The Origins of Moroccan Jewish Music, and Its 21st-Century Heirs

In the 15th century, thousands of Jews made their way from Iberia to Morocco and other parts of northwest Africa, joining an existing Jewish community that had its own long history. Mohamed Chtatou describes how the musical traditions they brought with them from southern Spain (Andalusia) blended with local Jewish, Arab, and Berber (Amazigh) musical tradition to create a unique Moroccan-Jewish art form—and that art form’s modern legacy:

In recent years, Jews of Moroccan origin living in Israel and elsewhere have made contact with Morocco again and this population is gradually rediscovering Andalusian music. The Andalusian Orchestra of Israel was established in 1994 and offers a new field of collaboration between Jews and Arabs. Moroccan Muslim musicians perform in Israel, and Jewish musicians from Israel and elsewhere perform in Morocco and share generously experiences and artistic creations.

The matrûz—in Arabic, “that what is embroidered”—is an oral . . . musical tradition [derived from the] Hebraic, Muslim, and Christian artistic practice that blended in the melting pot of multicultural Andalusia. The matrûz designates a musical concept of Judeo-Arabic crossbreeding characterized by the alternation of Arabic and Hebrew in the lyrics. It is a music of oral tradition still present in certain Moroccan circles that value this common heritage of Jewish, Muslim, and Christian cultures of Andalusia. Usually, the first part of the [lyrics of a song in the] matrûz style is composed in Arabic, while the second part is in Hebrew.

The matrûz, which originated in the Middle Ages in Andalusia, which was at the time a Muslim territory . . . is more present in Morocco than in any other country.

Indeed, in the early part of the last century, there were several now-forgotten Moroccan Jewish performers, working in a modern version of the matrûz idiom, who were considered major stars by Jews and Muslims alike.

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Read more at Eurasia Review

More about: Jewish music, Jewish-Muslim Relations, Moroccan Jewry, Morocco, Sephardim

Will Tensions Rise between the U.S. and Israel?

Unlike his past many predecessors, President Joe Biden does not have a plan for solving the Israel-Palestinian conflict. Moreover, his administration has indicated its skepticism about renewing the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran. John Bolton nevertheless believes that there could be a collision between the new Benjamin Netanyahu-led Israeli government and the Biden White House:

In possibly his last term, Netanyahu’s top national-security priority will be ending, not simply managing, Iran’s threat. This is infinitely distant from Biden’s Iran policy, which venerates Barrack Obama’s inaugural address: “we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.”

Tehran’s fist is today otherwise occupied, pummeling its own people. Still, it will continue menacing Israel and America unless and until the internal resistance finds ways to fracture the senior levels of Iran’s regular military and the Revolutionary Guards. Netanyahu undoubtedly sees Iran’s growing domestic turmoil as an opportunity for regime change, which Israel and others can facilitate. Simultaneously, Jerusalem can be preparing its military and intelligence services to attack Tehran’s nuclear program, something the White House simply refuses to contemplate seriously. Biden’s obsession with reviving the disastrous 2015 nuclear deal utterly blinds the White House to the potential for a more significant victory.

To make matters worse, Biden has just created a Washington-based position at the State Department, a “special representative for Palestinian affairs,” that has already drawn criticism in Israel both for the new position itself and for the person named to fill it. Advocated as one more step toward “upgrading” U.S. relations with the Palestinian Authority, the new position looks nearly certain to become the locus not of advancing American interests regarding the failed Authority, but of advancing the Authority’s interests within the Biden administration.

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Read more at 19FortyFive

More about: Benjamin Netanyahu, Iran, Joe Biden, U.S.-Israel relationship