Meet Nasrin Kadri: the Arab Jewish Queen of Israeli Pop Music

Born to a working-class Arab family in Haifa, the thirty-three-year-old Nasrin Kadry is without question the Jewish state’s leading performer of popular music. Matti Friedman explains her unusual story, and what her success says about Israeli society:

Nasrin, known to all by her first name, became famous the modern way: on a reality-TV talent show, a kind of local American Idol dedicated to a genre of music known as Mizraḥi. That’s Hebrew for “eastern” and refers to an Israeli blend of Middle Eastern pop with Greek and Western influences.

Yaron Ilan, an influential Mizraḥi radio host, sees a generational change. People around his age, fifty, still call the music Mizraḥi or Mediterranean. “They still think of the Mediterranean sound as something different from Israeli music,” and that has changed among younger listeners, he said. To them, what Nasrin is singing is Israeli music—and she’s doing it not in small clubs in south Tel Aviv but in the Menorah Arena, the biggest indoor venue in the city.

If Nasrin is representative of the hybrid culture emerging [in Israel], there’s one part of her biography that’s truly unique: her decision not just to sing in Hebrew but also to . . . embrace Judaism. [Nasrin’s] first interest in spirituality was through a Jewish boyfriend, a darbuka drummer from a traditional Moroccan family. She began fasting on Yom Kippur and keeping the Sabbath in her twenties. They broke up a few times over the course of a decade, got engaged, then broke up again, but she decided to go through with conversion anyway in 2018, immersing herself in a ritual bath, accepting religious commandments and adding a Hebrew name, Brakhah, or “blessing.” It was all covered by the tabloids.

She has been speaking to God for years, she said, in the language spoken by Jews. “When I need him, I speak to him only in Hebrew,” she told me. “He stayed with me. He helped me. Everything I asked for until now He made come true.”

Read more at New York Times

More about: Conversion, Israeli Arabs, Israeli culture, Israeli music, Judaism, 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