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

Despite the Toll of War at Home and Rising Hostility Abroad, Investors Are Still Choosing Israel

When I first saw news that Google wasn’t going through with its acquisition of the tech startup Wiz, I was afraid hesitancy over its Israeli founders and close ties with the Jewish state might have something to do with it. I couldn’t have been more wrong: the deal is off not because of Google’s hesitancy, but because Wiz feared the FTC would slow down the process with uncertain results. The company is instead planning an initial public offering. In the wake of the CrowdStrike debacle, companies like Wiz have every reason to be optimistic, as Sophie Shulman explains:

For the Israeli cyber sector, CrowdStrike’s troubles are an opportunity. CrowdStrike is a major competitor to Palo Alto Networks, and both companies aim to provide comprehensive cyber defense platforms. The specific issue that caused the global Windows computer shutdown is related to their endpoint protection product, an area where they compete with Palo Alto’s Cortex products developed in Israel and the SentinelOne platform.

Friday’s drop in CrowdStrike shares reflects investor frustration and the expectation that potential customers will now turn to competitors, strengthening the position of Israeli companies. This situation may renew interest in smaller startups and local procurement in Israel, given how many institutions were affected by the CrowdStrike debacle.

Indeed, it seems that votes of confidence in Israeli technology are coming from many directions, despite the drop in the Tel Aviv stock exchange following the attack from Yemen, and despite the fact that some 46,000 Israeli businesses have closed their doors since October 7. Tel Aviv-based Cyabra, which creates software that identifies fake news, plans a $70 million IPO on Nasdaq. The American firm Applied Systems announced that it will be buying a different Israeli tech startup and opening a research-and-development center in Israel. And yet another cybersecurity startup, founded by veterans of the IDF’s elite 8200 unit, came on the scene with $33 million in funding. And those are the stories from this week alone.

But it’s not only the high-tech sector that’s attracting foreign investment. The UK-based firm Energean plans to put approximately $1.2 billion into developing a so-far untapped natural-gas field in Israel’s coastal waters. Money speaks much louder than words, and it seems Western businesses don’t expect Israel to become a global pariah, or to collapse in the face of its enemies, anytime soon.

Read more at Calcalist

More about: cybersecurity, Israeli economy, Israeli gas, Israeli technology, Start-up nation