Jordan Festival Falls Apart By Suspicion Of Normalization With Israel

In what is sure to be the silliest and biggest distraction this summer, the Jordan Festival is facing a lot of Arab stars backing out before the festival even kicks off; citing “suspicion of normalization with Israel”. For those who haven’t heard about the controversy, which I hesitate to label as a controversy, it basically revolves around accusations that the French organizing company also organized Israel’s recent 60th anniversary celebrations. It turns out the company in question isn’t even organizing the event. Nevertheless, the local media, columnists, people and yes, even the stars, are “suspicious”.

The government has attempted to counter the allegations but it seems to be too little, too late, in another demonstration of the government arriving fashionably late to the party (and being surprised that the party went on). And despite their insistence that the festival is fully organized by Jordanians, no one really believes the government. Putting the words “Israel” and “normalization” in the same sentence tend to push the average Jordanian into a state of trance of which no logical explanation can ever break him of.

But I’m positive this is all based on a back story we’re not being fully told. If I had to guess, I would assume (and I emphasize the word ‘assume’) that the Jordan Artists Association may have been snubbed or marginalized, in some shape or form during the organization of this festival, which is what has lead its president, Shaher Hadid, to spearhead the whole boycotting campaign. The government seems to be begging these people to provide any evidence of these allegations and I’m wondering that with none being provided, why this isn’t the end of the story? Because, I mean, if Elissa decides to boycott, well, then, that’s it. End of story. Game over, man.

Meanwhile, other people, have other problems regarding the festival. President of the Professional Associations Council Zuheir Abu Fares said that the council hasn’t called for boycotting of the festival buy is very concerned with some of the participants:

In the statement, the council referred to the participation of Cheb Khaled, who it said “performed with a Zionist singer in 2002 in Rome in the presence of the Zionist Prime Minister Shimon Peres at a time when massacres were being committed in [the West Bank town of] Jenin”.

The council also referred to the participation of artist Mika, who it said is suspected to be a homosexual and an advocate of homosexuality, in addition to “the fact that he even sang along with Zionists”. [source]


A French marketing group that didn’t organize Israel’s 60th anniversary celebrations.

An Algerian singer who sang with an Israeli in the presence of another Israel.

And a Lebanese guy who’s probably gay.

What’s next, attacking an artist whose grandfather may or may not have at one time drank a cup of coffee in a cafe where a Jewish traveler was passing by at the time? I mean, heck, if I was going to lead a boycott of this festival it would probably be over the fact that Mika has created some of the most annoying songs in history, and not because he’s possibly gay.

Oh. And if you thought this couldn’t get any sillier, you were sadly mistaken.

As Farah pointed out, 12 members of Parliament demanded that the Jordan Festival be canceled all together because of the “economic and financial circumstances” that the average Jordanian is going through. This is a demonstration of how our MPs care about the average Jordanian, and are concerned with alleviating the financial hardships he or she faces in this day and age.

The very next day, they gave themselves a raise.


I feel sick to my stomach.


  • Great points.

    Seriously, what is the big deal even if Publicis is running the show??!!
    Publicis organises the World Economic Forum , and the Petra Nobel Winners conference …among other events…We in Jordan are good friends with Maurice Levy who often visits Jordan…he even moderated some the World Economic Forum sessions…and nobody demanded a boycott of that event.

    Then, you have the Cheb Khaled boycott based on a concert in 2002 attended by Peres. Well, we just hosted president Peres a couple of weeks ago for t (Noble winners) conference, and he was pictured exchanging pleasantries with his majesty and the Queen in a friendly atmosphere rarely seen among brothers…

    Speaking of brothers, and you know me, I am not a the conspiracy theory type…
    But couldn’t this whole Jerash to Jordan festival switch, (along with the counter campaign)
    be a part of the Queen Noor marginalisation campiagn….
    after all her majesty’s name is synonymous with Jerash festival
    (think Noor al-Hussein foundation …now known as…al-Hussein foundation)
    either way …

    What a great cause for all Jordanians to rally around ….
    and it is all for you…oh prophet of god (illa rasool alllah)

  • Ouch. In the Bean household, we’ve been talking about our dismay over the politicization of the Jerash (now Jordan) festival. What a shame. And now this… We weren’t particularly planning to attend the events anyway, but still. Maybe next year we can organize a festival that has fun and events appropriate for kids as well as singers of renown in the region :). Let’s call it the Festival. Leave off locations and other controversial titles. Teehee. Like you, I’m often sick to my stomach.

