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Culture of Israel

Israeli culture is inseparable from the Jewish culture which preceded it (i.e. dated earlier than the Israeli Declaration of Independence, in May 14 1948). However, this article concerns only the cultural aspects of the modern Israeli state.

Table of contents
1 Poetry and Literature
2 Plastic Art
3 Music
4 Film and Theatre
5 Comedy and Satire

Poetry and Literature

The modern Hebrew poetry of the first two or three decades is considered by many to be among the most remarkable achievements of Israeli culture, especially the poetry of the 1950's and 1960's, which introduced modern Hebrew poetry, as opposed to the more conservative poetry written before, such as that of Natan Alterman, Abraham Shlonsky and Leah Goldberg. Critics generally agree that the three main figures in the modern poetry of the first decades ("Dor-Hamedina" - Hebrew for "The State Generation") were Yehudah Amichai, Nathan Zach, Naomi Shemer and David Avidan.

Israeli writers such as A.B. Yehoshua, Amos Oz, Efraim Kishon are known world-wide but the best knowm writer is the Nobel Prize winner, Shmuel Yosef Agnon.

Plastic Art


The Israeli music is very versatile and combines elements of both western and eastern music. It tends to be very eclectic and contains a wide variety of influences from the Diaspora and more modern cultural importation. Hassidic songs, Asian and Arab pop, especially Yemenite singers, and hip hop or heavy metal.

National\\Folk Music

Termed in Hebrew שירי ארץ ישראל היפה ("The songs of the beautiful land of Israel"), folk songs are meant mainly to be sung in public by the audience or in social events. Some are children's songs; some combine European folk tunes with Hebrew lyrics; some come from military bands and others were writtem by poets such as Naomi Shemer and Chaim Nachman Bialik.

Those songs are very canonical and often deal with Zionist hopes and dream and glorify the life of idealistic Jewish youth who intend on building a home and defending their homeland. Tempo varies widely, as do the content. Some songs show a leftist or right-wing bent, while others are typically love songs, lullabies or other formats; some are also socialist in subject, due to the long-standing influence of socialism on Jews in parts of the Diaspora.

Patriotic folk songs are common, mostly written during the Israeli wars. They typically concern themselves with soldiers' friendships and the sadness of death during war. Some are now played at memorials or holidays dedicated to the Israeli dead.

Well-known singers:

Classical music

Israel is well known for its famous classical orchestras and the Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra under the management of Zubin Mehta has a worldwide reputation.

As the Holy land, Israel is full with ancient churches, and holy music of various sorts, including ligathorica and Gregorian chanting, either remain popular or have been revived.


Israeli rock is more soft and quiet than American or British rock'n'roll and tends to feature soft vocals more often than heavy riffing and guitar virtuosos.

Well-known bands:

Soft rock artist are:


Heavy metal and alternative rock

Since the 1980s, Israel has had an active underground scene of alternative artists playing death metal, doom metal, black metal, punk and Gothic rock. The best known Israeli metal bands are Salem and Orphand Land; both combine Goth and oriental elements with hard-edged guitar riffs and lyrics focusing on Israeli issues such as the Holocaust and the Israeli-Arab conflict.

Ethnic music

Oriental music

Middeternian music, known in Hebrew as Mizrachit מיזרחית ("Oriental"), is an oriental style of music, mainly popular within the oriental Jews who immigrated and fled to Israel from Arab lands (Sepharadim). This style features a modernized adaptation of Arab music and San Remo, enriching the traditional instruments (such as the oud) with violins and electronic musics. This music is mainly knowm for its singing style, known as Silsulim. Main artists:

Until the 1980s, this music was an underground music and not accepted as legitimate culture by the dominant European-oriented cultural elite. The great breakthrough was made by Zohar Argov who made this music popular with the general public and on commercial TV and radio.

Hip hop

Subliminal & the Shadow (Kobi Shimoni and Yossi Eliasi), the best known of Israeli hip hop artists, are known for their nationalistic and right-wing views. They remain popular, although shunned in many circles. Other performers include the Israeli Arab NWR and leftist Israeli Jews Hadag-Nahash and Muki.

Film and Theatre


Playwriters: Actors:

Comedy and Satire

See also: