A gentle children’s song questioning war, is transformed into a powerful anti-war tirade.
Why these songs?
While we must hold on to our aspirations for peace in Israel, we must also begin to face the possibility that most of our lives we will be engaged with Israel at war. What can we, non-Israelis, do with this? We can begin by asking ourselves honest questions, and engaging in an open conversation.
This discussion might be one that a facilitator will need to think about carefully. It might be a discussion that at first you don’t feel ready to run with your particular group. If so, it might be worth your while finding some contemporaries to talk with about the issues, before running the session. Too often we don’t respect our own needs to churn over topics before presenting them to others: give yourself the opportunity!
Screen and listen to Uzi Hitman performing the original in 1979.
Look over the translation. Allow for a general conversation, while drawing attention to the ambivalence at the heart of this simple children’s song. With a group of people with a ‘musical ear’, it might be worth screening and listening to a performance Uzi gave on Israeli TV, where the children’s choir very clearly clashes with a spooky bridge….
Then screen and listen to the HaDag Nachash version.
The song itself packs a huge punch. When performed live in front of an Israeli audience of young people, the listening is intense, with a terrible rage growing on the stage and in the audience as the chorus is repeated.
Suggested Questions to explore:
- What kind of effect do the wars and the terror attacks have on your connection to Israel? Do they strengthen, or weaken it?
- Have you ever been able to have a deep conversation with an Israeli man who fought in a war? If not, why not?
- Have you ever been able to have a deep conversation with an Israeli who lost someone dear in a war or terrorist attack? If not, why not?
- What would you say are the challenges inherent in these kind of a conversation?
- What do you find it easier to relate to: Yom HaShoah, or Yom HaZikaron? Why?
Some information about the artists:
Uzi Hitman was one of Israel’s foremost musical composers and lyricists, as well as a successful vocalist and a very popular television personality. Uzi was raised and educated in a traditional Jewish home. Being the son of a cantor, his music was often influenced by Jewish Liturgy and tradition.
He wrote more than 650 songs, many of which became “classics ” both in Israel and in Jewish communities around the world. His melody for Adon Olam is known and sung all over the world. Other classics include “Kan”(here)- which received second place in the 1991 Eurovision song Contest in Rome, “Noladeti lashalom”(I was born for peace) – dedicated to Anwar Sadat on the occasion of the peace treaty signing between Israel and Egypt.
“Ratziti Shetida” is another favourite, originally written for a festival of children’s song. Its naïve melancholy struck a chord in Israel, with many people of that generation able to sing it off by heart.
This well-loved and hugely respected artist died unexpectedly in 2004, some two years after the release of the Hadag Nachash reinterpretation of Ratziti Shetida.
Hadag Nachash are one of Israel’s most successful bands. They are known for their sharp, witty, and often political lyrics, performed by an eight-piece band that includes both a brass section and a DJ. Several of their songs are featured with translations at MakomTV.