  • Musa: “be a part of the Queen Noor marginalisation campiagn….” anything’s possible

    MommaBean: you’re right. they tend to forget kids when it comes to these things. the focus is on 20-something year olds and older family-types who drag their kids to these events that bore them to death.

  • Nope I haven’t heard of any of this! Where I am people still refer to is as “mahrajan jerash”.

    I don’t care about Elissa, but if fadel shakir is out then we have a problem!

  • Publicise Graphics is an advertising agency which has 10 offices in the region including Amman, tehran, Jeddah and cairo. The main regional office is in Birut. It is not organizing but responsible for PR. It is also responsible for Zein media cmapaign and many other events. However, levy is really a pro-Israel in a very provocative way. Look at this YouTube interview

    The lack of proper information and the inadequacy of the festival organizers to research the background of the comapny-which DID take responsibility for Israel’s celebrations media campaign- was a main cause of the problem. AS for the anti-normalizers thay are always parasites who will jeopradize the image of Jordan for theor own ideological causes. It is really an insult to use when a saye3 like Amre Diab is teaching us patriotism! Damn.

  • I must say that Jerash festival never ignored children…. and there was always puppets theatre and children’s theatre that was of very high standard of production… which was very sweet… But seriously, kol shy wala za3al ellissa!! LOOL! coz if it reached that point, it is then Kadiet sha3eb!! LOL

    Nas your assumption of Jordan Artists Association being marginalized and thus made all this big issue… is something i feel is to high extent possible… unfortonately whenever an entity or someone is ignored in the process of a big event that could be successful they start crisizing it and trying to make it fail… instead of encouraging it…. I’m personally not so impressed by the program nor the artists in the Festival to say the least…. but at the end of the day… who cares what i think… probably the demand market will prove my artistic taste doesnt flow with the majority! or i’m out of their target segment to start with!

  • Batir: I dont think that if Amr Diab is a singer it means he’s Saye3 or lacks ideals!! This is a judgement i cant agree with. He took a stand in the issue, but didnt try to teach anyone anything as far as i know!

  • If the lawyers just consider doing anything about the judicial system, say lessen waiting ruling period from a decade time to a year.

    If the pharmacists stop using doctor bribery to get their company’s products selling well would be much beneficial than claiming dignity.

    If the engineers would do something about all the defects in the whole building codes and start backing up energy less consuming designs.

    If the journalists just focus on having clean elections and receiving votes less or equal to members total and not more! before advocating for liberty and democracy.

    if artists and writers just amuse us with their works rather than advocating about others works.

    if all pan arab societies, and groups focus on getting some real arab cooperation rather than blaming Israel for everything.

    if the MPs start to act like ones..

    To hell with them all, I want to attend all events just to prove that this is not a “Jordanian Aspiration Agreed upon thing” -Athlajat sodoor jmee3 al ordinion- and stop using the word Israel to hide rooted deficiencies and lack of valued importance.

  • *clapping* bravo Nasser! This is the best I have read to you! The boycott campaign started getting on my nerves! I really hate how do some people really work on something that can do such damage!

    I hope that there are liable contracts between the government and the singers so that to hold them accountable to an approporiate fee if they ever back down. I personally will boycott those singers who would boycott the Jordan Festival.

  • Before I go on my rant I would like to emphasize that it is really unfortunate that these accusations of normalization have been levied unjustly, it seems, on the Festival (whatever people want to call it). The issue is that it is actually a very serious accusation to be associated with Zionists and organizations that support the Zionist plan, and people should try their best not to have such a label stuck to them, because it is a source of immense shame to them if they are.

