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The Israel-Palestine Lorde Diaries, chapter 14: Not alone

What can bring hope in times of weak spirit? How about a teardrop, a social network, a Russian soprano and a faithful ex-lover.

Part 14 of 15. To read the rest of the series, click here.


The war never broke out in earnest, but my mood was not quick to recover. One thing did brighten things up, however: I was invited to speak on Radio New Zealand. Attentive producer Jeremy Rose caught sight of the very first post in this series and wrote me instantly. On the last night of January 31, 2015, which in New Zealand was the first morning of February, I spoke on air with host Wallace Chapman, scrambling for a way to describe my project. I was no longer sure what it was or where it was headed, if anywhere.

Kiwi radio turned out to offer a winning combination of British courteousness and South Pacific relaxation. The interview lasted a full half hour, which allowed us to discuss plenty of issues and complexities. It wasn’t enough, though; my spirit had not recovered. I fell behind on writing the posts, gave up on looking for a Yiddish translator, and ceased bugging Shai-li Jamchid about her mother’s French translation of Royals. I was exhausted. Can you blame me? The Lorde Project isn’t my first frustrating attempt at shaking things up in this land of perpetual struggle.

Take central Hebron. For ten years now I have been active in trying to open its streets to Palestinian pedestrians, some of whom live on those streets, and may only leave their homes through the rooftops. I offered free tours of the city’s settler-dominated center, and wrote and published pieces on the issue anywhere I could. Nothing changed. Over that same decade, my friends and  I have marched against imprisonment without trial, against deportation of children and arrest of children and in solidarity with all the groups dehumanized by the state, not to mention economic injustice. We have written posts and op-eds, tweets and banners, songs and theater plays.

In literally every field that matters to us, things have only deteriorated. With the waning of democracy in Israel, we are now framed as traitors. Hate speech is so out of control that we have become used to receiving death threats, garnished with wild references to sexual violence. We are used to it...

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The Israel-Palestine Lorde diaries, chapter 13: Overwhelmed

In this country, looking at things differently can really get your head spinning.

Part 13 of 15. To read the rest of the series, click here.


And so the project took a real conceptual shift. There was no denying it: this was the same shift my own political views took in recent years. Once I strongly believed in the dichotomy, and consequently in a two-state solution. Here is how I saw the map: west of the Green line, folks should sing Lorde in Hebrew. East of it: in Arabic. By now, however, and due to more developments and learning than I could dream to list here, I was more in the mindset of giving up lines and making sure every individual between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea is well off.

I began to dream of a single democratic system, wherein any individual could raise whichever flag they wanted, but where that flag would not override principle human rights and the value of equality. The problem is one of dominance. One society maintains violent dominance over the other. Encouraging both societies to embrace their myriad identities is one way to promote equality. Once they would no longer conceive of themselves as a pair of boxers in a ring, once the identities are legion rather than two, no single one would have the right or power to override others.

This sort of thinking is seen as subversive in today’s Israel, but here is what I learned from Mira Awad on that long ride north: in order for the Lorde tribute to succeed, it has to be subversive. The most subversive act is to not think the way we are told to think. My life I was told to think about “us” and “them.” Even in the hopeful 90s, when “they” were potential partners for peace, they were still “them.” The Lorde Project finally allowed me to decisively get past this paradigm. I stopped thinking about collaborating with the other. We were all “us” and we were all “others” — an idea that undermines both Zionism and Palestinian nationalism. I loved it.

The easy part’s over now

Ruthie had a meeting in a part of the city where meetings aren’t often held. She was going to the Hatikva neighborhood, a working class quarter just east of the highway that marks...

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The Israel-Palestine Lorde Diaries, chapter 12: Never be Royals?

When the going gets tough, the only way to move forward is to think differently. Following the disheartening drive from the South, the Lorde tribute project picks a new direction.

Part 12 of 15. To read the rest of the series, click here.


Friday was the last day of the rainy spell. The brave editor of this series, Mike Schaeffer Omer-Man, and Emily, his human rights lawyer wife, had us over for a hummus brunch in Jaffa. Beyond their apartment’s large French windows were the comely, winter-gray Mediterranean and something even grayer: a concrete ruin, an abandoned high rise that used to house offices of the customs authority.

