There’s not nearly enough overt Judaism in music these days. Sure, you might see Drake re-enacting his Bar Mitzvah in a music video, but it’s not a defining aspect of his identity, like Action Bronson’s beard or Kim Kardashian’s sex tape. Luckily for me, Tel Aviv’s Jewish Monkeys have moved in to fill that Matisyahu-shaped hole in my heart with Semitic satires of age-old classics like Harry Belafonte’s „Banana Boat“ that are more lulz than a, umm, barrel of monkeys. So I rang them up to talk Judaism, two-state solutions and circumcision…
WHO ARE THE JEWISH MONKEYS?
By Aleks Eror
Soooo, how did the Jewish Monkeys come about?
Jossi: We started when we were in our 30s, about 10 years ago, we did a cover of Harry Delafonte’s Banana Boat and we made this joke about two Jews who are quarreling with an Arab. We smashed it up with „Hava Nagila“, and we found a producer in Tel Aviv who was very fond of what we do… and the rest is history.
J: I don’t know, I always thought about the Monkees in the 60s and we’re three very funny people so I said „listen, we’re the Jewish Monkees, this could be a nice band name’ and somehow Ronnie and Gael accepted this weird idea. We like politically incorrect stuff; people who are very politically correct get goose bumps when they hear our name.
Gael: Jewish Monkeys is also a way to not take ourselves too seriously.
Well, when I was doing my research I found that somewhere in the Qur’an it said that Allah transformed a certain group of Jews into apes, I thought it was a reference to that kind of humor.
J: There are also some anti-Semitic connotations to this name but it’s not connected to our decision to use it, we just happened to be Jewish.
Are you fighting anti-Semitism with humor?
J: It’s like a contradiction, it’s satire which is also what most of our lyrics are all about.