    Its not just this instant but when anyone talks about “the boycott”, or “anti-normalization” they are ridiculed and ran out the door, this is the danger here, not whether the Jordan festival was organized by publicies or not…..the government has been able to ridicule any such initiatives because, unfortunately , the incompetence of the opposition and the professional associations damaged this cause beyond repair at least in Jordan

    Batir….Saya3a is when someone knows that a lowlife like Levy has a hand in anything and they still choose to partake in that thing whether it is an event an Ad campaign or whatever, this is pure saya3a, and yes, if they do not think this is an issue then they need someone like Amr Diab to teach them patriotism and a lot of other things such as dignity.

    and thanks to Mr AL Sholi who eloquently demonstrates my concerns

    true Israel is not responsible for the issues you mentioned, but Israel was, IS and will continue to occupy Palestine, they will continue to posses nuclear weapons, causing environmental and political instability in the region, they will continue to take a big chunk of Jordan’s share of water resources (so does Syria) they will continue to kill civilians destroy homes and insult Arabs ……, a short time ago i was criticized on this blog for suggesting that we should prioritize our issues and I was told that there is no right time for a just cause ( we were discussing gay rights in Jordan at the time) the question is have we any dignity to refuse to normalize with such an entity? are any of these causes just in our view? why dont we rise up and tackle them? why dont people practice what they preach?
    Looking at it from the narrow angle, are you OK with the fact that Israel still holds Jordanians captive without legal justification? and still takes more than its fair share from the water resources? Is peace worth more to us than our country’s strategic and national interest?

    This new record that the “MODERN YOUNG AIRAB” is playing today (aka being brainwashed)..”oh don’t blame Israel for all of our problems” does not just makes me totally clears my intestines.
    Israel is here precisely for that purpose ….it has been propped up for so long for exactly that purpose, to act as the American agent in the region, and it will continue to do so until that agent is not necessary anymore…..

    So I agree with most of you that it is sickening to throw accusations around about the crime of normalization but I disagree with most of you as well about the fact that this is not a serious issue.

  • I understand your concern about the country’s greater good brought by such an event! But then again, don’t you think that there is a legitimate this time?! Especially when it involves partners and participants that haven’t yet signed peace treaties with Israel?

    So, if the issue is about the “Organizing Firm” then why not to find another one!? If this is a “Country’s Festival” why can’t it be a joint effort between all Jordanians who want to help?! If the Artists Association is incompetent to launch such an event then why not train them to be so?! I mean come on….. A company owned by someone called Levy is going to be cheaper than the Lebanese trainers or supervisors? The Jordanian government has to change its attitude toward such concerns! If the majority wants something, then work on it before the whole thing becomes a disaster and end up like another Jordanian restaurant on a tourist’s attraction spot!

    It is only at those times when the Jordanian government can work on its relationship with people, when it would take the practical effort to prove to the people that it’s out there for them, for their concerns and for their happiness, playing the big brother rule all the time is getting old and boring!

  • Amr Diab, Elissa and Mohammad Hamaqi ( im not sure about him) have their contracts with Rotana, so Publicis should have had a contract with Rotana at some point since they announced them coming as they are organizing Jordan Festival, and you never know what could have happened between those two, maybe Rotana asked for more, maybe Publicis didnt want to pay as much. but an artist doesnt really have so much to say when it comes to scheduled shows and what album to sing on stage. this is work. preserving the tradition of Jerash festival should be the ministry’s job in their criteria when they decided to delegate the management to Publicis. but so far, if those artists refused to come to the event, i think its their loss and maybe they will have have to pay publicis but what i know is that all tickets to all shows are sold out.

  • It would be fascinating if this really was a conspiracy of some sort. How fun would that be?! The scheming. The intrigue. The who done it? Off with their heads…..

    Alas… no one in that circus in that creative!