I stood by those windows with a glass of Jaffa coffee, gazing at both grays with a spirit that wasn’t much more rainbow-like. “I’m giving up on the project,” I told Mike, “I rode all the way from the desert last night with Mira Awad. She convinced me that this isn’t a time for collaborations, not of this sort, at least. The situation has deteriorated too far. Anyone with any sense just wants to scream, and my project doesn’t qualify as a scream.”

He gave an understanding nod.

“I’m up to chapter 11 in the written account. Chapter 12 will be the last. I recorded one song with Yaron. We’ll find something to do with it.”

He nodded again. Did I want him to argue? To cause me to change my mind?

“Tomorrow I have a meeting with this vocal duo in Jerusalem, ‘The Djamchid Sisters.’ Yaron likes them. I’ll go and rehearse with them, but I’m not sure we’ll even record it. We’ll never be royals,” I coughed a bitter, pea-sized laugh, “we’ll never be on each other’s team, not until we reduce a little bit of the injustice here and calm some of the anger.” Mike knew all about that. You see a lot of it when you edit for +972. At times I even wondered whether he himself was somewhat offended by my jolly musical flight of fancy. “I mean, dude, I knew this was weird all along. I knew it. I just wanted to be the change I’d like to see in the world. Get it? Little acts of togetherness enable progress, but then, only progress enables them, but then, only they enable progress. It’s a chicken and egg thing....

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The Israel-Palestine Lorde Diaries, chapter 11: The lift

It’s cease or desist for the Lorde project, as Yuval gets a rare opportunity for a long nocturnal drive with a great musician.

Part 11 of 15. For more, click here.


We all packed up into a seven-seater Suburban: Mira Awad, three other actors and myself. Yigal Ezrati, Jaffa Theater’s director, was the driver. Clearly I couldn’t bring up the project right way, so I was quiet, which brought about an uneasy silence. We pulled into a gas station by the adjacent kibbutz. Yigal left the car to fuel. Mira hummed something, she was in a lovely mood.

“So why are you here?” Einat Weizman, the actress sitting shotgun, turned back and asked me.

“I came for the poetry festival,” I lied, but this little white lie warmed up the quiet car with some well needed, lively chat about the current state of Hebrew poetry. Einat was well versed in the scene. We found that we both admire a group of Mizrahi poets that have recently made a powerful political and poetic stand. “Tehila Hakimi! Adi Keissar!” Einat named two, “I’m crazy about them.”

“You should turn back now, then. They’ll both be reading at the festival tomorrow. I wish I could, too. I’m a fan, a real fan, the same way I am with Lorde,” and I turned my eyes to Mira, who was sitting to my left.

She smiled and said, “We have to talk about this.”

Yigal returned and we resumed our northbound journey. The darkness about us was interrupted first by the bright lights of military installments, then by the far fainter ones of Bedouin shanty towns. Mira spoke: “If you were to say to me, let’s take this great poetry, say, Adi Keissar’s poetry, and do a project with it. I would say yes right away. It’s Hebrew stuff, it’s poetry, we could combine it with Arabic poetry and do something local and special. I would love this, but Lorde, why Lorde?”

“Because that’s what makes it interesting! You bring in something foreign and see how things stir. Look, Lorde’s stuff is political in its own way, but in the context of this country it appears neutral. I’m trying to demonstrate how political things get here even when the subject matter is neutral.”

“Everything is political,” Mira decreed.

“Sure, everything is.”

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The Israel-Palestine Lorde diaries, chapter 10: Law of desire

The story takes a southern turn, as Yuval heads into the desert for a possible rendezvous with an elusive star, and has disturbing thoughts on the way.

Click here to read the previous chapters of the ‘Israel-Palestine Lorde Diaries’

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And so I was left with no choice. I had to travel to a freezing desert plateau, where I would chase Mira Awad and try to make her change her mind.

The way to Sde Boker by public transportation begins with a 70-minute train ride to Be’er Sheva. At Tel Aviv’s Hahagana station I bumped into another traveler headed for the same poetry festival. It was quirky Israeli electro-pop musician Yael Birenbaum, the bespectacled leader of the uber hipstery band Jack in the Box. I described my mission to her.

“So you’re going to make a move on Mira Awad?” she giggled.

“I guess you could say so, but I also brought some olives, and good Turkish cheese and a bottle of whiskey.”

“Why?” she snickered, “so you can seduce Mira Awad?”

“No, stupid! So you and I and the other poetry people can sit around late at night and shoot the shit.”

