Alicia Keys performed at Tel Aviv’s Nokia Arena as part of her “Set the World on Fire” tour.

Alicia Keys performed at Tel Aviv’s Nokia Arena as part of her “Set the World on Fire” tour.

BY NOGA GUR-ARIEH / AJT // 

If you’ve been reading my recent posts, you’ve probably noticed a hint of disappointment between the lines. I know that as the internet’s role in our lives grows, winning the media war becomes more critical, and the more lies about Israel that I encountered, the more I felt like the BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) movement had won.

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In our battle against the mischaracterization of Israel, I am a small fish in a large pond – a pond filled with killer sharks, always on the search for fresh blood. For a time, I felt as though whatever I had to say was quickly countered by brutal lies disguised as calls for justice.

Whether it was during an exchange of words on a social network or when reading what Roger Waters or Chris Martin have to say, I felt like an outcast because I am an Israeli. But in recent weeks, something changed.

From rock bottom, I came to be sitting on a cloud. Barbra Streisand praised Israel, Sharon Stone took pictures with fans in Tel Aviv, Waze was purchased by Google, a second Israeli made it to the NBA, and the Jewish State was presented as a technology giant with inventions such as ReWalk called “life-changing.”

And then, the best news of all: On July 4, Alicia Keys arrived in Israel.

Before I continue, you should understand that before every international artist’s arrival to Israel, a flood of anti-Israeli propaganda is aimed at him or her in an attempt to threaten the artist into canceling. Some fall for the lies, some ignore them and do the right thing.

Alicia Keys, however, was a completely different case.

The moment it was announced that she was scheduled to perform here, the anti-Israeli zombies sharpened their teeth and started to bite, hoping to turn her into one of them. They put a lot of effort into persuading her to cancel her concert.

In fact, I’ve never seen such a massive campaign. Maybe such an effort was put forth because – unlike the most recent artists who performed here – she is a contemporary superstar at the prime of her career.

For weeks, things were uncertain and unclear. But then, Keys released the following statement:

“I look forward to my first visit to Israel. Music is a universal language that is meant to unify audiences in peace and love, and that is the spirit of our show.”

These words were the cherry on top of my great feeling.

We did it. We fought back and we are finally winning.

And yes, I use the word “we,” even though I am not an Israeli start-up developer or a die-hard Keys fan who worked day and night to push the negativity away. I know I am merely a small part of all of this, but I am an Israeli, and Israelis are always “we,” and never “I.”

We are all individuals, each with our own life and dreams, but when it comes to facing the outside world, we are one big family of brothers and sisters. When facing the outside, we are a collective: united in our goal, putting our personal problems aside and sticking our chins up with pride.

Thus, from rock-bottom, now I’m on a cloud. I sit back, browse the web, and smile as I read about the Israel I know and love – the real Israel of achievements, culture, love and life.

I can finally smile and say, with full confidence, that I have never been more proud to be an Israeli.

Noga Gur-Arieh visited the U.S. to work at Camp Coleman after finishing her military service in the IDF. She is now back in Israel, working as a journalist.

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