ISRAEL: A-WA – Hana Mash Hu Al Yaman

A-WA is a really interesting band in terms of identity – the Haim sisters are Israeli, but their family were Yemenite Jews who came to Israel as part of Operation Magic Carpet in 1949-50. This massive exodus moved the vast majority of Jews living in the Arab peninsula to Israel, both due to persecution and instability at home, and the draw of the newly created Israel. The aliyah over the 20th century was so complete that in 1947, there were approx 55,000 Jews in Yemen, while as of 2018 there may only be 50 left.

Both the stretched logistics of resettling 50,000 people and the internal prejudices and tensions inside Israeli society between different backgrounds of Judaism (especially Ashkenazi vs. Sephardic and Mizrahi) meant that a lot of Yemenite Jews faced a hard start in Israel. A-WA‘s Hana Mash Hu Al Yaman, sung in Arabic, is a sharp critique and a tension over belonging.

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