Sunday, February 23, 2014

IDF Super Star - Druze Vs. Bedouin

The art form these two IDF soldiers are engaging in is called Zajal.

The handsome one who's sitting is from Bani Ma'aruf (an alternative way of saying Druze) and the one standing (he calls himself "Bulbul") is the Bedouin.

For those unfamiliar with Arab culture, here's wiki's description:
"Zajal (Arabic: زجل) is a traditional form of oral strophic poetry declaimed in a colloquial dialect (most notably in one of the many dialects of Arabic) with ancient roots in a number of Mediterranean cultures. The form is similar to Muwashshah... Zajal is semi-improvised and semi-sung and is often performed in the format of a debate between zajjaali (poets who improvise the zajal). It is usually accompanied by percussive musical instruments (with the occasional wind instrument, e.g. the ney) and a chorus of men (and more recently, women) who sing parts of the verse."
Here's a small excerpt of what they're saying (translation my own):
Bedouin Bulbul:
"Oh son of Kafr Smei' how beautiful is your discourse, you speak with a Druze accent but it doesn't bother me. Visit you I shall in Kafr Smei' and stand at your door, oh son of Ma'aruf, you King of men"
"Oh Bulbul, you are precious to us, you shall descend from between the trees to come see us. If you were to come to Kafr Smei' to see us, we would welcome you oh King of the Arabs"


Lisa said...

This is amazing. I was totally engrossed - and not just because the Druze guy is so hot.

Motek, I learn so much from you!

deb said...

What Lisa said. Yes to all of it.

deb said...

What Lisa said. Yes to all of it.

David All said...

You mean there are Arab soldiers in the IDF! How can that be when the wore than Nazis, Zionists are engaged in Genocide against the poor,suffering, starving (like in Gaza) Palestinian people!
(Utterly fake outrage, but appropriate given all the BS in the Media this week over the Floatilla mess.)

Afraid my PC here at work does not have a vocal player. Will try and listen to it when I use a PC at the Public Library this weekend. Thanks Nizo for this post. The video looks good.

Anonymous said...


Meadows said...

Nizo, this is terrific - you've done it again! You have a way of finding absolute gems. I am very, very glad you have volunteered to abstain from sex-talk for, what is it? 60 days? Whatever the period of abstinence, it's made you reach deeper for these treasures instead of going for the usual stuff, which although very funny and thought-provoking is almost too easy for you, given your talent. (Raises glass in a toast)

Aviv said...

Double thumbs up. I was always fascinated by that unit (Desert Reconnaissance Battalion).

Anonymous said...

After previous attempts on falafal, hummos and the dabke, the Arabs need to hurry up and copyright the zajal before the Israelis decide to start claiming it as a "traditional form of Israeli spoken poetry."

Anonymous said...

The Bedouin as you say has no mojo whatsoever...
the guy filming it is Jewish?
The Druze looks like a white guy...

Anon aka - The Real Slim Shady

ruth said...

Probably a lot of work but could you translate the whole thing, or at least recap main points?
Sounds very interestinafg.

Anonymous said...

Indeed those Druze and Beduins will be hanged after Palestine Liberation.

Nizo said...

Glad you enjoyed it habibti :)

Thanks and welcome to the blog :)

The amount of fun these Arabs are having in the IDF makes me want to quit my job and go join them.

Merci ;)

I raise a glass to you and your comment as well :)

Desert Reconnaissance? then what are they doing in Nablus when they should be in the Negev?

The Jews are paying me a stipend to dig up such little jewels for future cultural appropriation.. somme dérisoire bien sur, but I have to pay for the house :)

The Druze is far more talented, but the bulbul has potential.

It's a BITCH to translate because of the puns and plays on words that would be lost in translation..

Here's an example:

Ana bulbul, ana blali, w shi'ri kal-thahab sate' bilali, bareed el 'ishiq law inno balali, w'bala hal 'ishiq ma bnisswa kamshit traab.

Ok, a simple translation would be:

"I'm Bulbul of the Bilal's, I shine and my poetry glimmers like gold, I seek love even if it is problematic, and without love we're not worth a handful of soil."

