Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Israeli song is a hit in Yemen

A song from an Israeli singer with Yemenite roots – but who has never visited the country – has become a surprise hit in the Yemeni capital of Sanaa, the Economist reported on Tuesday. Re-published in Haaretz (with thanks: Lily).

Zion Golan's song "Sana’a al-Yemen" is frequently heard blaring from stereos and minibus speakers. "Come with me to Sanaa," Golan sings in Yemeni Arabic. "Sanaa, my home, you'll like it."

But although the lyrics refer to Sana’a as home, Golan has never been there. As an Israeli Jew he is forbidden to travel to Yemen.

Golan is one of more than 300,000 Israelis who trace their roots to Yemen, once home to a significant Jewish community dating back to at least the 2nd century, the Economist writes.

The bulk of Yemen’s Jews left when Israel was founded in 1948, escaping Yemen's instability, poverty and instances of anti-Jewish violence. Today barely a hundred Jews remain.

But cultural ties have survived. Yemeni restaurants in Israel’s Tel Aviv serve traditional cuisine and some markets discreetly stock qat, a leafy mild narcotic popular in Yemen.

Israelis of Yemeni descent such as Golan and the late Ofra Haza, a pop star famed for her fusion of western and eastern sounds, continued to write music that found an audience in Yemen, since it is grounded in the traditions of their ancestral home.

The artists' bootleg albums have long been bought and sold underground (trade with Israel is illegal in Yemen). More recently, the internet has made the songs more accessible. Young Yemenis watch performances on YouTube, sharing them on social networking sites such as Facebook, where they often express astonishment at the resilience of Yemeni culture and lament the Jewish community’s near-extinction in Yemen.

Read article in full
Israeli song becomes Syrian protest soundtrack


Anonymous said...

What, Muslims who don't adhere to BDS? Does the ASA know about this?

Eliyahu m'Tsiyon said...

Yemenite Jews have come to Israel over the centuries. The grave of a Yemenite Jewish sage is shown in Hebron to this day in the old Jewish cemetery. Or mentioned as having lived in Hebron in the 16th or the 17th century. A large group called `Aliyat haTamar came in the late 19th century. The haaretz article makes it seem as if they only came after 1948.

Anonymous said...

We all know the tendency of Haaretz.

Anonymous said...

what ARE

Anonymous said...


BDS = the economic and cultural campaign to Boycott, Divest and Sanctions against Israel

ASA = American Studies Association, an organization of about 5,000 US academics whose field of studies is American. They recently voted to boycott Israeli academics and universities. Only a small percentage of the membership actually voted and at last I heard, over 200 American universities condemned the vote and, those that are member institutions of the ASA are threatening to withdraw.

Anonymous said...

I'm curious about the point the Economist had in even publicizing this. Knowing their animosity toward Israel, probably to demonstrate that the Yemenite Jews really don't want to be in Israel or something negative like that, and maybe to suggest that the Yemenites would be welcomed back (which we know ain't true).