Ambassadors, distinguished delegates, ladies and gentleman: It is an honor to welcome all of you to the United Nations this evening for this historic concert.
First and foremost, I would like to thank the Secretary-General and Mrs. Ban for being here this evening. Secretary Ban may be soft-spoken, but he always manages to make his voice heard across the globe. I'd also like to thank the President of the General Assembly for joining us tonight. He is both a personal friend and a real leader. Gentlemen, as the conductors of the United Nations' 193-piece orchestra, you know first-hand that the music of this room isn't always harmonious. Tonight, our Mission hopes to change that.
And ladies and gentlemen, I'd also like to thank each and every one of you – because, tonight, you are helping me fulfil a lifelong dream. I always hoped that I would one day be the opening act for Rita at a major venue in New York City. Although, I'll admit, I never expected that it would be in the form of the Three Tenors: "Ban, Prosor, and Jeremic."
Many people are quite surprised to hear that I have a musical background. For a brief time, I was a member of an acapella group for Israeli ambassadors. We called ourselves "the Camp David 'A' Chords." These days, however, I spend far more time composing letters to the Security Council than I do composing music. Nonetheless, there are still days when people on the street mistake me for Pavarotti. I assume that it's because of my tenor voice, and not my size!
Now, as I'm sure you're all aware, traditional UN protocol calls for polite conversation, subdued discussion, and keeping the decibel level to a bare minimum. Tonight, you can forget all of those rules. Tonight, I encourage you to get up on your feet and sing along – as Rita's powerful melodies and nine-piece band shake this room to its very foundations.
Our goal is to weave a tapestry of music as rich and diverse as the United Nations itself. Tonight, you will hear songs in three languages: Hebrew, Persian, and English. You will hear some of Rita's wildest Israeli dance hits, as well as beautiful love songs based on Rita's childhood in Iran.
Rita's enduring popularity from Tel Aviv to Tehran shows how music can transcend cultural boundaries. It demonstrates that melody, rhythm, and harmony have the power to connect people to people, even in the most difficult of circumstances.
It is our sincere hope that this musical evening will echo from New York to the hearts and minds of people throughout Israel and Iran – fostering better relations, understanding, and communication between our two peoples.
Last but not least, I'd like to thank the people who made this vision a reality tonight: our platinum sponsor, the Nazarian Family Foundation, our gold sponsor, the Iranian-American Jewish Federation of New York—especially to Shahram Yaghoubzadeh—and our silver sponsor, the United Jewish Appeal. I'd also like to thank Iranian-American Jewish Federation of Los Angeles, as well as the UN Department of Information, for helping us organize this event. Your support serves as the amplifier for our music and our message tonight.
Thank you very much. And now, ladies and gentlemen, prepare yourselves for the most unique "presentation" that you may ever see on the UN General Assembly stage – Rita! Let's rock the house!