The Shmooze

Shakira To Speak at Israeli Presidential Conference

By Nathan Burstein

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Pop star Shakira is on her way to Jerusalem — not to perform, but to speak about childhood education at a summit organized by Israeli President Shimon Peres.

The “Hips Don’t Lie” singer will participate in the Israeli Presidential Conference this month with an eclectic set of guests, who range from Dr. Ruth and Sarah Silverman to Nobel Prize winners Israel Aumann and Eric Maskin.

A goodwill ambassador for UNICEF, the Colombian singer has family ties to the region: she was born Shakira Isabel Mebarak Ripoll, and comes partly from Lebanese Christian roots. She has regularly incorporated Middle Eastern sounds and even a bit of Arabic into her performances, and she knows a thing or two about belly dancing. Shakira has made childhood education a focus of her charity, the Barefoot Foundation.

Israeli newspaper Ma’ariv reports that she’ll attend the conference with her boyfriend, Barcelona soccer star Gerard Pique, in a move that will draw further attention to the visit.

Running June 21 to 23, the Presidential Conference covers a variety of topics, and will feature appearances by leaders in a variety of fields. Other participants will include Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales and former U.S. Treasury Secretary Larry Summers.

One of the more interesting encounters will likely take place at the economic plenary session, which will feature two candidates in the race to lead the International Monetary Fund: Israel Bank director Stanley Fischer and his favored rival, French finance minister Christine Lagarde.


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