By Mick Krever, CNN
There is “no quarrel” between the Iranian and Israeli people, a pop star with a foot in both worlds told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour in an interview that aired Friday.
Rita Jahanforuz was born in Iran, but has been one of Israel's most popular singers for nearly three decades.
“You know, it's between the government or the leaders or something like that,” she said. “I'm very Iranian; and I'm very Israeli. And with my existence, I can show that everything can intertwine with each other, amazingly.”
She is known to her fans simply as "Rita," and took many of them by surprise when last year she released an album of songs sung entirely in her mother tongue, Farsi.
But far from being shunned by Israelis, it went gold in just three weeks – and in Iran, where western music is officially banned, Rita's album is reportedly quite popular.
She has gotten “a lot of amazing” emails from Iranians, she told Amanpour.
“The cutest one – he wrote me, ‘Rita, you know I want to see your concerts so much that even the punishment will be three years' jail and 70 whiplashes, I would still rather to try to come to your concert.’”
Rita left Iran when she was eight, and says she hopes one day she will be able to perform there.
“They say, ‘Throw your heart forward and go and fetch it.’”
Why, Amanpour asked, did Rita record an album of songs in Persian nearly three decades into her career?
“I felt suddenly that I have to record the soundtracks of my family life and my life,” she said.
“One of my first memories is my mother sitting on the carpet, you know, stretching her legs forward, placing a pillow on her legs and me on the pillow in front of her. She used to rock me, sing lullabies and you know, cleaning the rice – a multitask woman.”
So eventually, she felt, she “had to do it.”
She describes the album as an attempt to talk “people to people.”
“We're talking people to people,” she said. “There is a wall between us. And as much as we will make scratches and holes, little holes, we, the people…will be in charge on our lives and our destiny.”lives and our destiny.”