November 26, 2022

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Israeli performers build musical bridges

With thanks: Hen and Joseph

The Israeli musical offspring of Jews from Arab countries are drawing inspiration from their Arabic roots, modernising classic songs and building cultural bridges to Arab audiences via social media.

Dudu Tassa is the grandson of Dudu al-Kuwaity, one of the famed Al-Kuwaity brothers, who made  a lasting mark on popular music in Iraq and Kuwait in the 1940s, 50s and even into the 60s. Dudu has been resurrecting some of the old favourite songs and giving them a modern twist with his electric guitar. Dudu’s dreamis to be able to perform to audiences in Iraq and Kuwait, as he explains in Arabic in this video clip made by JIMENA. 

Dudu Tassa: his dream is to perform in Arab countries

It is just four years since the Israeli -Yemenite girl group A-awa took the musical world by storm with their hit song Habib Galbi. This video and song (‘This is not Yemen’ )  from their new album has already garnered almost a quarter of a million views on Youtube. Sung in Arabic, the lyrics evoke the hardships suffered by  their grandparents in the Yemenite aliya (1949 -50) . Consigned to tents, the new arrivals, fleeing Yemen as refugees, were branded ‘primitive’, given a tent to live in with four other families, and ended up in cleaning jobs or working the land. But the bountiful land of Israel is home. With time, they feel they will belong.

“Land of wheat and barley, grape and olive
Fig and pomegranate, date and home Where will I stake a home?
(You have a tent for now)
Or at least a small shack
(Along with four other families)
And here I will raise a family
(Don’t let them take your daughter)
I’ll find myself a job with an income
(Either in cleaning or working the earth)
And I will learn the language
(Lose the accent)
With time I’ll feel like I belong
(Here is not Yemen)
Where will I stake a home?
(You have a tent for now)
Or at least a small shack
(Along with four other families)

I came to you a stranger
You saw me as primitive
I came to you fleeing
I saw you as a last resort…”

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