Israeli, Lebanese singer collaborate on Arabic version of Hebrew song

The song has garnered both positive and negative attention within Israel and Lebanon.

Yair Levi (photo credit: Courtesy)
Yair Levi
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Israeli artist and former IDF captain of the Shayetet 13 unit Yair Levi recorded an Arabic version of his single "Refa Na" (Please Heal) with Lebanese singer Carine Bassili.
The song has garnered both positive and negative attention within Israel and Lebanon. Since going to war in the 1980s, Lebanon and Israel have shared no formal diplomatic ties.
Bassili contacted Levi after hearing the original version of the song in Hebrew, asking to cover the song in Arabic, as Bassili believed the lyrics and the message of "Refa Na" could bring healing to Lebanon during the ongoing social and economic crisis.
Upon hearing the proposition, Levi felt the two singers could do one better and instead sang a duet of the song in Arabic together.
“Before recording the song with Yair, I was very concerned about the consequences of doing so. I have received many threats from people living in Lebanon, as well as calls for boycotts, etc.," said Bassili. "As you may know, in Lebanon we have a law that forbids any kind of relationship with Israelis.
"Breaking this rule could mean being thrown in jail or death.”
Carine Bassili. (Courtesy)Carine Bassili. (Courtesy)
Since recording the single, the song has been played in dozens of countries including Israel, Lebanon, Iraq, Sudan, Egypt and Dubai, among others. Similar to Israel and Lebanon, the song has brought up mixed reactions in the rest of the Arab world as well.
Bassili has received personal threats against her life and livelihood, with many calling to boycott the singer for working with an Israeli.
In reference to the negative reactions, Prime Minister's Office spokesperson Ofir Gendelman endorsed the song in a tweet: “Music is refusing hate, watch this amazing collaboration between Lebanese Carine Bassili and Israeli Yair Levi in a worship song Refa Na."
Levi notes that he couldn't be happier with the version of the song that was released, and that while recording the duet he has come to know Bassili and the struggles of many living in Lebanon, where before he had seen Israel's northern neighbor as just another enemy country.
"We have suffered wars and terror attacks by Hezbollah, a terror organization ruling the south of Lebanon which borders Israel. I had mixed feelings on this,” he said.
Bassili also struggled with the decision due to the laws forbidding collaboration with Israelis and Levi's former status as captain of an elite IDF unit.
"I would basically be recording along with an Israeli military figure," she said. "When the first war between Israel and Lebanon broke out in 1982, the first missile that was shot to Beirut caused the death of my great grandfather... every son and daughter in Lebanon grew up with the sound of jets and bombs. We grew up in hate.  

"However, my heart told me to just do it," Bassili said. "And I dared to do so because I felt it was the right thing to do.”  
Yair added that within his experience, it has given him a chance to get to know people who live on the other side of the Israel-Lebanon border.