TikTok's Latest Triumph: Turning Israelis Into Arabic Music Fans

Thanks to the open borders of social media, a growing number of young Israeli Jews are listening to Arabic music – much like their grandparents used to do

Israeli pop star Eden Ben Zaken dancing to a popular TikTok remix of songs by U.S. rapper WhoHeem and Lebanese singer Hamada Nashawaty.
Israeli pop star Eden Ben Zaken dancing to a popular TikTok remix of songs by U.S. rapper WhoHeem and Lebanese singer Hamada Nashawaty.
Khen Elmaleh
Khen Elmaleh
Khen Elmaleh
Khen Elmaleh

In a small town in the Israeli periphery, another long summer day comes to a close. At a huge playground, locals are gathered for the evening ritual of wearing out their little kids on the seesaws, slides, climbing walls and biking trails before bedtime. The usual clamor is suddenly interrupted by a bunch of teenagers passing by on their bikes, their portable speakers blasting music that strikes everyone in earshot with its force. Its power is not just in its decibel level, but in its foreignness in this all-Israeli, Hebrew-speaking setting at the heart of the national consensus, as only a small provincial community whose resources are devoted to fancy parks and gardens can be.