No Alexandra Burke, but supporters still party
Israeli singing sensation Ishtar had fans dancing at Wembley Arena during the Zionist Federation’s Yom Ha’atzmaut gala concert this week.
The pop star appeared with her band Alabina and was joined on stage by Latin band Chico and the Gypsies.
The acts headlined Tuesday evening’s event following the late withdrawal of X Factor winner Alexandra Burke.
Ms Burke, who performed at Jewish weddings with the Gilev Showband before her rise to fame in 2008, did not explain her reasons for pulling out, leading anti-Israel activists to claim the move was political. But it is understood she was also booked to appear at the filming of an ITV show on the same night.
ZF chairman Paul Charney said no explanation had been received from Ms Burke or her management. He expected the ZF to hold “frank discussions” with her representatives following the concert.
The ZF put the audience figure at 6,000, although others estimated around 2,800 people were at the 12,500-capacity arena. They heard Israeli ambassador to Britain Daniel Taub and JNF chairman Samuel Hayek praise Israel’s achievements over the past 65 years.
Video messages from Israeli president Shimon Peres and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu were shown before the audience was treated to a display of acrobatics by Britain’s Got Talent winners Spelbound.
Former X Factor contestant Stacey Solomon sang three songs. Vanessa Feltz hosted the event, introducing Uri Geller as her “special guest”.
There was a small anti-Israel protest outside the arena, made up largely of demonstrators from the strictly Orthodox, anti-Zionist Neturei Karta sect.
A hoax press release had been issued earlier on Tuesday claiming that Ishtar had pulled out of the gig citing security fears. It is not known who was responsible for the hoax.