I have been attending the festival religiously for years. Yael is always there and I have learned to take her humor with a grain of desert sand. Still, while watching the rainy suburbs thin away through the train window, I couldn’t help but muse over a concept I have hitherto kept out of my thoughts, for obvious reasons. It was the concept of eroticizing.

The awkward situation at the Willy Brandt center played out much like a failed date. It was enough to make one wonder: what was the role of Eros in this story? Was I eroticizing Lorde? Now, there was a disturbing thought. She was so young! I supposed she was a fantasy, though less my own than of my frequently-infatuated high-school self. Glorifying her was a sort of emotional and intellectual time travel.

What concerned me more was the idea that I was eroticizing Palestine. To me, the power structure in the country reads a lot like a severely abusive relationship. Both spouses are violent, but Israel is the physically superior, controlling one — the one with the key to the basement. This is traditionally a masculine role. I did not identify with...

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The Israel-Palestine Lorde Diaries, chapter 9: The Arab Lorde

 Two nights in Jerusalem bring many a new acquaintance, and make things seem so much simpler— or complicated.

Click here to read the previous chapters of the ‘Israel-Palestine Lorde Diaries’

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Winter was only getting more severe, which presented a dilemma. Being a poetry lover, I head south each year for a poetry festival held in the heart of the desert, at the Sde Boker boarding school. This year I contemplated skipping. Sde Boker is perched atop a steep mesa, overlooking a dramatic canyon and is perfectly exposed to desert winds that can be vicious when winter is earnest. The poets are put up in rooms that often lack windows and where the heating rarely functions. Why would I do this to myself?

On the other hand, I heard that Mira Awad was due to perform there, in a theater play based on the poems of Mahmoud Darwish. I could brave the cold and try and have a word with her. This could prove a very false step. I may never reach her there. I could end up traveling hours into the frozen desert for an awkward moment that would result in nothing. Was the gamble worth it?

I had a whole week to contemplate, and it was a busy one. On Monday I attended a Jerusalem Kiwi gathering. Michelle (the guest on our New Zealand radio program) invited me to meet a group of school teachers who came for a program at Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust museum. I also got to meet her super-sweet, Wellington-born mother, Sue, who is aware of my obsessions and brought me some Marmite from the old country. “Keep the ziplock bag, too,” she offered with a wink, “It’s also from New Zealand.”

While we waited for the teachers around a table at “Mike’s Place,” Michelle told of the annual gathering of New Zealand expatriates in Israel. It takes place at Kibbutz Yizrael, up north. “You haven’t seen anything,” she said, “until you’ve seen a bunch of Polish and Hungarian Jews whose families left Europe before the war standing in the heart of the Middle East, which is where they ended up, doing a Haka in piupiu skirts.”

The teachers were exceedingly sweet and very curious about the living politics of the region. I ended up playing the radical outsider to Yad Vashem’s...

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The Israel-Palestine Lorde Diaries, chapter 8: Mizrahi vibrations

There’s more to Israeli music than your typical Do-Re-Mi, but as our heroes try to explore new scales, they run into a false note.

Click here to read the previous chapters of the ‘Israel-Palestine Lorde Diaries’


The storm was beating relentlessly at our shutters. It was too cold to go out to Nehama, too rainy to meet up and record. Yaron and I chatted online instead.

“I want one of the Israeli songs we do to be Mizrahi,” he wrote.

This was a good enough and important enough of an idea that it warrants a break from the anyway hibernating storyline to bring you a brief outline of Israeli musical history.

Zionism was born in Russia, and the first Zionist songs were Russian folk songs. Just ahead of the turn of the 20th century, Jewish immigrants began bringing Kalinka Kalinka sounds into a land with a very un-Russian groove, a land of Dabke and Mejana.

Later waves of European immigration brought some new influences and a little more openness. Yemenite Jews, who founded communities in the Holy Land starting in the early 1900s, had their own distinctly Middle Eastern groove. But for the most part, a dichotomy reigned, and at the time of Israel’s establishment Israeli music remained largely Slavic, while Palestinian music was Arab.

Enter the Cold War. The young State of Israel gradually turned into a small outpost of American interests in the Middle East, and with the yearly stipend came cultural baggage. The Russian pathos was largely replaced with American folk strumming. Mainstream Israeli musicians also found inspiration in Latin American “Nueva Cancion,” in French Chanson and eventually in rock. They seldom looked to the region for musical gifts. Arabs were the enemy, and their strange scales and use of quarter tones were a threat.

