Punk Rock in Israel
Daniel Cohen

History of punk rock, core elements / philosophy, development in Israel
Global roots
o Developed between 1974-1976 (early 70s) in US, UK, Australia
o Derived from garage rock/ protopunk
o Second wave of punk is 1970s, spread throughout rest of Europe and in Asia
Common point in British/American punk: inner cities left to rot
o Allowed intermingling of young people, artists, squatters
o Sick of being ignored and fed up with the post war complacency
Core elements/ philosophy
o Do-it Yourself (DIY) ethic; self produced / distributed
o Musical virtuosity not required (in fact looked at suspiciously); ‘fast and ‘loud’
Development of rock / punk in Israel
o Rock represented rejection of nationalist culture, came to mark openness to dialogue, change
o By 1980s it was dominant form of pop culture in Israel, by 1990s it was compromised by a number of scenes/styles/textures
o Mid-1980s: Tel Aviv became hot-spot for ‘alternative’ rock or that with ‘cutting edge of aesthetic and stylistic innovation in rock’ (Regev-Seroussi pg. 175); post-punk and new-wave rock styles thrived.
o First Intifada (1987-1991) seemed to set the stage for development of punk in Israel; youths fed up of all the violence/ complacency. This was the Palestinian uprising against the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories.

Nature of punk rock in Israel
Punk & Politics
o Punk about protest, freedom, speaking your own mind; believe there is too much apathy in Israel
Israel/Palestine conflict & mandatory military service
o Many punks are youths required to serve in Army, many defy joining by claiming insanity
o Some punks work in the army middle of the week and go to shows to let loose on weekends
o Most punk music supports the Palestinian people (not the Palestinian politicians), are against the occupation, yet have close connection with Israel
o Directly affected by bombings, conflict; leads to fear, frustration, depression, cynicism. Punk life provides ‘escapism’ for every day life.
Israeli punk & religion
o Many punks are not religious, but identify as being Jewish
o Tend to be against religious oppression in any culture, disagree with Orthodox customs and pushing beliefs or customs on people
Generally have positive outlook, optimistic and believe their music and voices are necessary for change

Israeli punk rock sounds / examples

  • State of Fear by Useless I.D. (English vocals); more global appeal with English lyrics, have toured around the world
  • Radio lo chaver (Radio’s Not A Friend) by Beer7; female vocal lead, paved way for female punks – music video shows light spirited antics of punk rock
  • Mi Aatam by Chaos Rabak; popular punk band in Israel, style reminiscent of UK late 70s punk rock

Discussion/ open question:
Does the notion of ‘globalized Israeliness’ imply that music, specifically musical genres such as punk, are universal in that they translate seamlessly from one culture to another? How does punk in Israel support or refute your claims?

Note: ‘globalized Israeliness’ is a mixture of Hebrewism and effects of globalization of culture, according to Regev & Seroussi.

References:
Christgau, Robert, “Please Kill Me: The Uncensored Oral History of Punk, by Legs McNeil and Gillian McCain” (review), New York Times Book Review, 1996. Retrieved
on January 17, 2007. http://www.robertchristgau.com/xg/bkrev/mcneil-nyt.php
McLaren, Malcolm, “Punk Celebrates 30 Years of Subversion”, BBC News, August 18, 2006. Retrieved on January 17, 2006
Nord, L. (Director). (2006). “Jericho’s Echo: Punk Rock in the Holy Land” [Documentary]. United States. http://www.jerichosecho.com/
Regev, Motti and Edwin Seroussi. Popular Music and National Culture in Israel, University of California Press, Berkeley 2004

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