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Israel Hosts First International Third World Concert in the Negev

July 7, 1988
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Israel’s first Third World music festival drew some 5,000 spectators to its opening in Eshkol Park near Ofakim in the Negev Tuesday night.

They seemed to enjoy the wide variety of musical styles offered, but not the speeches by politicians.

The performers, from Britain, France, Africa, South America, the West Indies and the United States, had the audience literally jumping as they sang along and danced into the early hours of the morning.

Among the favorites were the Torekunda Brothers from Senegal; Ziggy Marley, son of the late reggae king Bob Marley, of Jamaica; and musicians from Martinique in the French West Indies and from France.

It was a mixed crowd, mainly teen-agers and young adults, with a sprinkling of families with babies.

During a break between a French group and the “All Stars” from England, the festival organizers introduced “a very important personality” from the Foreign Ministry.

It turned out to be Foreign Minister Shimon Peres, whose presence was legitimate considering the international nature of the festival and the help he provided in organizing it.

But the spectators were in no mood for oratory, as Peres had to shout to make himself heard over the whistles and screams that greeted his short speech.

“During the first 40 years, Israel worked to develop its cultural rebirth and development,” Peres said, “and during the coming 40 years we shall work to redeem the Negev.”

Switching from English to Hebrew to French while addressing the performing artists, Peres said he hoped the musicians don’t just come for this festival, but will return every year.

“It was here that the song ‘Let My People Go’ was first heard,” the foreign minister said, “and Israel shall continue working to stop slavery and oppression. It is better to conquer the desert than develop hatred.”

The festival, part of Israel’s 40th anniversary celebrations, will continue until Saturday.

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