The popular Israeli Hebrew newspaper “Yediot Aharonot” published in its “7 Days” weekend supplement of January 20, 2012 an article on LC, spread over four large pages, including old and current photographs, and titled “I speak Hebrew with God”. The journalist, Lior Zilbershtine, took part in the Paris pre-listening with the press on January 16, the recording of which was made available to us by Maarten, here:viewtopic.php?f=55&t=31274&p=295237&hilit=Paris&sid=5a704e98469e07793d5b7212728bf02c#p295237
In her article Zilbershtine quotes several answers that LC gave in that session to the journalists’ questions, including those she asked herself (below). She describes herself as an old-time fan, who grew up with LC’s work, and writes that her knees were trembling when she realized that she was going to meet him face to face for the first time.
The following questions and answers are transcribed from the recording of the session (and checked against the newspaper article, in which they are translated into Hebrew):
Q: Shalom, I am Lior Zilbershtine from Israel, from Yediot Aharonot. I would like to ask you about your last visit to Israel, because I know that every concert of yours everybody said it was magic, but the crowd and the critics all said that something very special happened during your last concert in Israel. I just wanted to know: did you feel the same way, and I would also like to ask, because I know you had a lot of pressure before that concert; how did you respond to all those people who were calling on you to boycott Israel and all that. Thank you.
A: I don’t believe in the boycott of artistic expression; I think it is one of the last hopes for communication. I understand the position of the boycotters, I understand it very well. But we tried to make a statement which was that there is a possibility of communication between people. We established a fund, we donated all the proceeds for that concert and they were considerable because there were 50,000 people there. There were Palestinians in the audience; we took a great effort to bring Palestinians into the concert, and we established a fund that would sponsor grassroots activities that would in some way encourage some kind of communication between the two communities. I know it’s hopeless, I know it’s irrelevant, I know in many minds it is more than irrelevant, but nevertheless one feels that one would like to do something and that’s what we did.
Q: How was the concert for you?
A: The concert itself was glorious, memorable.
Q: Is there something special for you about a concert taking place in Israel?
A: I don’t like to signify; I think, I speak for all our musicians: we don’t take any concert casually, but for me to be able to give the ancient Priestly Benediction at the end of the concert to the people who originated this expression, that was of great significance to me.
Zilbershtine also writes that LC’s manager told her with a smile that the concert in Israel was one of the most difficult to produce, but also that the next morning LC called him and said happily: “Let’s do it again!”.
She ends her article as follows [in my translation]:
Towards the end of the session I get close to Cohen and manage to steal a few more moments [with him]. When he asks my name, I hasten to translate the meaning of the name into English, but suddenly I remember: “Wait a minute, you speak Hebrew, don’t you?” “Yes, with God”, he answers in English, and smiles a big smile.