March 2, 2009 / 10:44 PM / 10 years ago

Arab-Jewish duo to sing for peace at Eurovision

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - A Jewish-Arab duo whose selection to represent Israel in the Eurovision song contest stirred controversy will perform a peace song chosen on Monday by fellow Israelis.

The tune “Your eyes,” sung by Achinoam Nini, a Jewish singer better known abroad as “Noa,” and Mira Awad, a Christian Arab Israeli, got the most votes in text messages from among four selections the duo performed on state television.

“People want to believe in something, how much can you just watch the horrors?” Nini said on Israel’s Channel One television of the song, which has lyrics in Hebrew, Arabic and English and whose chorus says: “There must be another way.”

Awad, criticized by some Palestinians when her plan to represent Israel was first announced during a three-week war in the Gaza Strip in January, said in response:

“There were people who supported us, and I would seize on those.”

Israel’s President Shimon Peres said he admired the duo, Israel’s first mixed ethnic entry to the contest in decades, “for what they are doing for their people and the sake of peace.”

Israeli Arabs, made up largely of Palestinians and their descendants who stayed in Israel after a war over its founding in 1948, account for about 20 percent of Israel’s mostly Jewish population.

This year’s Eurovision contest will be held on May 12-14 in Moscow.

Writing by Allyn Fisher-Ilan; Editing by Michael Roddy

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