Naama Barak
May 8

To be honest, the whole concept of Independence Day this year is a bizarre one. What’s usually celebrated with great joy, pride and fun, is set this year to be a sad and subdued affair marred by the ongoing war, the hostages still held in Gaza and the unbelievable amount of death and grief shrouding the country.

To help you mark the upcoming day, on May 14, we’ve compiled a playlist of the top Israeli songs that were released over the last few months, as well as a couple more that have become identified with these challenging times. (Click here for our list of top 7 songs of the Gaza War.)

We wish you, and us, a meaningful Independence Day and better and happier times to come.

1. Jasmin Moallem: Yihye Tov (It Will Be Good)

Released just prior to the outbreak of the war, it feels as if Jasmin Moallem’s thoughtful and heartbreaking song was the only thing played on the radio for weeks on end. War or not, it’s a beautiful song that’s helped many Israelis through the horrific beginning of the war with Gaza.

2. Jimbo J: Bamakom Bo Ani Gar (In This Place I Live)

Israeli rapper Jimbo J wrote his song about his hometown, Kibbutz Or Haner on the Gaza border, prior to the war. It tells the story of the scars left on him after years of war with Hamas (yes, even before October), as well as of the downfall of the Israeli dream. 

He criticizes the consumerism that’s taken over Israel and the weight of everyday life on his generation, looking back longingly at his simpler childhood. It now of course strikes a particularly poignant note, leaving listeners aching for the days before the war that changed everything.

3. Shlomi Shabat: Michtav MeYossi (Letter from Yossi)

Since the war broke out, numerous artists have recorded songs based on the works and writings of the people murdered by Hamas and of soldiers who have fallen in battle. One such song was released by Shlomi Shabat, one of the country’s best-loved veteran singers. 

It’s based on the letters written to family and friends by Sgt. Maj. Yossi Hershkovitz, who fell during his reserve military duty. In civilian life, Hershkovitz was a beloved school principal, and his kind soul shines through the song created in his memory.

4. Omer Adam and Infected Mushroom: Tirkod Lanetzach (Dance Forever)

Omer Adam, perhaps Israel’s contemporary national singer, and Infected Mushroom, one of the most famous music duos to come out of Israel, released a song in homage to those murdered at the Supernova music festival. The song mimics the genre enjoyed at the festival by so many people out to celebrate love before being slaughtered by Hamas and is an eerie but beautiful contemplation of the beautiful lives that were lost.

5. Shlomo Artzi and Pe’er Tasi: Nahar Hadmaot (River of Tears)

Shlomo Artzi, one of Israel’s musical giants, paired with another star, Pe’er Tasi, to write a beautiful song that resonates with the hardships that we’ve encountered since October 7. The two well-known and intimate voices provide familiarity and comfort to listeners in these strange times, and the duet has proved to be an unexpected but wonderful addition to Israeli music.

People at the beach in Tel Aviv watch the military airshow as part of Israel's 75th Independence Day celebrations, April 26, 2023. Photo by Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90
People at the beach in Tel Aviv watch the military airshow as part of Israel’s 75th Independence Day celebrations, April 26, 2023. Photo by Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90

6. Yardena Arazi: Habaita (Back Home)

Originally a protest song over Israel’s involvement in the first Lebanon war in the early 1980s, this song written by Ehud Manor became identified with the campaign to release Israeli soldiers held captive in Lebanon in the second Lebanon war in 2006, and also with the widespread campaign to release Gilad Shalit. 

Since October 7, the song has been extensively played on the radio and social media, calling for the return of the hostages held captive in Gaza, and even got a special rendition sung by 1,000 musicians and families of the captives in the historic Caesarea amphitheater.

7. Ness X Stilla: Harbo Darbo (War Strike)

It’s not everyday that an Israeli drill song makes global headlines, but this infectious number became famous around the world for its tongue-in-cheek support of Israeli soldiers and its calling for the death of Hamas leaders, as well as more controversial references to Dua Lipa and Bella Hadid, among others, for their anti-Israel stance. While this is a song that’s certainly out there, it’s also certainly got stuck in our heads for a quite a while.

8. Hatikvah 6: Giborei Al (Superheroes)

In this sweet song, Hatikvah 6 sings about regular Israelis’ military alter egos and the often unexpected heroism that they’ve demonstrated by dropping their everyday occupations to come to the rescue of the country. It’s a stark but positive reminder of the strange, strange times we’re in, and of the incredible goodwill and bravery that millions of Israelis have shown since the war began.

9. Yagel Oshri: Latzet Medikaon (Getting Out of Depression)

For a couple of months, you couldn’t go on Instagram in Israel without seeing moving reels of reserve soldiers surprising their families with a visit home to the backdrop of this heartfelt song. Particularly popular among army-aged Israelis, it went absolutely viral, and for many signifies the entire wartime period.

10. Osher Cohen: Tirkedi (Dance)

Tirkedi is dedicated to the hundreds of people murdered at the Supernova music festival, as well as survivors and the dozens kidnapped from the party. It describes the last moments experienced by those faced with slaughter, alternating with hope that those who have died are now peacefully dancing wherever they are. 

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Jason Harris

Jason Harris

Executive Director

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