How Kobi Oz Gave Israeli Music Its Middle Eastern Flavor

Nobody has had a greater influence on contemporary Israeli popular music, argues Matti Friedman, than Kobi Oz, who led the way in bringing North African and Middle Eastern sounds into the mainstream. Born to Tunisian parents in the working-class southern city of Sderot, then populated mostly by Moroccan Jews, Oz—together with his band, Teapacks—popularized a genre that Friedman terms the “spiritual equivalent of American country and Western music”:

[Teapacks’] first hit, [in 1992], was about a miracle-working charlatan, Rabbi Joe Kapara, a common type around the Israeli south. The idea was to sing specific songs about a specific place, like country music: you don’t drive a truck—you drive a flatbed Ford. You don’t sing about a woman, but about Jolene. And you’re not from just anywhere, you’re from Luckenbach, Texas, or Muskogee, or Sderot. (“When I hear country, I’m in my own country,” Oz said.)

Friedman describes one of Teapacks’ most memorable performances:

It was a night in June 2001, and the band was performing with the Mizraḥi pop queen Sarit Hadad, who’d become famous for singing with Teapacks a few years before. News began to arrive of a Palestinian suicide bombing at a nightclub in Tel Aviv; 21 people were dead, mostly teenagers. It’s the kind of situation Israeli artists have to deal with.

Oz wasn’t going to call off the concert, but the situation needed to be addressed, so he decided to open with the national anthem, “Hatikvah.” Why, I asked. “I always want to sing ‘Hatikva,’” he said. He and Hadad rehearsed a version that incorporated the style that Oz heard when his Tunisian grandfather sang the anthem. . . . Without adding a word, Oz’s version made a political point: the anthem might have been written by an East European but the song, and the country, belonged to people from Tunis as much as to anyone else.

Read more at Tablet

More about: Hatikvah, Israeli culture, Israeli music, Mizrahi Jewry


Hizballah Is Learning Israel’s Weak Spots

On Tuesday, a Hizballah drone attack injured three people in northern Israel. The next day, another attack, targeting an IDF base, injured eighteen people, six of them seriously, in Arab al-Amshe, also in the north. This second attack involved the simultaneous use of drones carrying explosives and guided antitank missiles. In both cases, the defensive systems that performed so successfully last weekend failed to stop the drones and missiles. Ron Ben-Yishai has a straightforward explanation as to why: the Lebanon-backed terrorist group is getting better at evading Israel defenses. He explains the three basis systems used to pilot these unmanned aircraft, and their practical effects:

These systems allow drones to act similarly to fighter jets, using “dead zones”—areas not visible to radar or other optical detection—to approach targets. They fly low initially, then ascend just before crashing and detonating on the target. The terrain of southern Lebanon is particularly conducive to such attacks.

But this requires skills that the terror group has honed over months of fighting against Israel. The latest attacks involved a large drone capable of carrying over 50 kg (110 lbs.) of explosives. The terrorists have likely analyzed Israel’s alert and interception systems, recognizing that shooting down their drones requires early detection to allow sufficient time for launching interceptors.

The IDF tries to detect any incoming drones on its radar, as it had done prior to the war. Despite Hizballah’s learning curve, the IDF’s technological edge offers an advantage. However, the military must recognize that any measure it takes is quickly observed and analyzed, and even the most effective defenses can be incomplete. The terrain near the Lebanon-Israel border continues to pose a challenge, necessitating technological solutions and significant financial investment.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Hizballah, Iron Dome, Israeli Security