3) This was my home – Zeh haya beyti – זה היה ביתי
A song exploring concepts of “home”, and the emotional impact of the Gaza disengagement.
For in-depth background information about the disengagement from Gaza in 2005, and educational activities, we would suggest you dip into “Engaging with Disengagement”
Listen/watch the two versions of the song.
The original version by Meni Begger in 1981.
And the remake of 2005.
Start off the discussion by simply asking people for their responses to the songs – let them respond spontaneously first. This may already set off an interesting conversation. When this has run its course, (or if they have nothing to say,) move into the structured part of the discussion.
The structure of the discussion is based around an ancient form of Jewish spiritual literary criticism used throughout the Jewish world, summed up by the acronym, PaRDeSS. Feel free to mention this to your participants, if you feel it is appropriate.
Pardes means orchard, and it’s a symbol of the Garden of Eden and spiritual enlightenment. Broken down, it points to a four point method of text appreciation.
P stands for Pshat. This means the simple straightforward understanding of a text. At the Pshat stage, we just make sure everyone has understood the basic meaning of the song.
R stands for Remez. Remez means ‘clue’, and it refers to cultural and sociological references in the song. At the Remez stage we look for references to events, people, situations that exist outside of the song’s immediate scope.
D stands for Drash. This means the message. What is the message that the writer is trying to communicate? What is s/he trying to tell us, or teach us, or convince us? What’s the point being made?
S stands for Sod – secret. This is a far more complicated concept in its religious context, but for our purposes, we can say that the Sod stage is where we explore how the song touches us – our thoughts, our feelings, our world.
Work through the songs, clarifying language and understanding. Is there anything that we don’t understand?
The original song “This was my home” was written and performed by Israeli rock star Meni Begger, an immigrant from Turkey. (Meni Beggar was the first Israeli to attempt to break through to the English-speaking market in the early 80s, recording an album in London. It didn’t make it.) Though the song drew on the experience of his own aliya, the song happened to emerge just prior to the exacuation of Yamit in 1982, executed as part of the peace agreement with Egypt. Begger’s song became emblematic of the struggle of the Yamit settlers, some of whom then moved to settlements inGaza.
In the summer of 2005 Israelwithdrew from the Gazastrip. At the same time Israeli soldiers and police evacuated all Jewish inhabitants of Gaza. Some families evacuated independently, but most remained, waiting to be taken from their homes by Israeli soldiers and police. Many could not believe they were being made to leave their homes. There were many political responses to the ‘disengagement’ – many mass demonstrations took place around the country – and for a while prior to the execution of the disengagement there were fears of civil war breaking out. In the end, resistance was mainly passive and spiritual. See here for a different, more specific collection of images attached to this song. This song was one of the rare songs that caught the true mood of the disengagement – anger, regret, and deep sadness.
- Is the remake a fighting protest song, or a song of defeat?
- In the opening rap verse of the remake he talks of ‘me’ and ‘them’. Who are ‘them’? Are his opponents here Palestinians or Israelis?
- What does the rapper think about those who supported the disengagement? What does he think the disengagement has achieved?
- Is he more concerned about the national, political implications of the disengagement, or about the personal ramifications?
- What is home to you?
- Do you live in the same home your parents were children in? Were you involved in building your house? Have you ever moved house?
- When in your life are you going home, and when are you leaving home?
Suggestion for further activity:
The disengagement was completed before the end of August 2005. What has happened since then? Answering this question is something of a political minefield. Rather than offering some ‘facts’, we would suggest you leave this work to your participants! Set your participants a research project. Google will lead them to more than enough information and opinion about the consequences of the disengagement. We suggest you make sure to find answers to all of the following:
- What is the situation of the evacuees today?
- In what way has the number of attacks from Gaza on Israeli citizens changed since the disengagement?
- In what way has the number of Israeli army casualties changed since the disengagement?
- In what way has the number of Gazan casualties changed since the disengagement?