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‘Song of Peace’ Redux

In the late 1960’s, well after the Six Day War, a whine-filled “peace song” titled Shir Hashalom became popular among Israel’s teeny-boppers. At the time it was not played on the state-run radio because Golda Meir disapproved of its message, which included the following stanza:

“Nobody will return us 
from the dead dark pit.
Here, neither the joy of victory
nor songs of praise
will help.
So sing only for peace,
don’t whisper a prayer,
it’s better to sing a song for peace
with a giant shout!”

It was basically a song insisting that peace was there on the shelf for Israel to pull out, and if there was no peace yet it was basically because Israel did not want it enough. Back in
those days the Israeli Labor party under Golda was still a Zionist party, although not particularly democratic. Israel was still a one-party state under the near-totalitarian rule of the
Labor party-MAPAI.

Anyway, the song quickly became a cliche and largely forgotten by most people. But then in the early 1990’s the Labor party made a sharp turn to the left, abandoned all pretense of
being a Zionist party, while the distinction between the Meretz (nee MAPAM) party and the anti-Israel HADASH Arab communist party all but disappeared. And the song underwent a
rebirth.

When Yitzhak Rabin started implementing the Beilin-Peres ideas about Israel appeasing its way to peace with the PLO, the song became almost a second national anthem, especially because Labor leftists were increasingly uncomfortable with the words of the actual national anthem Hatikva, what with its unabashed references to the yearnings of the Jewish soul and all.

Shir Hashalom was sung and played at that last “peace” rally where Rabin spoke before he was assassinated by Yigal Amir. The song became associated in people’s minds with
Rabin himself and became a sort of semi-official musical representation of the Oslo zeitgeist.

There is one interesting twist about the song. Namely, its writer. Shir Hashalom was written by one Yaakov Rotblit. I am not sure what his political ideas were back 35 years ago when the song was written and while I was studying sociology (wince, grunt, gulp), but it turns out that the very same Rotblit is today decidedly un-Left. Indeed, he is one of the important figures fighting against the plan to ethnically cleanse the Gaza Strip of Jews and expel the settlers.

Reflecting his current ideology, Yaakov Rotblit has composed and released a new song. It is a song that mercilessly attacks the Israeli Left, so you will not be surprised to learn that
the state-run radio stations do not play it. It is called ‘Song of the Land of Israel.’

Rotblit released his new song just before the Likud referendum a few weeks back, in which 60 percent of Likud voters rejected Sharon’s plan for new appeasements. It was right after the referendum that Sharon morphed into the Israeli Mugabe, insisting that Likud voters can go to Hell, and besides, what the heck do the voters know about anything anyway?

If you read Hebrew and your computer has the fonts, you can see the words to Rotblit’s new song at http://www.fresh.co.il/dcforum/Politics/8278.html.

Here is a translation of parts of the song (it is considerably longer). You think Aviv Gefen will sing this at the next Rabin Square super-rally?



My life have I given for you, Eretz Yisrael
Land of Israel,
The mists of purity filled my head,
I had believed they were the will of G-d,
The Jewish nation, the return to Zion.


Every single kibbutznik,
sitting in his kibbutz atop the ruins
of an abandoned Arab village,
is suddenly a bleeding heart liberal,
while declaring that I am Public Enemy Number One,
building on ‘occupied’ land a new colonial empire.


They want to see me walking bare-headed,
In a mourning sack after my home is destroyed,
While the poet from Sheikh Yunis, which is today
Ramat Aviv,
Will write poems for the New York Times about
‘justice.’


Don’t call it ‘transfer’ or expulsion,
Your spin doctor will find a new name for it.
And the court will declare that
human rights and civil rights
Just have no bearing on this,
Because the New Left
and the Old One despise me
As do the media moguls and the industrialists,
The ones preach to the impoverished that
they are poor because of some
settlers in Hebron.


So when Jews hate other Jews,
Get the bulldozer running Arik,
Let’s start the destruction.”


Steven Plaut is a professor at Haifa University. His book ‘The Scout’ is available at Amazon.com. He can be contacted at steven_plaut@yahoo.com

About the Author: Steven Plaut is a professor at the University of Haifa. He can be contacted at steveneplaut@yahoo.com.


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