Aaaaand…here’s the Semite of the Day, in honor of Eurovision: Sharon Cohen, known professionally as Dana International.
Born in Tel Aviv, to a Jewish family with Yemeni and Romanian roots, came out as a trans woman at thirteen, and won the 1998 Eurovision.
To those who had opposed her representing Israel at the event, she said afterward:
“My victory proves God is on my side. I want to send my critics a message of forgiveness and say to them: try to accept me and the kind of life I lead. I am what I am and this does not mean I don’t believe in God, and I am part of the Jewish nation.”
Strong, brave, talented, gutsy, and absolutely beautiful.
Interviewer:Are you the next Dana International? Will you be added to the list of winning divas?
Conchita Wurst:To clarify to everyone: Dana is no drag-artist, she’s a woman! And that’s the difference with me. I’m acting out a character, but to be born in the wrong body is a more serious ordeal and it’s not comparable to my art. Dana is big, big personality and I think she really had to fight throughout her past. I really don’t know if I can be part of the winner’s list sometimes.
Even considering the various joint social and cultural achievements of Ashkenazi and Mizrahi Jews in Israel, Israeli society has largely remained deeply divided. The intense stigmatisation of Arab culture and the Arabic language, as well as developments that have forced Arab Jews to adopt Hebrew as their language reflect in many ways the story of my life. In a world where xenophobia is all the rage, the road to self-realisation has been a difficult and emotional one. During my life, I have not only suffered identity crises, but have also had to deal with loyalty issues. I began to live for myself, and became immune to the fear brought on by my environment; I simply could not afford to, any longer.