrew, she charmed her audience by showing that she too was moved by their cultural traditions. “I am so proud: I’m the first Arab to win a Hebrew singing program,” said Kader, who is from the northern Israeli city of Haifa. “I never imagined that they (Jews) would like me to the degree that they did. I’m an Arab citizen in a state that has troubles and disagreements between Jews and Arabs, and they saw something else,” she told The Associated Press. “They saw another side.” 

Kader, who before competing on the show worked as a wedding singer in the Arab community, shared her win in late March with Maor Ashwal, a Jewish Israeli. During the final, her audiences sang along, cheered and clapped to songs in Hebrew and Arabic. 

In recent years, Jewish and Arab politicians have used increasingly harsh rhetoric against each other, further polarizing relations. Kader, for her part, has stirred up mixed feelings among Israelis. They marvel at the power of her voice.