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THE SONGS OF THE SIREN: Engineering National Time on Israeli Radio



This article explores how Israeli radio stations regulate national time in accordance with Jewish–Zionist temporal regimes. Informed by an ethnographic study of popular music programming on national and regional radio stations it is shown how broadcasting schedules operate as a uniform pendulum alternating between everyday life and times of commemoration or emergency. Following examples of music broadcasting during Memorial Day for Fallen Soldiers, the first Gulf War and terror attacks during the second Palestinian Intifadah the author explores a practice of “mood shifting” that is borrowed from the bureaucratic logic of commemoration rituals to times of war and terror attacks. The mood shift activates a commemorative mode that echoes sacred mnemonic devices of Jewish remembrance. Consequently, it is argued that times of emergency in Israeli culture are represented through and subordinated to sacred experience, substituting a political interpretation of terrorism with a mythic framework.