Israeli singer Liraz Charhi, whose song "Zan Bezan" was turned into an Iranian protest anthem, secretly collaborated with Iranian artists in Istanbul on her latest album "Roya". The album challenges the regime in Tehran, which forbids cooperation between Israelis and Iranians.
Namely, in an Istanbul basement hidden from view, Israeli singer Liraz Charhi gathered her collaborators from Tel Aviv and musicians from Tehran to secretly create her third album. It was a risky project for four musicians from Iran.
Since the Islamic Revolution of 1979, the Iranian regime has considered Israel an enemy state. Traveling to Israel or cooperating with Israelis is strictly prohibited and subject to punishment in Iran. "It was a bit like being on a secret mission for almost a year.
We knew it was dangerous, but we had agreed not to talk about it," Charhi told FRANCE 24. "But as soon as we met, fear turned into joy and the dream became reality during the ten days of recording...it was magic." Iranian violin and tar players contributed, via the Internet, to Charhi's second album.
But this was the first time they were in the same room with their Israeli counterparts in Turkey, one of the few countries where Iranians could enter without a visa.
Born to Iranian parents
"I found out I had family there and that's when I fell in love with Iranian culture and started to explore this heritage...I had this need for Iran, I can't explain it," said Charhi, who knew almost nothing about the country of her ancestors at that time.
"She wonders whether she is Israeli or Iranian, or both. This is the dilemma of my character, and this is the story of my life," Charhi told French daily, Le Monde in 2020. In order to guarantee their anonymity and safety, their names do not appear on the album cover and their faces are blurred in all promotional photos and videos.
Similar precautions were taken during a concert at a synagogue in Krakow, Poland, last summer, when Iranian musicians appeared in disguise for a performance.