Israeli musician and former elite IDF commando unit captain Yair Levi and born-again Lebanese Singer Carine Bassili, have begun a historic dialogue through music.
Their Arabic versiion of Yair’s already successful song Refa Na has gone viral and provoked both positive and negative reactions especially within Israel and Lebanon, as both countries have not had a diplomatic relationship since the 80s.
“El Na Refa Na La” is a Jewish prayer from the book of Numbers, where Moses prayed to God to heal his ill sister, Miriam. According to the Hebrew Scriptures, she was healed instantly after he prayed.
Yair was inspired by this prayer when his grandmother fell sick. He prayed and sang with faith and hope for her recovery. In a blink-of-an-eye she was healed, just like Miriam.
The Arabic version of Refa Na has been featured in dozens of major channels in Israel, Lebanon, Iraq, Sudan, Egypt, Dubai, etc. The response in the Arab world sparked both positive and negative reactions. Carine even received threats against her and calls for boycotts for collaborating with an Israeli.
The spokesperson of the PM of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu – Ofir Gendelman – tweeted in Arabic: “Music is refusing hate: watch this amazing collaboration between Lebanese Carine Bassili and Israeli Yair Levi in a worship song Refa Na …”.
The story behind this collaboration began when Carine heard the original version of Refa Na in Hebrew. The song touched Carine, who felt it was a prayer that could bring healing and reconciliation to her home country Lebanon, which was now facing an economic and social major crisis.
So she contacted Yair on Instagram to request permission to record the song in Arabic. Yair was excited about her vision, and the two ended up recording the Arab version 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.
“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,” said, Carine.
The former elite captain said: “I had no idea all of this would have come my way and can’t be happier. However, I wasn’t looking for an Arabic version, that was a real surprise to me, but I trusted God’s plans.
“As I came to know Carine, I realised Lebanon has another face, its people. Before, I saw Lebanon as just another enemy country. We have suffered wars and terror attacks by Hezbollah, a terror organization ruling the south of Lebanon which borders along Israel-. I had mixed feelings on this.”
On the other hand, Carine said: “It was a tough decision to make, as Yair was not only an Israeli but was a former captain in one of the elite units in Israel. I would basically be recording alongside an Israeli military figure.
“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. And I dared to do so because I felt it was the right thing to do.”
“I think Carine is very brave for doing this. As an entrepreneur, singer and Lebanese, she is an example to follow for future generations in her culture. As for me, it has been an opportunity to get to know the people on the other side of the border,” concluded Yair.
Carine was born and raised in Beirut during the Civil War. Now living in the United States along with her husband she started a non profit called, Pure Love Ministries with the mission to reach and fight for people all over the world, especially the Middle East through worship, advocacy and humanitarian work.