Songs, lyrics of Israeli performer used in Iranian protests against Islamic regime
Despite risks, Iranian musicians have worked with Liraz Charhi – star of "Tehran" – on three albums since 2018
Iranian protesters are using the songs of Israeli actress, singer-songwriter Liraz Charhi in their rallies and videos against the Islamic Republic: “Until when will we be silent, until when will we keep our head down?”
While Charhi stars as a Mossad spy in the Israeli TV series “Tehran,” she continues to build up her musical repertoire among Iranians. Though artistic cooperation with Israel or Israeli citizens is a punishable offense in Iran, Charhi has collaborated with Iranian artists on three albums since 2018.
Charhi’s first two albums feature the contributions of anonymous Iranian musicians, who recorded their parts remotely. The first, “Naz,” would become popular among the Iranian people after its release in 2018.
“Very quickly I received videos of women dancing in underground parties, and removing their chador [a Muslim-culture cloth that covers the head and upper body] and dancing to these songs,” Charhi told Israel’s Channel 12.
For her most recent album, “Roya” – which means “fantasy” in Persian – the Israeli artist met with four Iranian musicians in Istanbul earlier this year, the first time collaborating in person. Turkey is one of the few countries that Iranians can travel to without a visa.
The artists went to Istanbul on the condition that they would not have their names or characteristics made public, but the meeting was significant both for them and for Charhi.
“I waited all my life to meet my friends and family from Iran; the fact that you weren’t afraid and were brave is … wow,” Charhi said upon the musicians’ arrival.
Speaking anonymously with Channel 12, the Iranian musicians said that they were willing to take the risk of making music with an Israeli artist.
“We know that Iran has a problem with Israel … but if we only make music, it’s OK,” one musician told Channel 12. “I know that might be dangerous, but I do what I love.”
Protesters in Iran have been sending Charhi messages of support and admiration since the outbreak of the protests against the regime.
“Thank you for being our voice; I will never be forgotten,” states one message sent to her on social media.
“I love your songs in Persian and hope that one day you will sing in beautiful Tehran,” another Iranian wrote.
Over the summer, Charhi performed at Janusz Makuch’s Jewish Culture Festival in Krakow, Poland, together with the Iranian artists. Born in Poland, Makuch has been organizing the festival for Jewish culture since 1988 – a practical answer to the question he posed last week to The Jerusalem Post's Alan Rosenbaum: “How can we – Jews and non-Jews alike – commemorate Jewish life here?” The Jewish Culture Festival took place this year for the 31st time.
Charhi’s collective performed at the Old Synagogue in Krakow, with the Iranian artists masked under golden hijabs during the performance to hide their identities. Despite wearing the hijabs, one of the musicians reportedly insisted on showing her hair and was later recognized and outed in Iran for performing with Charhi, Channel 12 said.
The anti-regime protests in Iran have been ongoing for a month, spreading across Iran, even among schoolgirls who have led rallies in the streets and protested at their schools. According to the Oslo-based NGO Iran Human Rights, more than 200 Iranians have been killed in the protests, including 23 children.
“Some were killed instantly and some passed away from their injuries later,” the NGO stated on Oct. 12. “According to reports received by Iran Human Rights, many of the injured protesters were refused admission to hospitals and medical centers or were treated at home due to the fear of arrest.”
IHR said that, in addition to students, petrochemical and oil contract workers have joined “the nationwide strikes and protests.” The NGO stated receiving reports of mass arrests of protesters and activists, who have been identified by intelligence agencies.
“The use of torture and ill-treatment against protesters has been widely reported, with at least two deaths in custody,” IHR stated. “Families have told Iran Human Rights that their loved ones are under pressure to force televised confessions.”
The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.