It has been slightly over two days since the official Cease Fire between Israel and Hamas. The IDF troops have pulled out, and Hamas has been quiet. How long will this last? There is no direct answer. It has been proven time, and again, that Hamas has a trigger-friendly finger on the rockets of Gaza. So, we are all hoping this peace lasts, but we are weary eyed that it may not last forever, due to several acts of precedent.
I listen to a radio station that is called Galgalaz. It was established in the mid 1990’s as a radio station by the IDF, for soldiers. Soldiers can place requests, listen to official news briefs, and sometimes full units can choose the songs for a set hour of time. The music on the station is a combination of Israeli pop, American and European rock, and some oldies, but goodies.
Galgalaz is my source of a melding of American and Israeli culture. I can listen to music, and learn new Hebrew vocabulary. I can also learn what is the pulse of the Israeli public by listening to the station, as well. I honestly love listening to this station more than listening to my pre-set I-pod lists, youtube playlists, and the like. Why? I just love to listen to the randomness of it all. I love the Mizrachi rocksters combined with the rock legends like Johnny Cash, all mushed into one play set in what seems to be a symphony of welded cultures.
For the past month, Galgalaz has been playing soft, sad, muted tones. This lull was duly noted, for it was a time of war here, as well as the time of mourning before the commemoration of Tisha BÁv, the 9th day of the Jewish month of Av. Tisha BÁv, is a day of mourning and fasting for the loss of the Jewish Holy Temple in Jerusalem over 2.000 years ago. One of the many customs is to refrain from playing music, or listening to live music during the three weeks before the fast day. This year, the mourning period corresponded with Operation Protective Shield. So, the tunes on the radio were slow ballads, and accapella, not the usual upbeat rock n’ roll of the past.
Yesterday, I realized that the real rock n’ roll had returned to the radio. Upbeat, happy tunes were playing again. Had the pain ended? In a sense, due to the combination of the cease fire and the end of the Jewish mourning period, the music was allowed to return. Various soldier units were chosen to create an hour of playlists for the listeners. The song choices were brilliant, and thoughtful. Each song had more meaning than the next.
As I listened to the radio, peppered with modern upbeat tunes about peace, war, silence, and love, a song started on the radio. It was a song by Ehud Banai, a song called הופעת מילואים (Performance for the reserve troops) about an older man, who is called in for reserve duty. His job is to entertain the troops. But, he gets up, in front of the troops, and he cannot sing. He looks out at the twenty young men and women, and he cannot perform for them. He is at a loss for words.
Ehud Banai adds so briliantly:
מבול יורד עלינו עכשיו
מפסגת לבנון עד סיני
פורט בגיטרה ושר לטבח:
“ים של דמעות בשתי עיני.”
אור נרות נשמה
לא עוזב לא עוזב
שיירה ארוכה על נתיב מסוכן
שיירה לאיפה את הולכת
A flood is descending now,
From Labanon to the Sinai dessert,
The guitar began to play,
And I sang to the local cook,
“There is a sea of tears in my eyes.”
The memorial candles
Do not end
Do not end
They keep flickering.
To the long convoy,
On the dangerous path,
Convoy, where are you going?
I heard this powerful song, and began to cry in the car. The situation described by Ehud Banai could be real, or fiction. It is of no matter to me. It is the fact that this is the reality in this land we call Israel. Men and women are called for reserve duty, for they have served in many wars, and sometimes it drives them to be speechless. Even the songwriters and rock stars can be driven to silence. No one is immune.
Although the Cease Fire is in affect, no one is really aware of the consequences. We ask ourselves, where is this convoy of peace going? Is it on a dangerous path? Will we return to true normalcy? Where are we really going? Will we flicker like the memorial candle for our fallen soldiers? Or, will the singing return, strong and brave, like soldiers fighting for the right to exist. I hope the silence does not continue. I hope the music will never end here. Please don’t stop the music.
Link to the song הופעת מילואיפ by Ehud Banai: