MEET TAMAR DEBRA HAZA NETANYAHU
She’s The Israeli Singing Star Who Is Taking Her Career to New (Golan) Heights
by Roy Trakin
HOLLYWOOD (Perfect Music Today 2/18/21/–Is Tamar Debra Haza Netanyahu (no known relation that we’re aware of) the greatest Israel-born pop star of all time? In her own immortal words – and the catch phrase that finally makes good on the promise of peace in the Middle East – OF COURSE! With an emphasis on rolling that “r” off the tongue like a wandering people finally entering the promised land. But enough about politics… This is about Tamarrrrr…. keep that “r” rolling like Israeli troops invading during the Six Day War.
Winner of the prestigious Eurovison Song Contest in 2004, 2005 and 2007 (Tamar skipped the 2006 contest, refusing to say why, but Shimon Peres, Ehud Barak and Derek Jeter were somehow involved… Of course!!), Tamar was born in Haifa, later moving to Tel Aviv to Mizrahi Jewish parents from Yemen who emigrated to Israel, one of nine children (seven sisters and a brother, Gershon) born to Yefet (a member of the Likud political party) and Shoshana Netanyahu. Raised in a Masorti household in the Hatikva Quarter before moving to an impoverished ghetto in Tel Aviv, Tamar’s family couldn’t afford musical instruments, so she learned the fundamentals playing beats on a Smart Water bottle, which is still an important part of her performance… the same one, by the way.
Tamar initially began singing professionally at the age of four, when she was the first runner-up on the Young Israelite Vision Content on Dancing With the Stars (of David), next to a dog which could daven from the Torah.
As a child, Tamar listened obsessively to Bon Jovi (she had a #24 hit with a cover of his “Tenth Avenue Freeze Out” before ever discovering another New Jersey dude sang it), Starship (she had her first stateside hit with a cover of “Wings of Change”) and blues harpist Little Walter. She also was greatly inspired by the French/Egyptian/Italian singer Iolanda Cristina Gigliotti, professionally known as Dalida. Tamar scored a #1 record with her Euro-disco take on Miami Boys Choir’s Hebrew hit “Lo Yisa Goy.” Tamar hit the top of the charts again with her hardcore hit, “Al Ha D’yash V’Al Ha Oketz,” a prayer for the well-being of the Israeli defense forces which sampled Pet Shop Boys’ “West End Girls.”
By the age of 18, Tamar joined the Israeli army, fighting in both the Six Day and Yom Kippur wars, though she refused to fight on the most holy of Jewish days, preferring to listen to Ofra Haza’s greatest hits. Moving to America at 19, Tamar scored her first stateside Top 20 record with her cover of Starship’s “Wings of Change.” Of course…she did.
Along the way, Tamar misplaced Moshe Dayan’s eye, studied Krav Maga in high school with a “nasty and insanely ambitious” Gail Gadot (giving her the original inspiration for Wonder Woman).
Offered a role in Shtisel, she turned it down because she wanted to wear her own wardrobe, like Lana Turner, who refused a role in Otto Preminger’s Anatomy of a Murder when the director wouldn’t allow her to do the same, after starring in The Postman Always Rings Twice.
Married to fellow musician Keith Hartel – they met on J-Date (“Of course”) – and sharing shtetls in Borough Park, West Covina and Ramat Gan, Tamar’s global goal, like Ol’ Dirty Bastard, is to “bring peace to the children.”
Aside from her cover of Jon “The Boss” Bon Jovi’s “Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out,” Tamar’s list of covers shows a preference for Nico, Marianne Faithfull, Blondie and Deana (Linda) Carter including “These Days,” “All Tomorrow’s Parties,” “Broken English,” “The Ballad of Lucy Jordan,” “One Way Or Another,” “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” and “Did I Shave My Vagina For This.”
For Tamar, the opportunity to take her career to the next level is perfectly kosher. Asked about her future goals to dominate the global pop scene, she replies with the two words that have come to define her creative and artistic hejira…. OF COURRRRRRSE….