since 1965  (really?)

Mizrahi Music and the Construction of Israeli National Culture

This course listing applies to a Spring 2010 course. To find current courses, check out the Find a Course page.

Spring 2010
MES 98/198
1 Unit(s)

Human friendly URL (OBSOLETE)


About the Course:

Though territorial Zionism originated as an ideology among Ashkenazi (European) Jewry and many early settlers of what would become the state of Israel were European, within a few years of the founding of the Jewish state a vast influx of Jews from the Middle East, North Africa, and Central Asia arrived in Israel, there becoming known as Mizrahim (“Easterners”). In many cases these Jews did not want to leave their respective homelands, but were compelled to under pressure of violence from their Arab and Muslim neighbors and eager Zionists looking to create a Jewish majority in Palestinian territory. Within Israel, Mizrahim have often faced social and political discrimination.

As a result, the Mizrahim clung to their own individual cultures, heavily influenced by the Muslim cultures of their former neighbors, particularly in their musical traditions. The Ashkenazim, in their effort to create a Western-oriented Jewish national culture, forcefully marginalized the production of Mizrahi music, which was perceived as "too Arab." Today, however, Mizrahi music is among the most popular styles in Israel and many of the most famous Israeli singers are Mizrahim.

In this class, we will discuss the history of Mizrahi music in Israel—its roots and influences, its phenomenal rise from underground to mainstream, and its modern popularity among Muslim Arab as well as Israeli Jewish youth. This is a unique look at the politics of music— and a critique of existing perceptions on what constitutes “Jewish culture.” Furthermore, we will be able to dismantle the false dichotomy of Jew vs. Arab and look closely at the history of race relations in Israel, which is largely overlooked and ignored in mainstream discourse where Israel is represented as having a monolithic culture isolated from its Arab neighbors.


Partial list of featured artists: Moshik Afia, Jo Amar, Zohar Argov, Gali Atari, Zehava Ben, Daklon, Eyal Golan, Tsion Golan, Sarit Hadad, Ofra Haza, Ishtar (Alabina), Haim Moshe, Lior Narkis, Kobi Peretz, Rita, Shar-El, Sharif, Aris San, Shlomi Saranga, Subliminal and HaTsel, Brakha Tsefira, and many more!


How to Enroll:

Please enroll via TeleBears in Middle Eastern Studies 98 or 198. Those who enroll but do not attend the first day will be dropped from the course.


*Note: as of January 23, MES 98 is full with a waitlist. MES 198 has ~10 open seats remaining. 



MES 98: 57005

MES 198: 57015

Course Contact: eliska AT

Faculty Sponsor: Emily Gottreich

Time & Location:

MES 98/198Elise Burton
20221 WheelerTu 5p-6:30p1/26started

Uploaded Files:

Syllabus: decalsyllabus.docNov 2056kbWord Doc (Viewer)View Download

Course info last modified January 24, 2010. This page has been viewed 2034 times.

Could not update hit count.

Table './decalwebsite/d_coursevisitors' is marked as crashed and last (automatic?) repair failed