After a six-year absence from the Tel Aviv Gay Pride Parade, Dana International will finally return to the stage this year, and as the featured artist. But that’s not the only buzz about Dana at the moment: she has just released a new song, recorded especially for the event. The video, published only a few hours ago, has already caused a stir among overwhelmed fans, and turned Dana into the dish of the day. Let’s eat!
Dana’s new song, “Yeladim Ze Simcha” (“Children are joy”), is actually a cover version of a song written by the Israeli writer and playwright Yohushua Sobol, and composed by Shlomo Bar. The controversial song contains some pretty sarcastic lyrics:
…make four, make five, make six kids
in return you’ll be respected by your sibilings
Make twelve, wait, why not eighteen? Make twenty kids!
God will take care, and the social welfare services too”
The song was originally written in 1970, and served as a protest against traditional families giving birth to more and more children even though they couldn’t afford them.
Now, 30 years later, these lyrics are brought back to life in a whole new context. Dana, whose victory at Eurovision 1998 was a revolutionary moment for all gay and transgender people around the world, has transformed the song into an anthem of equality. It’s now about the right of every person in this world to have kids.
Sobol, the composer, was aware of Dana’s plan to make a new version of the song. He was totes excited by Dana’s interpretation. He even helped adjust the lyrics, daring to turn “god” into “goddess”.
Dana’s song dovetails nicely with the winds of change that are sweeping Israel. The right of gay couples to have kids has recently taken centre stage in the political arena. A wide-scale internet campaign recently called for the government to permit a group of Israeli gay couples, who chose to have a child through surrogacy in Thailand, to register their babies in Israel. The campaign was a tremendous success and became a cause célèbre. Another recent campaign called “Equality is for everyone” built on similar ideas. The theme of the Gay Pride parade this year is “New Families”, whose number in Israel is rising all the time.
Dana chose to address this sensitive issue by shooting a video which is both brilliant and provocative. The video takes place in the big synagogue in Tel Aviv, a symbol of tradition and orthodoxy. In the video, Dana is celebrating her son’s Bar Mitzva – a Jewish ceremony held when the child is 13 years old.
She plays the part of religious fashionista well. She wears a modest long sleeved dress and has a wig, while her son is wearing a kipa – a traditional Jewish head covering cap. Dana named her son “Re’em International”. It’s printed on the kipa — so sweet! Everything in the ceremony looks very realistic: the boys’ clothes, the enthusiastic dancing, even the tradition of throwing candy at the child after he finishes reading from the Bible.
It’s truly provocative, as Israel’s religious authorities remain the last people in the country who refuse to accept homosexuality. Choosing to shoot this story in the most religious place one can think of is like the expression of a dream: that gay couples can have children, and still be loved and accepted by the more traditional parts of society.
Dana will perform this song during the main event of the Gay Parade in Tel Aviv, on 13 June. Mei Feingold, Israel’s Eurovision 2014 singer, is also going to sing a song recorded especially for the event. As more and more information about the Tel Aviv parade is revealed, it feels like it’s going to be the best parade ever!
– Shai Barak contributed reporting from Israel