But the translation cannot convey the idea of using several similar sounding words below:

bala: without (equivalent to hebrew bli)

blali: of Bilal, probably a tribe he belongs to.

bilali: adjective "glimmer"

balali: equivalent to balawi, plural of balwi, problem

Essentially, the exchange is a friendly verbal duel between the druze and bedouins. It touches on several topics, such as love, whereby the Druze misses his lover while he's in the army, as well on the topic of territoriality which seems to obsess the Druze.. he says that it's only by his approval that bulbul can show up at his door in Kafr Smei' (his druze village).. and then later on the bedouin makes a gesture of surrendering to the Druze who continues with "hayy sahit midani", this is the city-square that belongs to me, the double entendre is that he's the master of this zajal duel as well as the master of the Druze area he's in..

Nizo said...

" Anonymous said...
Indeed those Druze and Beduins will be hanged after Palestine Liberation."

After Palestine is liberated, I would target the Druze first, the Bedouin are already well-hung.

Meadows said...

Nizo, the more I thought about Bulbul the more I wondered if you were honoring the spirit of your 60-day sex-talk fast as well as the letter of it. I remembered a long-ago post about bulbuls, your childhood... Was this a way of inserting contraband thoughts during this period? I started to shrug it off, but then saw your remark about the well-hungness of Bedouins. Never mind. ;-)

karen said...

Enjoyable and not at the same time. The guttural sounds, I can't listen to. They grate on my ears. I don't even know how you can make them. My brother had a girlfriend from Iraq and it was interesting listening to her speak English, which she spoke well. That guttural thing kept creeping in there though. Ucch. I heard that Hebrew used to be much more guttural in the past.

Nizo said...

Meadows, I'm not the one who named him bulbul!? what are you the Saudi vice police? ;)

The Cranberries will tell you that "It's all in your head". In my eyes, nothing is worse than a Semitic language that has been gutted of its guttorals...It becomes a monstrosity, a handicapped hybrid..

Karen said...

What are other examples?

And to me it (Hebrew) sounds softer and more pleasing to the ears. Kind of like German is a harsh sounding language and Yiddish (a relative) is softer.

I don't know what Persian is related to, but it doesn't grate on my ears.

I once saw a lama choking and coughing. It finally coughed up what looked like a lung. That episode reminds me of what Arabic sounds like ;-) Maybe it's just me. But I did have a Lebanese "acquaintance" who also thought that Arabic sounded awful.

Nizo said...

"But I did have a Lebanese "acquaintance" who also thought that Arabic sounded awful."

This statement doesn't help your argument. Many Lebanese are complexed about Arabic. You might as well have told me your acquaintance was Rabbi Meir Kahane, he would have probably been more objective vis-à-vis Arabic than your Lebanese acquaintance.

Meadows said...

My dear Nizo, because I'm so far geographically and philosophically from S.A. and it's vice police, if I ever did come across one they'd find more things objectionable about me than you. If you were indeed simply reporting a name that ah, _Bulbul_ gave himself, then my thought was unworthy and I bow before your earnestness. Your post was indeed upholding the fast from sex-talk, it is as pure as the driven snow. And do the hang-men indeed hang Bedouins well? Oops, er ah never mind.

Nobody said...

Nizo said...

The Cranberries will tell you that "It's all in your head". In my eyes, nothing is worse than a Semitic language that has been gutted of its guttorals...It becomes a monstrosity, a handicapped hybrid..

I concur. I like guttorals in particular the way the Bedouins speak. Hebrew is a phonetically castrated language. A kind of Ashkenazi version of Arabic

Karen said...

He was a Christian, if that helps.

Did I hit a nerve? I think the language isn't attractive, just like you don't find Asians or Africans attractive. I don't know that Rabbi Meir Kahane would have ever said that about Asians or Africans.

Don't agree Nobody. To me it has evolved for the better.

Mountain Moose said...

As my Arabic is unfortunately far too poor to create a Zajal, I shall write mine in Hebrew (northwest semitic pwnz0r j00!):

קול תוגה באוהלי ציון, קול קינה בין יודעי נהי
כבוא ניזו, אשוריו בצתה תכון
כי חניתו יכה אלף, ורבבה במטהו
חרבו תבוא במעמקי בטן.
עלזו לפניו גבורי עזה, אם לוחם שאי זמרה
כי רמה קרן פלשת, ונס אבימלך יתנוסס

Mountain Moose said...

(btw spear is feminine but dat verb is referring to nizo nd he aint)

Nizo said...

Mountain Moose, light-saber in hand, I accept your Zajal duel..

