An Overview About Israel: History, People, And Music
Israel is a little country located in the Middle East. Israel is surrounded by Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Egypt, and the Mediterranean Sea. In relation to these countries Israel is tiny. From north to south the land is 262.5 miles long and 71.9 miles wide; smaller than the state of New Jersey. Israel is a subtropical region, and the climate of Israel is Mediterranean, in which the summers are hot and dry and the winters are cool and wet.
There are several landmark physical features in Israel. There are five major rivers in Israel: the Jordanian, Kishon, Lakhish, Ayalon, and the Nahal Alexander rivers. There are several mountain ranges in the country of Israel. The Golan Heights and the Hills of Galilee are both in the northeast of Israel.
The size of the population of Israel is currently 8,583,916 people. 90.3% of the population lives in urban areas. The various ethnic groups that live in Israel are Jewish (75.5%), the next largest group in Israel is Arab (20.2%), and the remaining 4% are referred to as “other”, who may have not registered with the Ministry of Interiors. The language of Israel is Hebrew, while English, Arabic, and Russian are all majorly used by people who live there as well. The major religious traditions of Israel are related to Judaism, as Israel is the only Jewish Nation in the world. This means that citizens do not work on Fridays or Saturdays, as this is the Sabbath to the Jewish people. Jewish holidays are considered national holidays and no work is performed on these days.
The history of Israel is very long and stems from the Jewish Bible. Israel is known as the Jewish promise land and known as home to the Jews. More recent history regarding the country of Israel started in 1947. After the Holocaust, the UN wanted to partition Israel into a two-part state for Jews and Arabs, however it was rejected by the Arabs. In May 1948, the UN declared Israel as an official independent Jewish state. This was upsetting to many of the Arabs who already lived in the area. In 1948 The Arab countries surrounding Israel invaded the country as a protest to this declaration, beginning the Arab-Israeli War. In 1949 a peace treaty was signed, however wars and conflict still occur today. In 1967 the Six Day War broke out, in which Israel gained control over the Gaza Strip, the Sinai Peninsula, the West Bank, and Golan Heights. Years later, in 1973, the Yom-Kippur war started as Egypt and Syria launched missiles into Israel over the holiday, the war lasted two weeks, until the UN called for a cease fire. In 1987 the first Palestinian intifada occurred, in which Palestinians held riots and many deaths occurred, the first intifada ended due to the Oslo Peace Accords. The second Palestinian Intifada occurred in 2000, and a peace treaty was reached in 2005 when Israel agreed to vacate the Gaza Strip. Violence and terrorist attacks in Israel is constant due to a terrorist group called Hamas which controls the Palestinian government.
There are many important historical figures in regards to Israel’s history. David Ben-Gurion (1186-1973) is called the ‘Father of the Nation’ in Israel, as he was the country’s first prime minister, and helped see that the nation of Israel was born. Yitzchak Rabin (1922-1995) was the country’s fifth prime minister. Rabin is famous for his role in the Oslo Peace Accords, his move to save kidnapped Israeli’s from a hijacked plane by terrorists in Entebbe, and the peace treaty he signed with Jordan. Rabin is the only prime minister of Israel to ever be assassinated. Golda Meir (1898-1978) was the first female prime minister of Israel in 1969.
The current form of government in Israel is parliamentary democracy. The Prime Minister is the head of the government, while the executive branch appoints the Knesset, the judiciary branch. Israel’s economy is very strong and resilient due to its growing industries. Israel ranks number one in the world in regards to its availability of scientists and engineers (Heritage.org, 2019). There are constant disputes that occur in Israel, which sometimes break out into full blown wars. This is due to the conflicts between the Palestinians and the Israelis (MFA.gov.il, 2013).
The health and life expectancy of Israel is high. Life expectancy is 80.7 for men and 84.2 for women. Israel ranks number seven on the list for world life expectancy. The country as a whole maintains a Mediterranean diet and exercise is a regular part of the culture.
Israeli folk music first developed in the late 19th and 20th centuries as a means to spread Zionism and unite European Jews moving to Israel. This was done in order to build a feeling of unity across the new immigrants of Israel in order to unite to work on the much needed building of the land and the nation. The government of Israel was socialist at the time, and the music reflected this. The message of the music was that it is important to unite for a common good in order to build the country, and that living there was fulfilling a prophecy made in biblical times, associating the music with religious traditions. The main audience the music reached out to was those who moved to Israel, as well as Jews all over the world to spread a feeling of Zionism. As time moved on, the music evolved from a European influence to more Mediterranean sounding music, and topics changed from spreading love of the land of Israel to songs about those fallen during wartime while protecting the country.
