Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement activists protested the concert of international singer Noam Vazana in Tangier, Morocco, last month, and an anti-Israel protester rushed toward the stage during her performance.
“The incident was scary,” Vazana told The Jerusalem Post on Monday, in a wide-ranging interview. “I didn’t know what he would pull out of his clothes. I went into survival mode and just continued to perform and smiled at him,” said Vazana, who is currently on tour in Germany.
An alert security guard at the Tanjazz Festival in Tangier stopped the man before he could reach Vazana. The man had his hand in his clothing, suggesting he was about to use a weapon.
The object he hid under his clothes was later revealed to be a flag.
“When he was led away from the hall, people started cheering,” Vazana said.
“The audience was very supportive.”
As a result of attempted attack, an adviser to Moroccan King Muhammad VI intervened to provide extra security measures for Vazana, in addition to the already tight security at the festival.
Vazana’s shows at the jazz festival were a premiere for her project Maktub, which features songs in Hebrew and Arabic and collaboration with Dutch-Moroccan singer Teema.
She estimated that 1,500 attended her two performances.
Vazana has performed twice at the Tanjazz Festival over the years without any problems.
This year, however, a Jewish Moroccan BDS activist, Sion Assidon, launched a campaign ahead of Vazana’s show that whipped up anti-Israeli hysteria, and led to the circulation of false allegations against Vazana among a segment of Moroccan society.
“That demonizing was not working on everyone,” she said, adding that a petition was started in support of her show by her fans which more than 1,000 people signed.
Vazana said 300 to 400 people demonstrated against her on each of the five nights of the Tangier festival in which she performed twice. The demonstrators shouted “Out with Noam!” and burned an Israeli flag.
“The festival helped me rediscover my roots but the happening around it also denied my roots. It was highly emotional,” she said.
Anti-Israeli media such as the Qatar regime-controlled Arab-language Al Jazeera spread fabricated information ahead of Vazana’s show, including an accusation on a program about “murdering Palestinian kids.”
Vazana wrote in a statement that she merely served as a trombone player and singer in the army’s orchestra and never participated in any violent operation.
“Another claim of the BDS movement is that Noam is funded by a Zionist organization, when in fact the AICF is a cultural charity foundation that holds competitions for young musicians,” She added.
Vazana won the American- Israel Cultural Foundation competition three times. The prize was a scholarship for her studies at music academies in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.
Four years ago the Tangier festival invited Vazana – whose parents were born in Morocco – to perform. In the Moroccan city of Fez, Vazana said she heard a melody that her grandmother used to sing to her.
“I knew the song from when I was four years old,” she said.
Vazana recorded an album of Ladino songs a month ago titled Nani. Vazana’s grandmother nicknamed her “Nani” [little girl] when she was a young child, a name that means the “sound you make when you want a child to go to sleep.”
Vazana was the winner of the Sephardic Music Award 2017. Her third solo album was debuted on September 23 in the Korzo Theater in The Hague.
Her second album, Love Migration, was listed as an iTunes Top-20 bestseller and won her the ACUM album prize 2014.
Vazana is active in humanitarian causes, including aid to Syrian refugees and organizing musical projects between Israeli and Palestinian musicians.
“Music should connect people,” she said.
Vazana is currently on tour with 90 concerts scheduled worldwide in 2017 in North America, Europe, Asia and Africa.