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Israel Plans UN Concert by Iranian-Born Singer Rita, March 5 Showdown

By Matthew Russell Lee, Exclusive

UNITED NATIONS, February 1 -- With the UN on edge over Israel's air strike on Syria and possible reactions not only from Damascus but Tehran, Inner City Press has learned of a planned Israeli-sponsored concert slated for March 5, by Iranian-born singer Rita Jahanforuz.

   The concert, sources tell Inner City Press, has already occasioned controversy in the UN. The concerns only grew when the Viva Vox choir, invited to perform a concert at the UN by General Assembly President Vuk Jeremic, ended with the controversial song "March on the Drina."

   Then, Inner City Press asked Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's spokesman Martin Nesirky if the Secretariat had provided any financial support. The first day the answer was "no." The next day at least $26,000 for "technical support" was disclosed.

   Sources tell Inner City Press that while the UN Department of Public Information will now assist with Israel's Rita concert, initially it was suggested to the Israeli Mission that they try for sponsorship from UNESCO.

  While some laughed at this -- since Palestine was voted in as a member of UNESCO, the US cut its funding -- others saw it as potentially savvy, a way for UNESCO to change its image.

  Be that as it may, the concert is now slated with some DPI support for March 5; preparation and coordination meetings have begun.

  It would be difficult to postpone it, as the General Assembly Hall where it is to be held will be closing down in April for renovation.

  How will Iran, Syria and others react?

  And what of the UN Department of Public Information? There are a number of questions pending there, some for as long as two weeks, from Inner City Press and the new Free UN Coalition for Access. We will report all answers. Watch this site.

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