Idan Raichel on WNYC's The Take Away

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Wednesday January 23, 2013


An Israeli Musician Reflects on His Country’s Politics Through Song
Interviewer: John Hockenberry

Today is election day in Israel, the end of a contentious campaign season on fraught political territory.

As domestic issues such as job creation and immigration tended to obscure foreign policy questions in the 2012 U.S. presidential campaign, Israelis have focused their election season on the country’s debt problem, and whether Israeli Arabs and the ultra-Orthodox should have to serve in the military.

Few politicians have addressed the Palestinian conflict, or Israel’s difficult relationship with its neighbors, but Idan Raichel, the Israeli singer-songwriter behind the Idan Raichel Project, attempts to reach his country’s enemies through music.

The Idan Raichel Project is a multi-ethnic, multilingual collaboration of ninety musicians, including many Israeli immigrants from Yemen, Ethiopia and South Africa. Raichel says that the group’s mission is to “bring the voices of the minorities to the Israeli mainstream.”

As in the United States, immigration continues to shape Israeli culture. “Every ten or fifteen years, “ Raichel explains, “there is a new immigration that changes the face of Israeli society.” Raichel’s music reflects those very diverse voices.”

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