JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israeli President Reuven Rivlin canceled the appearance at his official residence by Amir Benayoun after the Israeli singer released an anti-Arab song.
Rivlin’s office announced on Tuesday that Benayoun would not be allowed to perform Sunday at an event at the Jerusalem residence to mark the exile and expulsion of Jews from Arab lands and Iran.
Benayoun on Sunday released “Ahmed Loves Jerusalem,” a song that calls an Arab-Israeli student “ungrateful scum.”
“It’s true, but I am not guilty, I wasn’t brought up on love,” the song says. “It’s true that the moment will come when you will turn your back on me, and I’ll stab you right in the back. Today I am moderate and smiling. Tomorrow … I will send to hell, a Jew or two.”
Benayoun often writes songs connected to current events.
“Amir Benayoun is a renowned and exceptional artist, and his talent has greatly contributed to Israeli music,” Rivlin’s office said in its Tuesday statement. “However, his statements made at this time of conflict and tension, even if uttered out of frustration and pain, do not, to say the least, help bring calm to the streets, and are inconsistent with the responsibility required of the President’s Residence, and of all institutions with influence over the public discourse, to work to alleviate tensions, and promote cooperation rather than division in Israeli society.”
Benayoun responded to the announcement by saying he continues to respect the office of the presidency and Rivlin, and that he is happy Rivlin occupies the office at this time.
In a Facebook post on Monday, Benayoun said the song is “expressing my feelings only” and “is not a call for violence against any person.”
“To everyone who is shocked – I suggest that you first of all be shocked and concerned by the terrorism affecting the country,” he wrote. “There are much more shocking things than a song that expressed nothing more than pain and fear.”