My amazing day: The Yonatan victory march

I originally wrote this piece in April 1914 but it seems to be again timely because of last week’s commemoration of the Entebbe Rescue Operation. Apologies for not including theĀ  amazing song recording by the Black Diamond Trio led by Richard Peritz but I shall make amends by sending you the blog with the song recording and lyric attached.

Yesterday, the eve of Remembrance Day for Israel’s 23,000 fallen soldiers in all Israel’s wars, turned out to be an unexpectedly amazing and memorable and deeply moving day for me. A few weeks before that I had learned that the son of my dear friend, the poet Melvyn Millman who died in 2010, worked in the Prime Minister’s office and I gave him my only copy of a record made in 1976 of a song I wrote then as a tribute to Yonatan Nentanyahu, the Prime Minister’s brother who led the Entebbe rescue operation and who was killed in the gun battle to free the Israeli hostages. The song “The Yonatan Victory March” was recorded by a very fine and well-known group called The Black Diamond Trio with an arrangement by its leader Richard Peritz. Here you see Ben Reuven presenting the one remaining copy of the original CD to Prime Minister Netanyahu.

I had forgotten all about the record when I suddenly got a call from the Prime Minister’s media aide Eran Ruplidis who said they hoped to present the prime minister with the record and could I come and sing the song to him. Of course, I agreed and began to feverishly rehearse a song I hadn’t heard or sang since 1976, and amazingly it came back to me without great effort. However, after that I didn’t hear from Eran and presumed nothing had come of it, until suddenly yesterday morning at about 815 am Eran phoned me to say the event was on and could I be at the Prime Minister’s building in the Kiria National Government Complex in Jerusalem by 9.30. So, armed with my guitar and music stand I was there exactly at 9.30 and for the next half hour had to undergo questioning and examination by the very polite guards to make sure my guitar wasn’t a machine gun or some missile. However they had been apprised of my arrival, and just before ten I was met by Eran, and we rushed to the entrance to the Prime Minister’s office waiting for the meeting. But then my heart sank because the prime minister was apparently so busy with urgent political affairs and meetings with his cabinet ministers that he wasn’t able to fit me in for a few minutes. Anyhow, Eran in his very pleasant manner, put me at my ease and told me to wait in the hall outside and hopefully we would soon be able to go in to meet the Prime Minister. So I sat there with my guitar raising quite a few eyebrows and quizzical stares from famous cabinet members who rushed in and out of the Prime Minister’s office.

At about 11.30 the Prime Minister himself rushed by with his retinue and very kindly gave me a very rapid handshake before disappearing into his office. Eran from time to time appeared to make sure I was still waiting in my armchair and time went by and I spent the next three hours rehearsing the song.

By this time I had almost given up hope. Then suddenly at 2 p.m. Eran rushed up and told me to come with him and we and the photographers were ushered into the Prime Minister’s office. And in no time I found myself standing next to the Prime Minister, handing him the ancient record and explaining all about it. And then I sang the song about his brother, standing next to him as he listened visibly moved after which he thanked me and told me how much the song meant to him, and he shook my hand with his very firm handshake and I wished him much success in dealing with the great challenges facing him.. During the meeting the photographers took photos and also made a video of the singing.

 

About the Author
London-born David Herman came on aliyah in 1966 after graduating from Cambridge University. In the 1960s, he founded the Good Times Publishing Company specializing in publishing newspapers in simplified English, French and Arabic for the Israeli school system. David currenty works as a translator, and is also very active in the field of songwriting and performing under the musical name, David Ben Reuven.
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