    Sadly I think this is merely the result of the stupidity of the organizers, Min of Culture, Min of Tourism, JTB, the local press, and a whole slew of dumbass people with shitty communication skills and more than a bit of laziness when it comes to events that touch the public. And the choice of Jordan Festival for branding – is that lame or is that really lame? The plan changed, someone forgot to communicate and enroll the community. People felt left out, they got grumpy, found something to latch on to. The end.

    And all these people in opposition – where the hell have they been over the years? In frigging hibernation waiting to lunge out like this? What have they been doing? What have they been creating? What amazing experiences have they been developing? How many people’s lives have they been touching?! Who the hell gave them the right to piss in my Cherios?!

    The only losers in this baseless stunt are the artists whose gigs get canceled, and the vendors providing event support, and the audiences hungry for experiences.

  • Putting the words “Israel” and “normalization” in the same sentence tend to push the average Jordanian into a state of trance of which no logical explanation can ever break him of.

    Cool! I’ll have to try it sometime soon: while the Jordanians are in their trance, I’ll be able to pick their pockets! Oh, but it looks like the Jordanian Parliament beat me to it…

  • “Cool! I’ll have to try it sometime soon: while the Jordanians are in their trance, I’ll be able to pick their pockets! Oh, but it looks like the Jordanian Parliament beat me to it…”.. interesting stuff you’re stating Mr. Solomon2, but i wouldn’t think you’d wanna be worse than the Jordanian gov!! leave the average Jordanian alone.. go pick on your own!!

  • What I’m concerned about is how could a very popular festival like Jerash suddenly fails after 25 years of success, it the solution to change the name and to add one more location?

    What’s the point of going all the way to Jerash to see a singer that can perform the same concert in any other location inside Amman?

  • Thanks for the very interesting post! I could only think of one word reading through: Hypocrisy!
    I wish people who have responsibility here would take it seriously and focus on the important..
    And a little wish in your direction when talking about the ‘average Jordanian’ in “push the average Jordanian into a state of trance of which no logical explanation can ever break him of.” Not to forget the other half of the population as in “or her” says my feminist tainted mind 🙂

  • Don’t those idiots have better issues to be concerned with, what happened to the Government failure to support the Gas, Electricty, Water bills, bad road structures, poverty, unemployment, environment, corruption that is everywhere….and the list goes on….

    Focus People!

  • Hey Nas,
    Don’t mean to leech (in the dictionary-defined sense of the word, not the internet sense) on your space…
    But I thought you may be interested in this story.
    I would have emailed you the link, but I don’t think our virtual relationship has reached the point of exchanging emails quite yet.
    Please feel free to delete this comment.

    The article talks about the lawsuit filed by Princess Alia bint al-Hussein’s husband against the company that supplies American military forces in Iraq with fuel through Jordan.

    “Mr Al-Saleh’s suit says he essentially brokered Sargeant’s contract by arranging the approval and cooperation of the Jordanian government, using his “connections and influence.” The lawsuit alleges that Al-Saleh arranged for the Jordanian government “to issue a letter of authorization to IOTC.” Al-Saleh’s lawyer, Jonathan Frank, said, “Were it not for my client, they would not have been able to get that letter.””

    This is just hilarious because it could be the first time in history where someone files a lawsuits in which he shamelessly admits to some sort of corruption (errrr…connections and influence) in the process.

    Either way, the congress has opened an investigation in the case, but the MSNBC story contains other gems like:

    “Although Jordan is not an oil-producing country,…, the Pentagon had insisted that fuel be brought in through Jordan.”
    I can think of at 20 reasons for that…none of which make sense.

    “Al-Saleh says he also arranged a deal with a company owned by the Jordanian Army which ensured that oil could be offloaded at a Jordanian port ‘without interference, bureaucratic or otherwise.’ So in essence a Jordanian Army-owned company was operating as a subcontractor in the IOTC deal.”
    And I always thought that the Jordanian Arab Army was a burden on the country’s resources. It is good to know that it does serve a purpose after all.

  • Well, ..

