May 15, 2008
Paradoxes characterize life in Israel
(Page 2 - Previous Page)Most of all, we sing. Every kind of song is created here. The musical encounter between East and West -- elsewhere designated as "world music" -- here is simply Israeli music. And in recent years, God has become a major protagonist of Israeli rock, confounding our notion of a nation divided between "secular" and "religious." The old sentimental patriotic songs are kept alive in mass sing-alongs around the country and by new hip-hop and reggae versions. The more desperate the situation becomes, the more exuberantly Israelis sing.
To be an Israeli at 60 is to be at once disappointed and awed. It means being primed for surprise -- an emergency airlift of a remote Jewish tribe, missiles on Tel Aviv, an Arab leader seeking peace in Jerusalem. It means that even as we grow wary of the mythic, we still feel privileged to live in the ultimate Jewish myth.
This essay originally appeared in The Jewish Week and is reprinted with permission.
Yossi Klein Halevi is a senior fellow at the Adelson Institute for Strategic Studies of the Shalem Center in Jerusalem and the Israel correspondent of the New Republic.
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