Resuscitating Israeli Punk


The thing about punk in Israel is that it’s basically just like punk everywhere else: kind of boring, mostly apolitical, and more often than not sung in English. Conversations about the root causes of (sub)cultural hegemony aside, I feel like that sort of thing is especially glaring in a place that is as … Israel, as Israel is.

That’s why I was incredibly stoked to find out about Jarada (on Facebook at Jarada666,) a new band out of Tel Aviv that’s the opposite of all that. Very heavy and dissonant raw political punk with lyrics in Hebrew, which makes the most sense because why would you try and address, for example, the ongoing occupation, or the treatment of African migrant workers, or any of it, in English?

To be honest, this is the band that as an Israeli with left-wing radical politics I’ve been waiting for since I started listening to punk 20+ years ago. Not trying to take anything away from the members of Urban Skate Fanatics, Nekhei Naatza, Deir Yassin, and everyone else who very much created punk in Israel back in the early 90s, but it’s been a while since there’s been something like this.

As Gutzy, another long-term veteran of the punk scene there, put it in his post last month that tipped me off about the band, Jarada is proof that punk in Israel is going back to being absolutely punishing, politically relevant, and sung in Hebrew, which is important.

We recently got the chance to chat with Jarada’s guitarist David about the band, their history, and what their plans are for the future.

Souciant: When did the band start and why did you start it?

Jarada: We have been friends for years and years, playing in bands together, and we are part of a collective that operates a rehearsal room and space for punk shows. We felt a vacuum in punk in Israel – along with the political situation, of course – so we started a band that plays fast, angry music and sings political lyrics in Hebrew. We are talking about Israel, so there is no reason to sing in another language.

Souciant: What are your goals as a political band, especially in a scene that has become less political?

Jarada: The goal was to remind people and first of all to remind ourselves that punk is a political movement in every way. Even if you do not go to demonstrations in the Occupied Territories every week it is important to bring up political issues, even with the people in your scene who already agree with you.

Thankfully, we are not alone and there is a wave of bands that talk about politics and as a result, the political conversation begins to trickle down to the scene as a whole.

For example, nearly 300 people came to a concert we organized prior to a large demonstration against the expulsion of refugees and afterwards, a large group went from there to the demonstration. This is the first sign of awakening from political apathy in my opinion.

Souciant: Who are the other similar bands currently playing in Israel?

Jarada: Nifdeket, Tarbut Ra’ah, Mavet Ba Arisa, Halem, Mitromemut.

Souciant: What are your influences, both music and politics? Do you see this as a continuation of the Israeli punk scene when it was the most political or starting something new?

Jarada: From a political standpoint there is no doubt that we have been influenced heavily by the older Israeli scene. Nekhei Naatza and Deir Yassin were my gateways to radical leftist/anarchist politics.

Musically these are also bands that we like very much. That, coupled with the rise of raw punk bands that play fast, are sonically more difficult to digest and have a more negative, angry tone gave us the urge to play something like that. We’ve all been punk for about 15 years and hardcore punk is very much our foundation.

Souciant: What are your plans for the future? Will you be touring at all?

Jarada: We’re currently working on putting out the EP on vinyl in the US and Europe, writing and recording a lot more songs, and I guess the future will decide for us if there will be a tour or not.

Photograph courtesy of Malkiella Benchabat. All rights reserved.