TEL AVIV – Music by a trio of Jewish Israeli sisters has become hugely popular in the Arab world, most notably in Yemen, the Washington Post reported.
The sisters, who sing in a Yemeni dialect of Arabic, are descendants of Yemenite Jews who currently live in Tel Aviv, Israel.
The sisters, Tair Liron and Tage Haim, formed a band called A-Wa (“yes” in Arabic slang) and released a single, “Habib Galbi” (“Love of My Heart”). Its music video garnered more than two million views on YouTube. Watch the video below:
What makes the song special is that it is a modernized version of an ancient poem passed down orally through generations of women. The Jewish sisters attempt to fuse “near-extinct Yemenite poetry with fast-paced hip-hop and electronic beats.”
The comments on YouTube include many from fans in Arab countries that do not have diplomatic relations with Israel, including Yemen. Ofra Haza, the late Israeli Jewish singer of Yemenite descent, was also adored by Arabs in Yemen and parts of the Middle East, and many credited her for bridging the divide between Jews and Arabs.
“At first we did not communicate that we are from Israel, we just released the video of ‘Habib Galbi.’ We wanted people to listen and respond naturally,” one of the sisters, Tagel, tells the Washington Post.
“We knew we would get comments from Yemen because it is an old Yemenite song, but it was surprising and amazing to get comments from other Arab countries, too. Even when people found out we are from Israel, the comments were still good and people said they loved our music,” said middle sister Liron.
Although it is impossible for A-Wa to perform in Yemen, they have put on sold-out concerts in Europe and Israel. National Public Radio recently named the group one of the top 10 global music acts of 2015.
Around 50,000 Yemenite Jews were airlifted to Israel in a clandestine operation called Operation Magic Carpet between 1949 and 1950. Today, the civil war that is ravaging Yemen is making it increasingly urgent to extract the few hundred Jews that remain in the country.