Meanwhile, a new musical civilization was brewing under the radar. Jews of Middle Eastern origins, most of whom arrived in the country during the ’50s, were making their own music. It was influenced by all sorts of Arabic and Mediterranean styles: from Moroccan and Yemenite to Greek and Turkish.

Mizrahi Jews (a term more comprehensive than “Sepharadic,” since it applies also to the communities of Iran and Arabia) make up at least half of Israel’s Jewish population, yet their music was rejected by the powerful hegemony. During my...

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The Israel-Palestine Lorde Diaries, chapter 7: Bus jammin'

Ironically, it’s a break from music-making and partner-searching that produces a first duet, and with a very special musician, too.

Read the previous chapters of The Israel-Palestine Lorde Diaries here.

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On the fifth morning of the tour, after having breakfast at the group’s Jerusalem hotel, I climbed aboard the bus and found that we had a young guest. It was Husam’s 12-year-old daughter, Mayar. He explained that school is still out for the winter holidays. He thought it would be nice to take her to the Israel Museum with us.

At first I was amazed to see Mayar on this side of the wall. Her father, I knew, could travel through freely thanks to his job as a tour guide. He is one of about 5 percent of West Bank Palestinians who have permits to visit Israel. Often he is held up at the checkpoint in the mornings, but usually makes it through. Mayar was no tour guide, however. I soon remembered that she is a “Jerusalem Palestinian,” thanks to her mother, and therefore a bit more legally empowered. Besides, she is too young for travel limitations to apply.

She had never visited the museum before, and the group was about to explore it on its own so I offered myself as private guide. I was thrilled for the chance to show a West Bank kid around this bastion of Israeli culture. Mayar is a history buff, so first Husam and I took her to the archaeology department but we ended up discovering impressionist art as well, and even visiting the historical synagogues that were brought here from around the world.

I remember Husam speaking of his children to one of the groups. “I do all I can to prevent them from hating Israelis,” he said, “I introduce them to my Israeli friends, I show them that they are kind people, but I know that when my kids grow up, all of this will be useless. They will hate Israelis. My daughters see every day how the soldiers treat their mother at the checkpoint. They don’t treat her as a human being.”

My war against this young girl’s disdain was futile, but I was fighting it in style, with the help of Van Gogh.

The demon

We got back to the bus, ready to head out of...

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The Israel-Palestine Lorde diaries, Chapter 6: Crossing over

It’s time for the local Lorde tribute to go over the Line, in more than one way.  

Read the previous chapters of The Israel-Palestine Lorde Diaries here.


On Boxing Day we traveled down to Bethlehem. We were five: my girlfriend Ruthie, three members of her research team (she is a doctoral student of social psychology) and yours truly. We have all been to Bethlehem before, where Israelis seldom venture. Like other Palestinian cities in the West Bank, Bethlehem is designated “Area A.” According to Israeli law, it is illegal for us to be present in Area A, and most are scared off by cautionary tales that dehumanize the Palestinians living in these cities, describing them as vicious savages that will tear a Jewish visitor to shreds.

Ruthie and I choose to ignore both the law and the fears. It is our little act of civil disobedience, and we know which checkpoints are safe for us to use – the ones intended for settlers, where being profiled as a Hebrew speaker is enough to get you through. Two of the research partners, Eric and Nevin, are foreign nationals, to whom neither law nor fears apply.

The fifth traveler was Siwar, a cool, sharp-minded Galilee Palestinian. Siwar’s brother, Asil, was shot by Israeli police in October of 2000, in an outburst of unchecked police violence that left 13 Arab citizens dead in the north of Israel, and was the predecessor to the horrors of the Second Intifada. The story of her loss came up before we even passed Ben-Gurion Airport. This was going to be an interesting day.

Traveling to the West Bank is interesting regardless of the company. We would be caught had we used the main checkpoint, so we crossed the Green Line on a road paved for settlers and their guests. It boasts an imposing bridge and two tunnels, much like a Swiss highway. Rather than cut through mountain ranges, the tunnels here run below Palestinian neighborhoods and villages, allowing the settlers to avoid them. Outside the tunnels, enormous concrete walls shield the road from stone-throwing. The actual separation barrier is only vaguely visible from the road and the checkpoint is extremely relaxed. The system ensures that settlers should never feel they have left Israel.

