The Wall Street Journal has a fantastic profile of Rita Jahanforuz, an Iranian-born Israeli singing sensation whose latest Persian-language album, “All My Joys,” is a big hit from Tel Aviv to Tehran:
Rita Jahanforuz, 50 years old, is Israel’s most famous female singer—and suddenly she’s big in Iran. Iranian-born and fluent in Persian, Rita, as she is universally known, moved to Israel as a child and has lived there ever since.[…]
Now, from nightclubs in Tel Aviv to secret underground parties in Tehran, Israelis and Iranians alike go wild when the DJ plays her hit “Beegharar,” or “Restless.” […]
Rita, however, with her striking beauty and bubbly demeanor, has emerged as an unexpected bond between ordinary Iranians and Israelis—part cultural ambassador, part antiwar spokeswoman. A picture of Rita with the banner, “Iranians we will never bomb your country,” is posted on her Facebook page.
The piece ends with this scene from Tehran:
In Tehran, guests at a recent engagement party jumped to their feet shimmying their hips and shoulders when Rita’s voice echoed from the speakers, mixing the rhythms of an old and uniquely southern Iranian song to techno dance beats. Even middle-age couples joined in.
“She is singing from her heart. So what if she is from Israel?” said Manijeh, a 43-year-old relative of the bride who asked that her surname not be published. “We love her.”
The Journal‘s Joshua Mitnick interviews Rita in the video above about her role as unofficial cultural ambassador between the two countries.