The Arty Semite

Rebels Sang Israeli's Song as They Advanced on Tripoli

By Renee Ghert-Zand

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In news today from the “it’s a brave, new, global world” department, Michal Levertov, in a piece for Institute for War & Peace Reporting, wrote that television reports this past week have shown Libyans singing and dancing to “Zenga Zenga” as the rebels advanced on Tripoli.

This is brave, new and global because “Zenga Zenga” is a song that was invented last February by 32-year-old Israeli Noy Alooshe for a remix video he made of a speech given by now former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi. It spread like wildfire by Facebook and Twitter through the Arab world, making Alooshe a social media superstar, despite the fact that viewers still posted anti-Israel and anti-Semitic comments about the video and its Israeli creator.

Thanks to “Zenga Zenga” (which comes in two versions — one with scantily clad women dancing next to the Colonel, and a more sanitized version without them), Alooshe’s remixing skills and audio-visual political commentary have come to be appreciated well beyond the borders of the Jewish State — in particular in countries officially at war, or at least without diplomatic relations with it. Both versions combined have now garnered close to 6 million views.

Libyan state TV apparently even ran the video for a couple of weeks. Someone there must have thought that watching Gaddafi saying “Zenga Zenga,” over and over was a good thing (“Zenga Zenga” comes from the word “alleyway” in a Libyan dialect — Gadaffi was threatening to hunt down rebels in every alleyway) — until it was realized that the video was meant to mock Gaddafi, not glorify him.

In an interview with Levertov, Alooshe said that he sees how the Internet and social media have broken down barriers once thought to be insurmountable. “Once the internet had broken the barriers, you can see that such a citizen may indeed swear at you publicly — in a Youtube talkback, for instance — but that immediately thereafter the same person will contact you personally and ask for more of your material,” he said.

Alooshe said that of the people who saw the video and wrote how much they liked it, “there were even some Libyans who promised they would dance in the streets to this music when the country was freed.” It looks as though in this brave, new, global world, those Libyans kept their promise.


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