Having crossed over, we turned to a side road and entered the tiny...

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The Israel-Palestine Lorde Diaries, chapter 5: The future

The team gets the hottest recruit this side of the separation barrier.

Read the previous chapters of The Israel-Palestine Lorde Diaries here.


“He who wishes to fly must first learn to walk,” said Nietzsche, and I say: before teaming up with Palestinians, an Israeli Lorde fan must find Israeli partners. Yaron surprised me with snobbery, and rejected many names we discussed. Only with one did he seem truly confident. Fortunately, she is my personal friend: the super talented Shira Z. Carmel.

Shira is an impossibly diverse artist. Over the years that I have known her, she formed and headed no less than four separate outfits: an offbeat jazz quartet, an accordion duo that only performs Yiddish poetry from the Russian province of Birobidjan, a post-doo-wop trio named “The Hazelnuts,” and an avant-garde brass band. Most interesting to me are her experiments with Israeli songs in the Mizrahi style, which she turns into French Chansons and hip-hop tunes.

A few years ago, when the city of Jerusalem chose Shira to curate an event for an art festival, she decided to pull together a tribute to a pop goddess of her own liking: the inimitable Ms. Beyoncé Knowles. I was invited to participate, and did “Irreplaceable” with a cellist and my angry ex-girlfriend Osnat, who hadn’t spoken to me much since the break up.

Here how it happened: I figured in advance that Osnat would be present at the tribute concert, being a Jerusalemite and a good friend of Shira’s. I dreaded singing about a rough separation while she is in the audience, that would just be too awkward, so I invited her to chime in. Osnat agreed and composed a spoken-word piece that dealt entirely with me and what an asshole I am. She rapped it while the cellist and I repeated “to the left to the left,” and we have been close friends ever since that night. That was my first, successful experience with cross-conflict musical tributes.

I wasn’t sure Shira would play along. I knew her to be Lorde-skeptic. She and I used to co-host a radio program on Israel’s Army radio, a program about travel. I became conscious of Lorde toward the end of the program’s life span, mentioned her on air a few times and was surprised at my co-host’s lack of enthusiasm. “Lorde Lorde Lorde…” she mimicked...

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The Israel-Palestine Lorde Diaries, Chapter 4: Azizi will judge

Part four, in which our heroes find a jar of rare yeast spread, and have a wonderful time chuckling at ‘Google Translate.’

Read the previous chapters of The Israel-Palestine Lorde Diaries’ here.


On Tuesday I wrote Hanin: “It’s time to look for a singer. You said you knew a few.” There was no response that day, nor the following. I told myself to be patient.

On Friday I read a spectacular op-ed in Haaretz, authored by none other than Mira Awad, the same Galilee-born Palestinian singer whom Hanin rejected. Awad wrote about going out for drinks with a mixed group of Arab and Jewish friends (she is a rare person whose friends would naturally be mixed). They went to an Arab-owned pub in the north of Israel where the television was tuned to Arab Idol, the hottest competition this side of the Nile. A Palestinian named Haitham Khalailah reached the finals, and was competing against a Saudi and Syrian.

Awad’s op-ed was titled “Nightingale in a Cage,” and dealt with the risk Khalailah faced upon returning home. Like Awad and Hanin, Khalailah belongs to the minority of Palestinians who are citizens of Israel, known to us – but seldom self-identified – as “Israeli Arabs.” Lebanon, where the finals were held, is designated as an “enemy country,” meaning that any Israeli citizen who ventures there, Jewish or Arab, faces arrest and interrogation upon return.

One of Awad’s Jewish-Israeli friends suggested they all text the network and vote for Khalailah. The number was in Lebanon, a country that was only minutes away by car, but fenced off and inaccessible. Was it possible to text there?

“I looked at her, greatly moved,” Awad wrote, “awkward as it is to admit, I guess I no longer took it for granted that there would not be a drop of a judgmental expression on her face, a bit of hidden accusation, a bit of ‘Why does he call himself a Palestinian and not an Israeli?’ or ‘What is he doing in an enemy country’ or ‘Why is he wearing a kaffiyeh?’ or ‘What’s he doing, singing that Palestine is Arab?’ She simply asked, full of expectation, ‘Where do I send the text message?’ What should have been the most natural thing in the world seemed like a gift to me. My new friends were sitting in the...

