A 22-year-old pianist from the Gush Etzion settlement of Neveh Daniel has become
the latest YouTube phenomenon with her pro-Israel hasbara song “Only
Yedida Freilich, a composition student at the capital’s Rubin
Academy of Music and Dance, wrote the mournful piano ballad along with her
father, Gabby, and brother Yuval, following the Gaza flotilla incident last
month. In only two weeks, the video has attracted over 350,000 views on YouTube
and turned Freilich into a celebrity in nationalist circles.
transpired by chance,” Gabby Freilich told The Jerusalem Post
Australia, where he was visiting family. “One of Yedida’s projects in
to compose a musical piece for a political song. As it happened, the
fell on the same week as the flotilla.”
Freilich said he was moved to
write down lyrics after seeing the world’s reaction to the IDF raid on
, which left nine passengers dead.
“Yedida, myself and my son
Yuval sat around the kitchen table, and I came up with some English
they added some Hebrew and we put together what we wanted to say –
other nations can do what’s in their interest, but only Israel isn’t
“Then Yedida put it to music.
It didn’t take her very
The video clip of her moving performance on piano and vocals, with
lyrics switching between English and Hebrew, is juxtaposed with images
rockets, St.-Sgt. Gilad Schalit, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad,
Richard Goldstone and the Mavi Marmara.
The lyrics decry the double
standard Freilich says Israel faces when trying to defend itself, and
couplets such as “Eight thousand rockets is no excuse / suicide bombers,
all just a ruse” and a Hebrew chorus of “Darfur is ignored, Russian
Chechnya, only Israel has no right to defend itself, because the world
nothing about Jewish blood.”
“It was obvious to me that this was a
hasbara [public diplomacy] song. Our efforts at explaining what happened
the flotilla were so appalling, and this did so well in explaining our
positions, I knew it had to go on YouTube,” said Freilich.
He found a
professional videographer, Daniel Sass, who volunteered his time, and
they chose the images and produced the clip.
Freilich insisted that the
song appear with English, Hebrew and Arabic subtitles.
“I thought that it
was important that the Arabs would be able to understand it,” he said.
think it’s a powerful song and a great tune. Yedida sings it from the
can tell she’s involved in the lyrics and the performance, because it’s
her life – her friends and her family are involved.”
Yedida was raised in
Neveh Daniel – a community of around 1,500 residents south of Jerusalem
large English-speaking religious population – where Freilich and his
soon after immigrating from Sydney 25 years ago. He said that Yedida,
one of six
Freilich children, began playing the piano when she was twoyears- old.
attended the Rubin Academy High School and was part of an IDF band
“Wherever there was an outpost of soldiers, her idea
was to take a group and go play there.
She’s played on every border,
whether to a handful of soldiers or a thousand. She was chosen to play
reunion of the Palmah before 12,000 people, and she’s performed at
officers from the National Military Academy,” said Freilich.
surprised by the sudden popularity of “Only Israel,” chalking it up to
the message of the lyrics, but to Yedida’s unaffected, emotional
“Yedida is a completely open and sincere girl, and the
dichotomy of those images being presented in that way, with no tattoos,
and strobes, just her playing the piano, that honesty is transparent
even if you
don’t know her,” he said.
When Yedida presented the song as her class
assignment, however, there wasn’t unanimous praise.
“Some people at the
Rubin Academy were pretty shocked.
It’s a place where nobody hangs their
political banners out. I’d say that almost everyone turned out to be
supportive, but one of her early mentors was appalled that she chose
present a ‘horrific’ political message,” said Freilich.
radiologist, said that “Only Israel” was his first foray into hasbara.
had never considered it, because like almost every other Israeli, I
say it as well as people who really know what they’re talking about. But
that my daughter could say it with emotion and from the heart better
else,” he said.
“My hope for the song is that it achieves the aims of
waking people up and opening their eyes to the situation Israel is in,
seeing the reality of what we’re facing. It’s a reality that Yedida, her
and the whole country goes through. If it does something good for
would be a great thing.”