Monday, March 9, 2009

Kuwaiti St. In Israel!

South Tel Aviv has a newly named street. As of just over two weeks ago, just off Bossem Street, you can now find Rechov Ha'achim al-Kuvaiti, or al-Kuwaiti Brothers Street.

On one corner, there is a handsome, white modernist villa. Opposite, there is a large, run-down apartment block. Many of the residents were not delighted that their street had been given a new, apparently Arabic name.

The Tel Aviv municipality had, though, decided to bestow posthumous recognition on two of its least celebrated residents.

Saleh and Daoud al-Kuwaiti had lived close by to their eponymous street, after they had joined the mass emigration of Jews from Iraq to Israel in 1951.

Theirs were lives of triumph and dejection. They had been the toast of Baghdad, in the words of Saleh's son Shlomo, "the national composers of Iraq, and the founders of Iraqi modern music".
In their pomp, the emir of Kuwait would visit the al-Kuwaiti family home, every six weeks, to listen to the brothers perform.

When Shlomo's oldest brother was born, his father called him Sabah, after the emir's family name.
The emir attended Sabah's circumcision, bringing with him a gold case, filled with gold coins.
But the establishment of the new Jewish state in 1948 brought in its wake a surge in anti-Semitism in Iraq. It reached a point where the al-Kuwaitis decided to move to Israel.
It was then that the brothers began to feel the slow crush of disillusion.

"My father," recalls Shlomo, "suffered twice." The first rejection was that of Israel, which in 1951 had little time for the al-Kuwaitis' music.

"His music was considered the music of the enemy," says Shlomo. "So immediately, they put his music in a ghetto. Instead of the concert hall, my father and his brother had to play weddings and barmitzvahs and family fiestas, with people eating and drinking... and not listening."

The second blow came from inside Iraq. Shlomo claims as much as 90% of Iraq's modern popular music was written by his father.

The new Iraqi regime "couldn't erase the music, because everyone was singing it. But the regime started to call it traditional music. They didn't mention his name. They sometimes forced another composer to take the credit".

By Tim Franks BBC News, Jerusalem
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1 comment:

  1. Abdullah - KuwaitTuesday, March 24, 2009

    Thats very nice of Israel.. To name a street with Kuwait's name in it.. The "Al-Kuwaiti" Jewish family lived in Kuwait a very long time. Loved and respected by everyone. The most famous artist was Mahmoud Al-Kuwaiti. He sang a very popular song that is cherished till this day. Its called "Al Boshiya" & here's a link to hear it.


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