Israeli folk music may be described as unifying music. The timbre of the music is warm, mellow, and bright. The beat is strong and the rhythmic density is low, while the phonic structure is a homophony. The text setting in the music may be described as melismatic, and is generally performative.
What is unique about Israeli folk music is that it was made in order to unite people from all over the world who only shared the love of the land of Israel. Instruments unique to Israeli folk music are the duduk; a reed instrument, the Oud; a chordophone, the darbuk; a membranophone played with the hands, the bendir; a membranophone also played with the hands, as well as the violin, a lute. Israeli folk dancing is associated with the countries folk music, and both are generally performed at Israeli music festivals in order to celebrate Israeli culture and the growth of the country.
Israeli pop music draws upon Westernized pop music while incorporating the Middle Eastern musical sounds of Israel. This music first came to Israel in the 1970’s when Ashkenazic (Eastern European descent) music ruled Israel, while music made by Sephardi’s (those who originated from Mediterranean countries and the Middle East) was ignored. This music then fused with more traditional pop music sounds as Israel became more advanced technologically and gained influence from Western countries. The genre was never disapproved by the government, and Israeli adolescents like the genre as it discusses problems with peace during the Israeli-Palestinian conflicts. Although the music is not necessarily religious, it is tied to Israeli culture, which is tied to its Jewish roots.
Israeli pop music may be described as upbeat. The timbre of the music is warm and bright, with a strong beat, high rhythmic density, and an independent polyphony. The text setting is melismatic, and the music is performative.
Israeli pop music is unique from other pop music as it discusses life in Israel. The music is so deeply rooted in the country that if one who had never been or never learned about it may not understand the music. The music will usually discuss popular locations in Israel as well as issues regarding the country.
Today, Israeli music, both folk and pop, portray the issue regarding whether or not Israel should Westernize itself without regards to its religious and cultural background, as well as everyday life living in the land during Israeli-Palestinian conflicts. These genres are widely popular throughout the country, as they discuss everyday life in Israel with a positive outlook. The music of Israel is not government subsidized, and there are no controversies related to the genres, however controversy against the country as a whole due to the Israeli-Palestinian colflict may lead to people’s dislike of the music.
Omer Adam is an Israeli singer. He was born on October 22, 1993 in the United States, both of Adam’s parents are Israeli, and after he was born they moved back to Israel. Adam likely came from a middle class family and was educated. Adam’s musical training is unknown; however, it is said that he started singing as a child. Adam is currently 25 years old today.
Adam’s musical career started when he was 15 and went on Kokhav Nolad, which means a star is born in Hebrew, and is the Israeli version of American Idol. When it was discovered he was only 15 and had lied that he was 16 in order to be allowed on the show, he decided to leave. However, Adam’s name was widely known throughout Israel as he was one of the top finalists on the show. After leaving the show Adam toured throughout Israel and started releasing albums. He gained immense popularity and is currently the most popular Israeli artist today. Occasionally Adam does tour outside of Israel, however his most recent sold out concert in New York was cancelled due to issues with obtaining a visa. Adam’s music has matured throughout the years but remained consistent in style. Adam’s music is a mix of both Western and Middle-Eastern sounds. His music has always been well received, however it is unlikely to ever be popular globally, as Hebrew is spoken by very few people outside of Israel, and Adam’s songs are mainly sung in the language. As Adam is only 25, he is currently not known for anything other than his musical pursuits.
Adam’s song, Modeh Ani, translates as I Thank You, is exemplary of Adam’s song style. Most of Adam’s songs are impacted by his religious beliefs or the land of Israel. In this song he thanks God for everyday things like waking up in the morning and having food to eat. The style of the song is like most of Adam’s work. The timbre may be described as light and breathy, while the rhythmic density is low. Like many of his songs, Modeh Ani features a piano, the guitar, and the drums. The melodic contour goes from low to high throughout the piece, while the text setting is melismatic. There is a constant beat throughout the piece, and the phonic structure is a heterophony. The timbre and style of this song is much like most of Adam’s pieces.
Omer Adam is an Israeli artist who is able to merge the popular sounds of Western music with the spiritual and lively sounds of the Middle East. Adam is able to make Israeli pop music appeal to a variety of people. Adam’s music is able to be liked by those who do not understand Hebrew, as his melodies and voice are enough to draw a person in. I believe Adam may be remembered as one of the greatest musicians in Israel, as well as someone who was able to incorporate their love for Judaism into his music. There are currently no biographies or documentaries about Adam, however he is considered a national pop star in Israel.
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