Several days after Yitzhak Rabin was murdered in 1995 by an assassin opposed to the peace process, the Israeli author David Grossman was driving through a forest preserve just outside this city. He noticed a car stopped on the shoulder of the road and slowed to see what might be the matter. The motorist, he saw, was scraping off a bumper sticker that said, 'Rabin Rotzeach'' ('Rabin is a Murderer').
At that moment Mr. Grossman, a novelist and essayist, fathomed the peculiar and intense importance of bumper stickers in Israel, where sometimes an entire car can be pasted with them, endorsing any cause from Palestinian statehood to the expulsion of Arabs to the coming of the Messiah. He began to scribble down examples, enlisted friends and family members to do the same, and ultimately collected 120 slogans, united only by their brevity and certitude.
Now he has transformed 54 of those phrases into the rhyming lyrics of a song, which has been recorded by one of Israel's leading rap groups, Hadag Nachash, and become the surprise pop-music hit of the season. Radio stations play it ubiquitously, and the album containing it has topped sales charts and sold 15,000 copies in only two months, the equivalent of 750,000 in the United States. To use another American equivalent: imagine the dazzling unlikeliness of Russell Banks having collaborated with Mos Def or Chuck D on a chart topper.How long before we see a similar concept song using "heimish" bumper sticker slogans like "Drive away Lashon Hara" and "Hang in there, Shabbos is coming!"