4/2/12The shrill voice of Israel - Haaretz Daily Newspaper | Israel News2/3www.haaretz.com/print-edition/opinion/the-shrill-voice-of-israel-1.415483
Members of the Palmach prestate underground would sing around thecampfire, and when they hastily prepared the illegal immigrants onboard the Exodus in 1947, they told them to arrive at the shores of British-controlled Palestine singing with all their might. Their singingwas in the spirit of the Red Army and the partisans in occupied Europe- a collective song, like that of a choir.To this day, sing-alongs are still a popular Israeli national pastime.There have also been times this has gone beyond a cultural expressionto become a form of real defiance, as in "We will not stop singing" - thename given to the first season of the Israeli television song contest,now known as "A star is born." An echo of this spirit can be found in arecent film clip of the foreign minister grabbing the microphone andkilling the national anthem from beginning to end. An amateur singeris allowed to sing off-key here and there, but when Avigdor Liebermancannot hit even one note correctly during Hatikva this is areverberating metaphor.In recent years, Israelis have also learned that singing, provided it iscarried out by the female half of the world's population, can be apretext for acts of madness. Soldiers and public figures leaveceremonies on that account while citing a new and dubious precept of Jewish religious law, and a rabbi who holds an official governmentposition has declared that he prefers to face a firing squad rather thanlisten to women's voices. If only from this point of view, the amazingsuccess of the TV program, "The Voice," is a welcome message: There,thank God, women are still allowed to open their mouths.However, that program has one fault that is so basic that it is amazingthat none of the musicians involved in its production have noticed it.In its second and prolonged stage, the competitors compete againstone another in a duet. In order to drive home the point, they areplaced on a stage that looks like a boxing ring. But that is absurd.Singing together is not a confrontation that is decided by a knock-out;its success is supposed to be based on harmony, interaction andcoordination.The program's format was supposedly bought from a Dutch company,but there is something quintessentially Israeli about it - and somethingvery depressing, too, in the festive renunciation of a multitude of voices and shared interests in favor of one loud and victorious voiceabove all the others. That is true of musical duets, but also with regardto solving conflicts and conducting diplomatic processes. It is the storyof the lost honor of harmony.
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