Dudu Tassa is a popular Israeli musician of Iraqi and Yemeni descent. He is the grandson of Kuwaiti musician Daoud Al-Kuwaiti who, with his brother Saleh Al-Kuwaiti, was a popular and influential musician in the Arab world from the 1930s to the 1950s. The Al-Kuwaiti Brothers are considered some of the creators of modern Iraqi music, and they helped to establish Baghdad’s first broadcasting authority. They were favorites of the king, although their music was banned under Saddam Hussein. Like many Iraqi Jews, they immigrated to Israel in the 1950s when the government made life in Iraq difficult for its Jewish citizens. After their immigration, the Al-Kuwaitis gave up music professionally.
Tassa, who never met his grandfather, came across an old box of tapes of the Al-Kuwaiti Brothers’ recordings, began listening to them, and eventually decided to modernize some of the songs and re-record them in the original Iraqi Arabic, using modern arrangements and musical styles. This has led to three albums, featuring both Jewish and Arab performers from Israel and Iraq, as well as traditional Middle Eastern instruments and melodies. Tassa is part of a group of young Jewish Israeli artists and writers who are reclaiming their Arab heritage and reviving Jewish-Arab culture. This song, “Bint El-Moshab” ("Girl from the Moshav"), was written by the Al-Kuwaitis to celebrate the women working on Israeli moshavim, or agricultural settlements.
Suggested Activity: Watch the video and listen to the song while following along with the translation. The video combines images traditional in celebrations of Israeli pioneering and agricultural efforts, like harvesting, orchards, and fruit, with images and sounds that recall Arab culture, including the veil on the main female character and the language of the song. Have students come up with a list of images from the video and elements of the song that remind them of Jewish culture and, separately, a list of things that remind them of Arab culture. Do these elements seem to go together or are they competing or contrasting? Why? How do the song and the video attempt to reconcile these varied elements?
After discussing the song and video, ask students to connect Dudu Tassa's song to Castel-Bloom's story. How and for what purpose does each work use the Arabic language?