Is Israel ready for an Arab Mizrahi singer? When I posed the question to Nasreen Qadri, the 28-year-old vocalist, in the sleek offices of the Tel Aviv PR firm that represents her, she put her hands on the table and raised her voice in exasperation, cutting me off. “Do you know how many people have asked me that?”
Qadri’s an up-and-coming face in the Israeli pop music scene, and her music straddles two of the most volatile fault lines in Israeli society today. An Arab Muslim trying to make it in the mainstream Hebrew music business, Qadri is inevitably judged not just for her art but for what that art might say about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Her choice to sing Mizrahi, or Eastern, music—one of the first Arab musicians to do so—is no less fraught. With roots in the musical traditions of immigrants from the Middle East and North Africa who came to Israel in the 1950s and ’60s, this genre developed as part of the counterculture of these Mizrahi Jews and their descendants, many of whom were—and still feel—discriminated against by the country’s Ashkenazi elite.
Read the whole story from 2015 in Tablet.