    Al that can be said was already said. However, it feels like Jordanians thrive on rumors. The lack of transparency by our government is the main cause of all problems, including the deliberate undermining of the Jordan Festival. What we need, and I keep typing this everywhere, is real TRANSPARENCY and implementation of our CONSTITUTION.

    I kindly ask the government to assume we are educated creatures who belong to the human race, and initiate proper communications with us.

    Until then,

    Shake well before consumption.

  • Markus,

    my point was that we have to stop defining ourselves as the anti israelis.

    Israel in my own opinion will be defeated and thrown to the meditranean. Thats not the question, its why, how, and when which we all as arabs have endless opinions and schools of thought in that regard.
    The problem is exclusiveness and the labels that all anti-something bodies have like a giveaway for every different opinion.

    When a french company owned by a zionist runs a certain role in organizing a Jordanian festival: 1.Dumbness of government that does not take majority’s feel into consideration.
    2.An easily irritated public that wants to demonstrate something they are not sure what is exactly.

    The government holds responsibility for a bad choice and thats a result of many reasons we discuss day and night (corruption, legitimacy, poor parliment, elections, parties,…etc) but no excuse to those who turn for self destruction mode just for a counter attack.. between this and that, the country fails on all levels.

    If we are not aware on how things had changed from the early settlements of foriegn jews in Palestine (almost 120 years ago), and having no strategy but the counter/reflex/anti one then we have nothing to pass to next generations, to go for another 100 years or maybe 200 to get Palestine back. We are only declining more and more.

  • Al Sholi,

    As I have already indicated, I was discussing the taboo of anti-normalization in Jordan, and I am not with the fiasco around the Festival. I am sorry to deviate from the topic of Nas’s post but I have seen that people in Jordan do not view Normalization as an important issue in Jordan , and this is my concern and, again, Ahmed, you emphasize my point.

    With all due respect to your opinion about Jordanians, why do you treat the average Jordanian as a brainless individual ” who wants to demonstrate something they don’t know what is exactly” as you put it. I usually hear this from Zionist propaganda outlets how they believe in the herd mentality of the Arabs, it seems that if you call someone something long enough they will believe it….

    As for not being anti-Israel, It is up to you individually to stop defining yourself as anti-Israeli, and it is also up to you to try to encourage people to stop being anti -Israeli, I will hope you fail and i hope you fail miserably. As far as I am concerned I want no part in a country or a people that considers it ok to stand by and be neutral towards the atrocities being perpetrated in a neighboring country (Iraq, Palestine, Syria, Lebanon),this is not Tibet. Let me not even talk about people in Jordan who think Israel is a cute lil’ democracy, those people….. #$%^&* them.

    You start your post by declaring that Israel will be defeated and thrown into the sea, and then you complain about the exclusivity of anti-something-ness. well if your assuming that because I want justice for the Palestinians then I automatically will condone genocide of Israelis then your mistaken. Justice for one people does not have to mean injustice for another people (that’s the Israeli interpretation). The whole point of being anti-Israeli at this time is because of the fact that they have denied Palestinians justice, when and if they do the right thing then we can and we will live in peace. However what is happening now is that we are moving towards normalizing with a racist, fascist, murderous entity regardless of its people’s ideology or religion.Its really simple at a humanistic level

    Let me get your last point straight, your answer to reactionary Arab mentality is to normalize with Israel? Is that your exit strategy from this conflict. Is this what will stop your decline? Good Luck.

  • Markus,

    I never believed that we are a herd! We started this conversation respectfully and I wish to continue in that fashion. We do not need to accuse each other.

    When people gather around an idea they are not fully aware of, yes its a herd like. Be it us or anyone else. I urge you to get some opinions from boycotting people and be entertained with reasons (some think that PRO4 -the jordanian DJs- are representing the israeli company, whereas no Israeli company is there. another misconception between Jews, Israelis, and zionists.

    the boycotting people do not represent the entire jordanians and I am the one to come out of no where, some events were sold out, others with moderate demand, and others got cancelled.