אוופ אוופ אוופ אוופ

אז כן באת
יא מוס ההרים
עם חרב הזג'ל בין ידיך

אם רק ידעת
כמה היה לוחמים
שבאו ונפלו כאן לפניך

אז יללא תסתובב ותחזור למעורתך
עם זנבך בין רגליך

אז יללא תברח מכאן

כי אני סוס ולא מוס
ג'דיי ולא פאדאוואנ !!!

Mountain Moose said...

ooooo its ON! *lightsaber sound*

סוס מת דובר גדולות, רכוב איש אומר דברים
שתה בשמים פיך ולשונך תהלך בארץ.
הלא תדע כי פאדאוואן גבר, ואיש רענן יבוס זקן
אכן לשון גאה תשבע תולעה, וגבה פה אשפיל,
סוס ורוכבו ביון מצולה.
כגודל דבריך כן חרפתך, ושכנת מערות אליהן שלחתני.
יוצאי כפתור לבשו שק, השמיעו אנחת לבך
כי רמה קרני וקרנכם איננה, נפל גולית ולא יוסיף קום

Mountain Moose said...

(btw גבר is gavar (the verb) and not gever)

Mountain Moose said...

oops dats libkhem not libekha

Nizo said...

Mountain Moose,
I declare a hudna, I need to photograph the house so I can sell it..

"thebookmistress said...
Do their accents sounds as different to you as they do to me? It's almost like two different languages?"

The Druze pronounce the Qaf ق‎(equivalent to the Hebrew ק) the original classic Arabic way, it comes deep from the throat. It's very distinctive.. Whereas the Bedouin pronounce it as a hard g (as in great). Palestinians from the rural west bank pronounce it as a k as in King. Whereas urban levantines from the cities of Palestine, Lebanon, Syria omit the Q sound completely and replace it with a glottal stop, like the hyphen in "uh-oh!"

here's how the different groups would pronounce the word Qamar , Arabic for moon.

Qamar: Druze

Gamar: Bedouin

Kamar: West Bank rural

Amar: levantine cities

Arabs are very very perceptive when it comes to accents, and within seconds can know where the speaker is from.

"And, yes -- *I* would quit my job and join the IDF if that Druze guy was on the menu. No wonder they don't marry out."

Bookmistress, please go google Walid Jumblatt, if those bug-eyes don't turn you off the Druze nothing will :)

David All said...

That poetry contest between the two Israeli soldiers, Druse and Bedouin, was just great, Nizo. Their language was beautiful and far more skilled then English which is rather flat by comparison. Another article on this with some more information is at

Be said...

Loved this! Yes, the Druze guy is *adorable.* His voice is amazing, too. Kind of reminds me of some Lebanese classical singing I heard in a concert a while back. (sorry if this sounds dumb).

Loved the bit of translation you sent - sounds like they were out-politing-each other (am I missing something?); really refreshing to see.

Was also taken by the Bedouin's name - Bulbul. That's a type of songbird, isn't it?

David All said...

Nizo, if you run across any more videos of Zajal, please link to them. Would really enjoy seeing more, thanks.

Orly Halpern said...


It is an honor and a privilege to come across your blog (by way of Neil Ungerleider's facebook post). I am in love with your writing and intrigued by your spirit. I'll be looking out for more of your posts.



p.s. I posted the Zajal video on my Facebook page and it has raised much interest - especially among my Arab friends.

Mo-ha-med said...

Over the past month I actually sat through a couple of Palestinian-Lebanese zajal duels - not as flowing as the guy in the video, but definitely more advanced by use of metaphors..

Mo-ha-med said...

I was curious to read the comments on Youtube on that video - nothing interesting, sadly, but one of the comments was addressed to you!

Nizo said...

English has its own idioms - that sound flat in Arabic as well...aah.. language.. I remember interviewing a woman for a job and she told me that she can't dance because she had two left feet. I took her literally...I wanted her to take off her shoes and show me...

Be, bulbul is a bird and a Hebrew or Arabic way to refer to the male member . Who cares about the bird!

I'm very touched by your words... Keep coming back for more.

Mo, the best zajjaal is Zaghlool el Damour

Anonymous said...

For the coward that wants to hang us. We will drink your blood after we cut your throat off anytime anywhere. We were born to slaughter the filth like you till end of world... Abu Brahim will continue the mission during judgement day.

Anonymous said...

For the coward that wants to hang us. We will drink your blood after we cut your throat off anytime anywhere. We were born to slaughter the filth like you till end of world... Abu Brahim will continue the mission during judgement day.