A new recording by singer-musician Yusuf Islam, formerly known as Cat Stevens, to raise funds for the children of Gaza is angering an Israeli official who says all children — not just Palestinians — in the war-battered region should receive the same treatment.
"It is good Mr. Islam is interested in helping the children of Gaza," David Saranga, spokesman for the Consulate General of Israel in New York, said in a statement. "The children on the other side of the border should not be forgotten, as well, and it would have been nice for their situation to also be considered when Mr. Islam decided on the dedication of the song."
Along with former Beatles collaborator Klaus Voorman, the London-born Islam recorded his version of the late Beatle George Harrison's "The Day the World Gets 'Round." Islam said he will donate all proceeds from sales of the song to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, the U.N. agency in charge of Palestinian refugees, and the nonprofit group Save the Children.
According to his Web site, Islam hopes the song "will remind people of the immense legacy of love, peace and happiness we can share when we get round to looking at mankind's futile wars and prejudices and start to change our foolish ways."
But Saranga said Islam's intentions missed the mark.
"Children are children are children, regardless of where they live," Saranga's statement continued. "It is about time that someone saves the children of Gaza from their leaders, Hamas."
UNRWA Senior Liaison Officer Saahir Lone said the agency "strongly agrees" that Palestinian and Israeli children are both victims of the conflict. He did not say whether the agency approached Islam to record the song, or if the recording was Islam's idea. He also declined to say whether any other musicians were considered.
"And both deserve to be protected from its consequences," Lone said in a statement. "As UNRWA has responsibilities to assist the refugee population of Gaza, it seeks financial support and in that spirit has welcomed the proceeds from Yusuf Islam's song."
According to UNRWA officials, the agency provided refuge for more than 50,000 civilians in more than 50 shelters during the three-week Israeli offensive earlier this month.
Gaza officials have said 280 of the 1,285 Palestinians killed during the fighting were children, who make up 56 percent of Gaza's 1.4 million people.
Prior to converting to Islam and changing his name in 1977, Cat Stevens sold 60 million albums and had several hit songs, including "Wild World" and "Peace Train." Israeli authorities have barred Islam twice from entering the country due to his alleged ties to Hamas.
Islam also allegedly supported the Islamic edict calling for the death of author Salman Rushdie in 1989, although he claims his words were misinterpreted.
"I never called for the death of Salman Rushdie," Islam wrote on his Web site.
Islam, who was denied entry into the U.S. along with his daughter in 2004, returned to pop music in 2006 with the released "An Other Cup. He did not reply to requests for comment.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.