Carol Green Ungar

We’re Coming Back Home–Israel through Our Music

If you want to know what is going on in someone’s heart, listen to their music The same holds true for our beleaguered Jewish nation-state. Our popular music mirrors our collective soul and tells a remarkable tale of our transformation.

When the war began, the airwaves pulsed with the beat of the militaristic rap hit Harbu Darbu, with lyrics listing names of IDF units. The song, yet another in a long tradition of hundreds of military anthems, delivered the Zionist message clearly.

. “A bunch of f… rats coming out of the tunnel..all the IDF are coming to do Harbu Darbu on your heads.”

But as it became clear that that wouldn’t be the script—we are, after all, armed by the US. He who pays the piper calls the tune, and our music changed.

Soon, our ears were filled with an oldie called “Coming out of Depression,” a catchy but weird and apolitical song seized upon for its message that “good days will come,.” making it the soundtrack of choice for a new genre of videos of soldiers showing soldiers returning home to their wives, mothers, and kids.

As Eden Golan enters the finals, our ears are focused on our country’s Eurovision entry, Hurricane, a revision of an earlier and far more meaningful song called October Rain about on the Oct. 7 massacre at the Nova Music Festival.

Under heavy pressure from Israeli President Yitzchak Herzog, the offending lyrics were removed, and the song, once a stunning masterpiece of political poetry, turned into a hackneyed love ballad which is now being judged.

Interestingly, the Hebrew coda,  at the end was also changed. In October Rain, that last lyric lamented the loss of a young life, but in Hurriance the lyricist writes, “No need for big words. Only prayers. Even if it’s hard to see, You always leave me one small light.”  What an elegant, understated declaration of faith. If only that coda could be combined with the original October Rain!-

That lyric reflects a sea change in Israeli culture. During the 90s, when the Oslo Accords were signed, the song of the day was Shir HaShalom, the Song of Peace with its famous lyric, “Sing a song for peace and dont whisper a prayer.” capturing the early Zionists revolt against religion.

Israel has changed. Once again, and especially after yesterday’s cut in our munitions supply, we are the people who dwell alone, friendless except for G-d, but we are turning to G-d, leaning into our ancient craft–prayer. Since the war began, our new national anthem has become Eyal Golan’s Am Yisrael Chai, with its lyrics. “The Holy One, Blessed be He, watches over Us, the people of Israel live.”

This is the music our kids sing and our soldiers sing before going into battle.

There are no atheists in foxholes. Today the entire state of Israel and, indeed, the entire Jewish nation into one big foxhole, and as we are singing and dancing our way back to Hashem.

About the Author
Carol Ungar is a prize-winning author who writes from the Judean Hills.