    I do not think that palestine is tibet, am palestinian myself and most of my family reside there either in 1948 Palestine or 1967 Palestine. And yes opinions of peace and normalization are just as much as the militias members or supporters thereof.

    I see failure patterns between Syria, Hizbullah, Hammas, and the unions included. Advocacy and speech while acts are just paragmatic. If they oppose the other half opinions they are heros, if others oppose them they are zionists.

    I think we will be extinct in the coming 50 years if continue to act like this. What do they have to pass to the next generations other than the boycot? who is giving the criteria of applicable boycot? almost every dominant company in any industry is an imperial or zionist? what do you have to do about that? whats the exception there? who says what to do? the answers are the highest decimal vocal start issuing the mandates, he said lets fight Israel, we have to follow…

    I believe that we are deeply ruined in almost every aspect of our lives, we need to work on the rebuild and prosperity for the coming 50 years at least before considering anything. If that is through peace and normalization with Israel, so be it. Then if we are that confident, why are we so afraid to open up and absorb? while radiants of knowledge are not really flowing from our part of the world and yet fixed on closing.

    You wish me to fail in my attempt, I respect your opinion.
    Can’t wish you the same… you already did!

  • AL Sholi , I have one thing to say to you…Palestinians will never be extinct, never, not in a million years….and you my friend are the one who has failed his people

  • Markus,

    thank you for the label..
    Am supposed to accept that am a traitor now..

    who fails to evolve, extincts..
    who sustains, preserves..

  • well, I think in jordan we tend to make a big issues out of nothing at all, when rumors are created, it just gets bigger and bigger and people buys in, especially if the talks is about isreal, as I said in my blog and you did too, boycutting anything related to isreal is some sort of a victory even if it was just bluffings.

    I wonder if the jordanian artists association had any evidence before it ruined the whole thing by telling everyone to boycutt the festival, I personally think it should apologise for the whole thing and le the festival be, its pretty disturbing to watch the festival get killed before it was even born, and the murderes are jordanians themselves…

  • Al Sholi, im not labeling you, and dont put words in my mouth i didnt call anyone a traitor. However you predict that the Palestinians will be extinct in 50 years, you wish….in your dreams maybe. They are sustaining and they will evolve, they dont need people who predict their extinction in 50 years. Just like Jordan doesnt need people who puts words in people’s mouths….

  • Markus,

    I definately don’t wish palestinians or arabs to extinct, I am one of those, and a very proud one of my arab roots.

    When saying that anyone had let his people down, in other words he is a traitor. Nevertheless, it doesn’t matter what we think of each other as individuals. In addition, who lets his people down, is someone with a level of importance to his people and thats not in my case. But I do represent a segmant of the arab world, that you can not deny.

    I base my conclusion on history by observing conflicts and their ends, the strategists always won their case.

    On a social, economic, cultural, scientific level: If you can not really realize that we are in a very bad shape and need to change our reality, there is nothing to discuss here.

  • One of the best posts I’ve read in a while. I couldn’t stop laughing at this:

    What’s next, attacking an artist whose grandfather may or may not have at one time drank a cup of coffee in a cafe where a Jewish traveler was passing by at the time?

    You are a legend.

  • AL Sholi, you talk like you are the all knowing person who studies and strategiesez while i read Mad Magazine and get my ideas from there, stop your self rightous attitude man, come down to earth .
    The other thing is that you are a very important person, each and every one of us has a duty towards our country and our people, it is not up to one important person to change a countries future, your beliefs and actions along with all of the citizens of the world, will determine our future.

    Finally I urge you to look up the meaning of traitor in a dictionary I will not let you pass this by me, I did not call you traitor and I will not let you put words in my mouth.

  • Markus,

    I am sorry for this whole discussion.

    You didn’t call me a traitor, I exaggerated.

  • why do you so hate israel?!
    and i thinked that jorden and israel is peace…..
    mika is not moslem mika he is Christian !
    and what his opinion about the problem whit isarel ??

Your Two Piasters: