This is the week that Israelis celebrate the miracle of Israel's existence—but only after they've acknowledged the horrific price survival continues to exact. A conversation with Maytal Itkis.
I want to thank you for posting this column.
I found it on Google when I was looking for a translation of "the children of winter 73" that I could send to so some friends in the US to give them a perspective on how Israeli music and attitudes to war are different from what they are used to.
Your description of the song by the children of winter 2003 is very moving and very effective.
I want to add some details about Yehoram Gaon that could make it even more effective for US audiences.
Yehoram Gaon was born in Jerusalem in 1939.
He was 9 years old during the war of Independence when Jerusalem was under siege.
In the 1960 he was part of the Gesher Hayarkon trio that sang "Krav Harel" (https://youtu.be/qlAoq1Y9DDM) about the 1948 battles to relieve Jerusalem (commanded by a young officer called Yitzhak Rabin). The Hebrew lyrics for that song were written by Haim Hefer and they deviate in significant ways from the Gibson's original civil war trio (https://youtu.be/n4wBoGUff-4). The difference sheds a significant light on how anti war songs from the US were adopted and adapted in Israel. Here these protests are associated with soldiers defending their homes who are "shooting and crying" not with draft dodgers who want to bring the boys back home. Krav Harel is sang by soldiers in the first person telling the girl wearing black that only 10 of them returned but she will see the road to Jerusalem open.
In 1969 shortly after the six day war Yehoram Gaon won the national song competition with the "medic ballad" which is still heard on every Yom Zikaron. This may not mean much to American audiences but it is part of the timeline ... He was now singing about his own generation.
Then after the Yom Kippur war, as a veteran one of Gaon's greatest hits was another song by Hefer in which he promises his little girl that this will be "the last war" (https://youtu.be/uOUAkJ60uNA) in the name of the weary tank troops who are covered in soot.
It is this promise that the "children of winter of 73" song refers to.
Hefer and Gaon had no right to make that promise because they could not keep it.
But the children of 73 take on the commitment to fulfill what they can of that promise even though it was originally made to them.
And so do the children of 2003.
The tears in Yehoram Gaon's eyes (and the audience) have much more meaning than appreciation of the musical talent.
There are echos here of courage in the face of near hopelessness from "כמו סיסמא יהיה השיר מדור לדור" (https://youtu.be/GySmJr3uX0s) and "לפתח הר געש" (https://youtu.be/kYBVPEbJC6U) but I am not sure if those sentiments can be explained to an American audience. The chronology of Yehoram Gaon's songs on the other hand is straightforward enough that I am sure you can find a way to use it.
Very moving; thank you.
I think it is time to change to anti-jew instead of antisemite
Sadly, this is the story of many families in Israel. Thank you for presenting it.