If you've read Amy Horowitz's excellent book, Mediterranean Israeli Music and the Politics of the Aesthetic, you will probably know much of this story. But Horowitz's book only takes us up to the early 90s, prior to the mainstreaming of Mizrahi music, the success of artists like Eyal Golan. And it mentions more recent developments, like the Jaffa bar Anna Loulou, and the fabulous singer Neta Elkayam. The article mentions one artist I was not familiar with, a pioneer figure in the movement, Ahuva Ozeri. Check out her song ‘Haikhan ha-Khayal?’ (Where is my soldier?) here.
Anna-Lulu resident DJ Khen Ohana Elmaleh (photo Leeor Ohayon)
(the photo hanging on the right is of Salim Halali)
I particularly liked Ohayon's summary of what happened to the Jews from the Arab countries who ended up in Israel after 1948:
Mizrahi is the subsequent result of Egyptian Jews befriending Moroccan Jews who married other eastern Jewish communities from Algeria to Dagestan within the ghettos of peripheral Israel, creating the Israeli ‘ethnic other’. Mizrahi is the result of side-lined communities, uprooted, destitute and further victimised in a state that told them not to be ‘too Arab’. A state built on Ashkenazic foundations, under a Eurocentric educative system that sought to pressurise Mizrahi Jewry into leaving their Middle Eastern cultures at the border and adopting a new Ashkenazi-Israeli identity. All this subsequently resulted in a dichotomy that only served to create a form of identity-based schizophrenia amongst Mizrahi Jewry.