Israeli-Iranian Singer Rita Turns UN Into Mosh Pit [PHOTOS]

By @MayaErgas on
  • Mark Eliyahu, special addition to Rita's band
    Mark Eliyahu, a special guest and addition to Rita's band for the night, opened the concert with a solo on the Kamancheh, a Persian stringed instrument. IBTimes/Maya Shwayder
  • Rita takes the stage
    After speeches from Ban Ki-Moon, Vuk Jeremic, and Ron Prosor, Rita took the stage with her first song, "Shane," which means comb in Persian. IBTimes/Maya Shwayder
  • Rita and her band on the U.N. stage
    Rita's nine-piece band includes keyboard, bass and electric guitar, drums, percussion, clarinets, viola, and an accordion. IBTimes/Maya Shwayder
  • Jonathan Dror, member of Rita's band, on the Shofar
    Jonathan Dror, a member of Rita's band, played a solo on the shofar, a traditional Jewish instrument. IBTimes/Maya Shwayder
  • Rita, Ariel Alaev on accordion, and Galia Hai on viola
    Rita's music combines heavy influences from her Persian heritage with Western instruments and beats. IBTimes/Maya Shwayder
  • Rita on the U.N. stage
    Rita, nee Yahan-Farouz, was born in Tehran and moved to Israel with her family when she was seven. IBTimes/Maya Shwayder
  • Jonathan Dror, Rita, and Zvika Alaev
    Rita and her band showed their many talents by both singing and dancing, and encouraging the audience to do the same. IBTimes/Maya Shwayder
  • Rita and her band dance in the U.N. General Assembly Hall
    The concert featured songs in both Hebrew and Persian, and one in English called "Time For Peace." IBTimes/Maya Shwayder
  • Dancing in the aisles at the UN
    The crowd did not stay in their seats, instead forming a mosh pit of sorts including Israelis, Iranians, and UN diplomats. IBTimes/Maya Shwayder
  • Rita and the U.N.
    Rita has released 12 studio albums, five of which went platinum. IBTimes/Maya Shwayder
  • Zvika Alaev and his father Ariel Alaev, members of Rita's band
    Zvika Alaev and his father Ariel Alaev were featured dancers with Rita. IBTimes/Maya Shwayder
  • Rita dances for the crowd
    Rita also showed off her acrobatic skills. IBTimes/Maya Shwayder
  • Rita in front of the U.N. globe
    Rita represented Israel in the 1990 Eurovision singing contest. Israel placed 10th that year. IBTimes/Maya Shwayder
  • Rita and the U.N.
    "This concert is so electric that we're probably saving the UN thousands of dollars in heating bills," one official at the Israeli mission quipped. IBTimes/Maya Shwayder
  • Ambassador Ron Prosor and Rita
    Israel's ambassador to the UN Ron Prosor presented Rita with a bouquet at the end, to which she said, "You're a dreamer. Thank you for making this happen." IBTimes/Maya Shwayder
1 of 15

A mosh pit might be the last thing you'd expect to see on the floor of the U.N. General Assembly Hall, with its carefully combed green rug and immaculately polished marble daises. But on Tuesday night that's exactly what happened there, including dancing Israelis, gyrating Iranians and ecstatic U.N. statesmen, all allowing themselves to be moved by the infectious Middle Eastern beats of popular Iranian-born Israeli singer Rita.

It was meant to be a concert to “bring individuals – and nations – closer together,” as U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon said in his pre-show speech. Other pat lines about “weaving tapestries of music” and “music being an essential part of society” were heard from President of the Assembly Vuk Jeremić and Israeli Ambassador to the U.N. Ron Prosor, who also provided the startling revelation that he used to sing in an all-U.N. diplomat a cappella group. He unfortunately did not name who the other members were, or offer a sample of his talents.

After the diplomats finished their incantations and odes to the power of music to bring people together, Rita finally took to the stage, and there was much rejoicing. The 50-year-old singer looks 30, and was wearing a neutral-tone fringe dress whose tassels twirled, spun and nicely complimented her dance moves.

These songs are all about love, Rita said, taking a rare break between songs to speak in her high, pleasant voice. She recounted bits of her childhood in Tehran, when her mother’s singing “filled the house with music.

“Persian is a dramatic language,” Rita told the audience. “There is a word for every little feeling you can have. They say in Israel that I am dramatic. I say they haven’t met my mother!”

All in all, the event was about as apolitical as an Israeli-sponsored event at the U.N. could possibly get. Israel’s Mission to the U.N. tweeted it was “the liveliest Jewish event in the UNGA since November 29, 1947!,” referring to the day when the general assembly voted in favor of adopting a plan for the future government of what was then called Palestine, and recognized the right of Jews to have a state there.  

The Palestinian and Iranian missions were not present at the concert, not that anyone in the largely Hebrew-speaking, fur-wearing, diamond-sporting crowd minded. But individual Iranians were. 

Watch Rita's full performance at the U.N. WebTV site.

Join the Discussion