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The Israel-Palestine Lorde Diaries, Chapter 3: Two Islands

Between general despair and out of fear of offending the anti-normalization movement, the project moves on and Lorde makes an unlikely fan. 

Read the previous chapters of The Israel-Palestine Lorde Diaries’ here.


More than a week has passed and I haven’t heard from Hanin. I figured we need find another translator. Meanwhile, Jewish-Arab partnership in this unholy land received a major blow. Vandals set fire to Jerusalem’s “Hand in Hand” school, one of a tiny handful of bilingual schools in the country. The arsonists turned out to be activists with “Lehava,” the same organization to which I dedicated my version of “Team.” They piled textbooks in the middle of a first grade classroom to make their initial bonfire.

I traveled over to Yaron’s apartment to record some more of my own music, but we ended up doing two translations. One was “Te Recuerdo Amanda” by Chilean legend Victor Jara; the other, “It’s a Hard Life” by country songstress Nancy Griffith. Both Hebrew versions alluded to the rotten realities of home. The factory boy in Jara’s song turned into a Palestinian political inmate. Griffith sings of barbed wire strung along Belfast’s Falls Road. I replaced it with the concrete of our separation barrier.

The following day I came within sight of that wall, guiding a group in Jerusalem (that’s my day job). Once done, I wandered through pleasant wintertime West Jerusalem, thinking of the tours that were canceled following the summer’s war, about the school arson and the upcoming elections.

All these things are tied together. Lehava’s existence is no fluke. Our leaders busy themselves with fear-mongering and sowing alienation. Their hate speech bears fruit, producing fire and drawing fire. Jerusalem had been near the point of combustion for a few weeks now: Palestinians murdered ultra-Orthodox worshipers at a synagogue, possibly seeking to avenge a Palestinian boy, who was burned alive by someone who’s father attended that synagogue. The murder of the boy was itself described as revenge for the murder of three settler kids, and so on, infinitely.

Privately executed animosities are answered by systematized ones. Entire neighborhoods in Jerusalem were closed off and put under extreme surveillance by the paramilitary corps that controls the lives of Jerusalem Palestinians. Attackers ran over passengers at light rail stations, while...

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The Israel-Palestine Lorde Diaries, Chapter 2: Casino San Remo

Yuval Ben-Ami and his gang are going where no man or woman has gone before: They are trying to produce a bilingual, bi-national album based on the songs of pop prodigy Lorde. The only problem: The gang itself is homogenous to the core. An insurmountable challenge?  

For the entire Israel-Palestine Lorde Diaries, click here.


A week after our Yemenite feast, I met with Yaron to start working out the details. “I have a title for the EP,” I told him, “I want it to be ‘העונה לתספורת קצרה,’ that’s ‘Buzzcut Season,’ the name of one of Lorde’s songs. I think it’s her best.”

Yaron was fine with that.

There was of course, the other thing. “I Think it should be named ‘Buzzcut Season’ in Arabic, too. I want it to be a co-production, Palestinian-Israeli. Anything that has to do with Lorde is out of control. The world may find this interesting, and if it does, I don’t want for it to be exclusively Hebrew, Jewish-Israeli. I’m over that.”

We were sitting at the cafe across from my house, in the largely residential heart of Tel Aviv. The environment here was far more homogeneous than in the Yemenite quarter. You never know what someone’s backgrounds is, but everyone at least appeared to be central Tel Aviv Ashkenazi.

Yaron, ever open minded, reacted just as fondly. “I have a contact for Mira Awad,” he said. “Maybe she’d like to get involved.”

It sounded too good to be true. Mira Awad is something of an actual star. A Palestinian citizen of Israel, she is known for her openness to collaborate with Jewish-Israeli musicians. She even represented Israel at the Eurovision song contest, alongside Hebrew songstress Ahinoam Nini, known internationally as “Noa.”

“So that’s great,” I said, “We have Mira Awad. Now all we need is someone to translate a few songs into Arabic for her.”

“We don’t have Mira Awad,” Yaron said, throwing cold water on my sudden confidence, “I have a contact for her. That’s all.”

This rang a bell. In a recent episode of “South Park,” the gang of cartoon misfits decides to throw a party to boost their popularity. One kid, Stan, tells his peers that a colleague of his father is Lorde’s uncle, so he could probably get Lorde to come and play at their party. From...

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