Magazine article Tikkun

Oy, a Punk: Liz Nord's Jericho's Echo

Magazine article Tikkun

Oy, a Punk: Liz Nord's Jericho's Echo

Article excerpt

Oy, a Punk: Liz Norcd's Jericho's Echo

During the eighties, I was one of many American Jewish kids raised by Israeli parents as a left-wing Zionist who also identified with the rebellious subculture of American and British punk. My attempts to link the two movements often met with bewilderment from my parents-they wondered what was so Israeli about punk's harsh music, politics, and style.

It turns out that the eighties already saw punk infiltrating Israeli culture. San Francisco filmmaker Liz Nord offers the best response to the surprised reactions she gets when she describes Jericho's Echo, her documentary-in-progress on today's Israeli punk scene: "I know-who knew?"

So what's there to know? The twenty-seven-year-old Nord came to the punk scene while growing up in a culturally conscious and denominationally searching Jewish family in Syracuse, New York. "Though I hadn't been to Israel at the time," she notes, "I had a grounding m Judaism with Israel as a crucial element. Then there was the punk community going on in my life, with music and artists, and all my friends doing all these crazy, wonderful things."

Nord's work with the independent Negative Progression record label got her connected with the well-known Tel Aviv pop-punk band Useless ID. "Suddenly it was like, wham, maybe these two things-punk and Israel-can converge in some way." She first formulated the film as a documentary focused on Useless ID, but by the time she arrived in Tel Aviv to start shooting, she saw the entire Israeli punk scene as a burgeoning and relevant reaction to the country's general state of existential crisis.

Nord found a range of nuance to the punks' generally anticlerical, anti-authoritarian stance. "Some of them definitely identify as Jewish, and some of them are really glad that Israel's a Jewish state, even though they don't practice the religion. Other kids said that Judaism is what's ruining the country, that it's the religious that keep fucking it up for everyone."

But Nord doesn't see Israeli punk as necessarily anti-spiritual. "I sense that their scene is a way of expressing their emotions about what's happening both on the ground and within. When you go to a live small-scale punk show, there's definitely a high spiritual energy."

The dozen or so bands that appear in Jericho's Echo run the gamut of punk substyles and attitudes. Poppier bands like Useless ID and Beer? (from Be'er Sheva) appeal to the scene's more escapist wing, while the crunchier Chaos Rabak represents the growing, mostly Russian proletarian olim (recent immigrant) street punks.

But it's political-mostly anarchist and leftist-bands like Va'adat Kishut and Nikmat Olalim (named after a Jewish terrorist gang) that reflect Israel's new breed of anguished activists. …

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