I would like to thank Philip Schuyler for inviting me to give the talk at the University of Washington on which this article is loosely based. I would also like to acknowledge the friendship and support of the musicians discussed in this article: Taiseer Elias, Jamal Sa’id, Shoham Einav, Yair Dalal, Avshalom Farjun, Miguel Herstein, Amir Milstein, Nassim Dakwar, Zohar Fresco, Emmanuel Mann, Naor Carmi, Ghidian al-Qaimari, and Omar Keinani. Research for this project has been supported in part by grants from the Committee on Research and the Center for Middle East Studies of the University of California at Berkeley.|
2. Yisrael Borochov, the first bass player in this band, went on to found the East/West Ensemble. Miguel Herstein, the original guitar and banjo player in the band was a founding member of Bustan Abraham and White Bird, discussed below. Emmanuel Mann and Naor Carmi, two later bass players in Habreira Hativ’it, went on to join Bustan Abraham (at different times).
3. I was the one who recommended them when the director of the festival turned to me for advice, but beyond that I had no further influence and he auditioned other bands as well in a trip to Israel. Earlier Israeli representatives at this festival included: the Inbal Dance Theatre (1988) which specializes in working with traditional ethnic dance resources, particularly Yemenite Jewish dance; Habreira Hativ’it (1990 ); Bustan Abraham with its two subsets, White Bird and the Arab Classical Music Trio later named Ziryab (1992); the East-West Ensemble (1994); and Yair Dalal and his Al-Ol Ensemble (1996).
4. She never said so explicitly, but this seemed clear from her disparaging remarks concerning others who have taken to singing Ladino and Israeli songs with Middle Eastern accompaniment since she pioneered this direction.
5. See Warkov 1986. Yair Dalal and Zohar Fresco (the drummer of Bustan Abraham) both learned a lot by participating in weekly sessions held by the old Iraqi Jewish musicians who formed the backbone of the now defunct Arab radio orchestra of the Israel Broadcasting Authority. Though his sources of knowledge in Arab music are similar to Zohar Fresco’s, Dalal makes claims for authority while Zohar does not.
6. My thanks to Shamma Boyarin for bringing this up in a class discussion after I played a recording of Shoham and the band playing “Sheharhoret.” The tune for this song is actually Turkish.
7. The American debate on multiculturalism was picked up in Israel by some of those who feel that their cultural heritage has been subject to government-sponsored discrimination. One outcome is the “Singing Communities” project directed by Yossi Ohana (see Banai 2004). Intended to reintroduce Israelis to their North African and Middle Eastern Jewish heritage of religious song, this program also involves Yair Dalal. It was first discussed by Dalal and Ohana met in Berkeley in 1997 where the three of us met for the first time.
8. The Palestinian singer Amal Murkus, an Israeli citizen, has become increasingly outspoken in recent years. Sabrin is a Palestinian band that is well known for its political messages (the lead singer Kamilya Jubran’s website is www.kamilyajubran.com).