World War I and the Origins of Israel’s Most Famous Song

By April 1918—as the final year of the First World War ground on—Jerusalemites had, in the words of Lenny Ben-David, suffered “starvation, locust plagues, and diseases spread by Ottoman soldiers, such as cholera, typhoid, [and] malaria.” Yet that baleful year was also one of joy because of the British liberation of Jerusalem from Ottoman rule, and the promise of the November 1917 Balfour Declaration. That joy inspired one Jew, as Ben-David writes:

In 1918, a music teacher and cantor in Jerusalem, Avraham Zvi Idelsohn, transcribed an old tune (nigun) of the Sadigorer Ḥasidim (from today’s Ukraine) and composed a song to celebrate the liberation of Jerusalem and the Balfour Declaration in 1917. It was called “Havah Nagilah”—“Let Us Rejoice!”

The song, with phrases from Psalms, caught on among all Jewish residents of Eretz Yisrael, from the ultra-Orthodox to the socialist kibbutzniks. But the music did not stop at the Mediterranean shores. It became an anthem at Jewish celebrations around the world. Its versions included orchestral, ḥasidic, rap, klezmer, and rock. It was recorded by stars such as Ray Charles, Drake, Frank Sinatra, Harry Belafonte, Josephine Baker, [and] various orchestras and choirs, and even played at sporting events such as hockey games, baseball’s seventh-inning-stretch, and the Olympic gymnast Aly Raisman’s floor routine in 2012.

Read more at Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs

More about: Israeli music, Mandate Palestine, World War I


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