“Havah Nagilah” Goes to the Night Clubs

Written in 1918 to capture the spirit of Zionist pioneers, Havah Nagilah doesn’t seem like the sort of song that would be popular in trendy restaurants in 2023. But, writes Alyson Krueger, it is:

On a Monday afternoon in May, Havah Nagilah, the infectious Jewish folk song, was reverberating through the Monte-Carlo Beach Club, a resort on the Mediterranean Sea in Monaco. The music was coming from a cliff-side, open-air venue, where revelers dressed in suits and dresses were dancing in circles and swirling cloth napkins in the air. Some people passing by remarked how lovely it was that a Jewish wedding was taking place. But a server quickly corrected them. That was no Jewish wedding, he said. It was an after-party for the Formula 1 car race from the previous day.

Havah Nagilah, a song traditionally played at Jewish life events including weddings and bar and bat mitzvahs, is now making appearances at highly secular, non-Jewish gatherings. You can hear it at sporting events, trendy bars and clubs, music festivals, and private parties. “It is played from time to time here at Citi Field, especially when we have an organist,” said Julia Baxley, a spokeswoman for the Mets baseball team, in an email.

It is played at least once a weekend at Calissa, a Greek restaurant in Water Mill, NY, that hosts big-name D.J.s and performers like Samantha Ronson and Wyclef Jean.

James Loeffler, a professor of Jewish history at the University of Virginia who has studied the song, said he wasn’t surprised Havah Nagilah was getting so much airtime today. “It’s a song that is about transformation and reinvention, so that is destined to keep happening,” he said. “It’s always had new lives.”

Read more at New York Times

More about: Israeli music, Popular culture, Popular music

Iran’s Program of Subversion and Propaganda in the Caucasus

In the past week, Iranian proxies and clients have attacked Israel from the West Bank, Gaza, Lebanon, and Yemen. Iran also has substantial military assets in Iraq and Syria—countries over which it exercises a great deal of control—which could launch significant attacks on Israel as well. Tehran, in addition, has stretched its influence northward into both Azerbaijan and Armenia. While Israel has diplomatic relations with both of these rival nations, its relationship with Baku is closer and involves significant military and security collaboration, some of which is directed against Iran. Alexander Grinberg writes:

Iran exploits ethnic and religious factors in both Armenia and Azerbaijan to further its interests. . . . In Armenia, Iran attempts to tarnish the legitimacy of the elected government and exploit the church’s nationalist position and tensions between it and the Armenian government; in Azerbaijan, the Iranian regime employs outright terrorist methods similar to its support for terrorist proxies in the Middle East [in order to] undermine the regime.

Huseyniyyun (Islamic Resistance Movement of Azerbaijan) is a terrorist militia made up of ethnic Azeris and designed to fight against Azerbaijan. It was established by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps . . . in the image of other pro-Iranian militias. . . . Currently, Huseyniyyun is not actively engaged in terrorist activities as Iran prefers more subtle methods of subversion. The organization serves as a mouthpiece of the Iranian regime on various Telegram channels in the Azeri language. The main impact of Huseyniyyun is that it helps spread Iranian propaganda in Azerbaijan.

The Iranian regime fears the end of hostilities between Armenia and Azerbaijan because this would limit its options for disruption. Iranian outlets are replete with anti-Semitic paranoia against Azerbaijan, accusing the country of awarding its territory to Zionists and NATO. . . . Likewise, it is noteworthy that Armenian nationalists reiterate hideous anti-Semitic tropes that are identical to those spouted by the Iranians and Palestinians. Moreover, leading Iranian analysts have no qualms about openly praising [sympathetic] Armenian clergy together with terrorist Iran-funded Azeri movements for working toward Iranian goals.

Read more at Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security

More about: Azerbaijan, Iran, Israeli Security