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Week 6


This week’s assignments explore the role of Israeli institutions, and especially the Army (also know by

the acronym IDF, i.e. Israeli Defense Force; in Hebrew tzahal), in shaping popular music and culture.

Since the creation of the State in 1948, the IDF has been a catalyzing force of Israeli cultural diversity, as well as the sponsor of lehaqot tzvayiot (Army Ensembles, see Regev-Seroussi, ch. 2 and 5). Another important factor in the formation of popular music, also connected with the Israeli military experience,

has been the chain of wars that involved Israel and a host of Middle Eastern nations: Independence

(1948), the Sinai Campaign (1956), the Six-Day War (June 1967), the Yom Kippur War (1973) and the First and Second Lebanon Wars (1982 and 2006). Popular songs from those years reflect the evolution of Israeli culture from the shire eretz yisrael (Songs of the Land of Israel, or SLI: see Regev-Seroussi, ch. 3, and the reading assignments for Week 3) into modern pop.

You may want to refer to the CD World Music from Israel, which we used during Week 3, to explore once again how the Tel Aviv Police Band recorded in the 1950’s presented some Israeli “standards.” However, the main listening source for this week is the compilation Gadalnu Yachad (literally, “We Grew Up Together,” i.e., with these songs), issued in 1998 to celebrate the 50 th anniversary of the founding of the State of Israel. The English language list of the content of this compilation is available on bSpace.

Gadalnu Yachad. Osef hayovel shel yisrael – Israel’s 240 Greatest Songs in Celebration of Its 50th Anniversary, Hed Artzi Music, ACUM 15950 (1998)


Army Ensembles


following tracks were all produced for and performed by various Israeli Army Ensembles between

1963 and 1969: the Orchestras of “Nachal” (the Youth Pioneers’ fighting organization, which combines military service with agricultural work), of the Northern and Central Commands and of the Navy.

Explore their musical content (regardless of their Hebrew lyrics), trying to absorb its different sounds. Draw upon your own knowledge of pop music (i.e., your experience of listening to the radio, watching

TV, and going to the movies…):

Are any of these songs expressing a “local” feeling (i.e. Israeli, characterized by the “Oriental” atmosphere we have been defining over the past weeks)? Do they show the influence of international popular music (i.e. American or European traits; or International Ballroom tunes, such as Tangos,

Waltzes and Mazurkas, or Afro Cuban rhythms…)? How do you reconcile these sounds with the idea of a musical scene dominated by the Army?

CD 3: Tracks 9 (1963); 14 (1964); 20 (1967); 23, 24 and 25 (1969).

2. Wars

1948: War of Independence

CD 1, Track 2: Hayu zmanim (There Were Times), a nostalgic song originally written in 1949 for the

Chizbatron, the first army ensemble (see Regev-Seroussi, p. 92). This is a 1966 performance by Yemenite singer Shoshana Damari.

CD 1, Track 4: Bab el-Wad (The Gate of the Valley), about the battle for the road to Jerusalem,

recorded in 1949 by Yaffa Yarkoni, known as the “’singer of the three wars’ because she recorded songs that related to the War of Independence, the Sinai Campaign and the Six-Day War. In addition, Yarkoni was herself a young war widow, having lost her first husband in World War II just two weeks after their marriage.” Born in 1926 to a family from Central Asia, Yarkoni was featured in the Israeli press for her critical stands about the policy of the Israeli government prior to the “disengagement” from Gaza (2005). 1967: Six-Day War

CD 4, Track 14: Mendelbaum, from a 1967 Israeli movie soundtrack, the song is based on the true (and

surreal) story of Mr. Mendelbaum’s home, which stood in Jerusalem on the Israeli-Jordanian border that

divided the city in two.

CD 3, Track 17: Yerushalayim shel zahav (Jerusalem of Gold, 1967), by Naomi Shemer, in the original

performance by Shuli Natan; probably the most famous Israeli song of all times (see separate handout

with English translation of the lyrics and an article about N. Shemer’s death in 2004).

1973: Yom Kippur War

CD 5, Track 8: Lu yehi (Let it Happen, 1973), by Naomi Shemer; a Hebrew paraphrase of the Beatles’

Let it Be. See Regev-Seroussi for a translation and explanation of the song (p. 67-68). 1982: First Lebanon War

CD 7, Track 11: Shte etzba’ot mitzidon (Two Inches Away from Sidon) is the lead song of an Israeli

movie (Ricochets, by Eli Cohen, 1986) about the moral dilemmas of an IDF paratroopers platoon during


Lebanon War of 1982.


First Lebanon War is also the subject of a widely praised Israeli animated motion picture, Waltz with

Bashir (2008), by Ari Folman.

Note: All required sound files and CD booklets available on bSpace.