Capturing the Sounds of Sephardi Music

At the annual Pro Musica Hebraica concert last week, the Amernet String Quartert, along with the mezzo-soprano Rachel Calloway and the guitarist Adam Levin, performed a series of pieces based on traditional Jewish melodies with their roots in medieval Spain. Grace Jean writes in her review:

Because Spanish Jews preserved their culture through oral traditions, Sephardi music was rarely written down, but rather passed between generations through singing. The composer Alberto Hemsi (1898–1975) sought to capture the songs he heard in his travels, ultimately publishing ten volumes of melodies.

Inspired by Hemsi’s efforts, the composer Ljova (Lev Zhurbin) . . . arranged “Blanca Nina,” a suite of traditional songs and ballads. For this world premiere, Calloway sang with haunting presence while Amernet proved an equal partner in depicting a young woman’s life in Sephardi Spain.

Read more at Washington Post

More about: Arts & Culture, Jewish music, Music, Pro Musica Hebraica, Sephardim

Israel’s Retaliation against the Houthis Sends a Message to the U.S., and to Its Arab Allies

The drone that struck a Tel Aviv high-rise on Thursday night is believed to have traveled over 2,000 kilometers, flying from Yemen over Egypt and then above the Mediterranean before veering eastward toward the Israeli coast. Since October, the Houthis have launched over 200 drones at Israel. Nor is this the first attempt to strike Tel Aviv, only the first successful one. Noah Rothman observes that the Houthis’ persistent attacks on Israel and on international shipping are largely the result of the U.S.-led coalition’s anemic response:

Had the Biden administration taken a more proactive and vigorous approach to neutralizing the Houthis’ capabilities, Israel would not be obliged to expand to Yemen the theater of operations in the war Hamas inaugurated on October 7. The prospects of a regional war grow larger by the day, not because Israel cannot “take the win,” as President Biden reportedly told Benjamin Netanyahu following a full-scale direct Iranian attack on the Jewish state, but because hostile foreign actors are killing its citizens. Jerusalem is obliged to defend them and the sovereignty of Israel’s borders.

Biden’s hesitancy was fueled by his apprehension over the prospect of a “wider war” in the Middle East. But his hesitancy is what is going to give him the war he so cravenly sought to avoid.

In this context, the nature of the Israeli response is significant: rather than follow the American strategy of striking isolated weapons depots and the like, IDF jets struck the port city of Hodeida—the sort of major target the U.S. has shied away from. The mission was likely the furthest-ever carried out by the Israel Air Force, hitting a site 200 kilometers further from Israel than Tehran. Yoel Guzansky and Ilan Zalayat comment:

The message that Israel sent was intended to reach the moderate Arab countries, the West, and especially the United States. . . . The message to the coalition countries is that “the containment” had failed and the Houthis must be hit harder. The Hodeida port is the lifeline of the Houthi economy and continued damage to it will make it extremely difficult for this economy, which is also facing significant American sanctions.

Read more at National Review

More about: Houthis, Israeli Security, U.S. Foreign policy