Sunday, December 08, 2013
Thank you, Stalin; Kudos, Uncle Joe
By Steven Plaut
I would like to propose that the Jewish people of the world find a day in which to express their gratitude to Joseph Stalin for liquidating Jewish members of the bolshevik party. The Jewish people is much better off these days thanks to so many Jewish members of the bolshevik party having been removed by Stalin from the Jewish gene pool. Israel is also a better place thanks to this, for, without their liquidation, many of these communists may have found their way ultimately to Israel. And indeed the world is a better place without them.
Now none of this is to belittle the level of absolute perfidy and evil that characterized Stalin and his regime. It is simply to note that, in the midst of all that evil, there were actually a few items of long term benefit that emerged from Stalin's regime of horror. Of course, alongside these Jewish communists, Stalin murdered millions of innocents, including many innocent Jews. No one condones that. We just need to be a little bit grateful that thousands of Jewish mischievous communists did not survive Stalin's repressions to show up in Israel and help the Radical Left there undermine the state. A small communist party did operate in Mandatory Palestine starting in the 1920s, but it never amounted to much. A second Marxist party, MAPAM, played a role in the growth of the Jewish institutions in the Land of Israel. It was denounced by Moscow, and generally treated as a pariah by David Ben Gurion and the mainstream Zionist movement. What remains of it today is a splinter inside the tiny Meretz Party, a leftwing opposite group.
Sure, Stalin was a deranged anti-Semite. Just see this book about that. And we all know about the Stalinist fabrications with regard to the supposed Jewish Doctors Plot and other cases of his anti-Semitic conspiracism. I do not make light of any of that.
Joseph Stalin was one of the most truly awful persons in all of human history. He is surpassed only by Hitler on the scale of evil, and in a few areas he himself actually managed to exceed the level of evil in Nazism. Stalin mastered the intentional genocidal famine as an instrument of state policy to terrorize the Ukrainians and others. In the Holdomor in the Ukraine, many millions were intentionally starved to death. Stalin's favorite instrument of reign was state terror. He ordered untold millions shot and tortured in the Great Purge, including much of the Red Army and the Bolshevik Party. He signed the "deal" with Hitler in the Ribbentrop-Molotov pact, and his people were among those who paid the price for this treachery. He launched wars of aggression against his neighbors. And Stalin was an anti-Semite. His anti-Semitism dominated his last years of life but was present well before that.
Bolshevik state terror did not begin with Stalin. Lenin was the original figure who advocated massive terror as official state policy. (And Trotsky was at least as devoted to the idea of state terror as Stalin; Trotsky just was annoyed that it was not HE who was running the state terror instead of Stalin!) To Lenin's credit, he had a generally positive attitude towards Jews (unlike Marx), even while he opposed all political expression by or organization of Jews, including in the Bund (which advocated Yiddish language-based cultural autonomy). Lenin thought Jews were more civilized and better behaved than Russian and Ukrainian peasants or urban ungenteel lowbrows with their poor tailoring. Lenin opposed all forms of Jewish nationalism, separatism and even autonomy, not just in the form of Zionism, but admired Jews as disciplined sober literate individuals, as long as they were willing to join his party and obey him.
It is also true that the early bolshevik party had more than its share of Jews. These were by and large anti-Semitic Jews and devoted communists. As it turned out, non-communist Jews were often the first victims of communist parties that acceded to power, and not just in the USSR. The bolshevik party was never a Jewish party, in contrast with the libels that the anti-Semitic putrescence always asserts, and indeed the bolshevik party was actually in many ways an anti-Jewish party. Nevertheless, for reasons best worked out by psychiatrists, quite a few Jews were attracted to early bolshevism and many rose in its ranks for a while.
On the eve of the February Revolution in 1917, the Bolshevik party had about 10,000 members, of whom 364 were Jews. Between 1917 and 1919, Jewish Bolshevik party leaders included Grigory Zinoviev, Moisei Uritsky, Lev Kamenev, Yakov Sverdlov, Grigory Sokolnikov, and Leon Trotsky. Lev Kamenev had a Jewish father. Trotsky was also a member of the ruling Council of People's Commissars. Among the 23 Narkoms between 1923 and 1930, five were Jewish.
According to the 1922 party census, there were 19,564 Jewish Bolsheviks, comprising 5.21% of the total. Jews made up 7.1% of members who had joined before October 1917. Among members of the Central Executive Committee of the Congress of Soviets in 1929, there were 402 ethnic Russians, 95 Ukrainians, 55 Jews, 26 Latvians, 13 Poles, and 12 Germans. Liquidation of these bolshevik Jews began with the assassination of Moisei Uritsky in August 1918. Then Yakov Sverdlov died supposedly of disease in March 1919 and Sokolnikov was eliminated. In 1922, Jewish members in the Central Committee, the Politburo's new name, had shrunk to three: Trotsky, Zinoviev and Kamenev. Eventually they were all liquidated by Stalin: Zinoviev and Kamenev in 1936 and Trotsky in 1940.
Stalin renewed the killing of Jewish bolsheviks after World War II, including members of the wartime "Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee." Solomon Mikhoels was assassinated on Stalin's personal orders in Minsk. His murder was disguised as a hit-and-run car accident. Other leading members of the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee were arrested, charged with treason, bourgeois nationalism and planning to set up a Jewish republic in Crimea to serve American interests. In all, some 110 JAFC members were arrested or killed. During Stalin's purge of the Red Army, when 40,000 officers were executed, 169 Jewish generals were among those killed.
What is interesting in all this is that nearly every Jewish member of the Soviet Union's bolshevik party was murdered by Stalin. Certainly the senior party members were, but so also were many rank-and-file communists. Among those murdered were Jewish communists who decided to migrate to the Soviet Union from other countries to help build "socialism" there. These even included Jewish communists from the parties operating in Mandatory Palestine. (Jews were not the only bolshevik pilgrims to the USSR; others, notably Finns and Armenians, were similar dupes.) At least one "kibbutz" was built in the Crimea in the USSR by Jewish communists from the yishuv in "Palestine." Again, with very few exceptions, these were all killed by Stalin.
Even Stalin could not eliminate all the Jewish communists. Some survived. Alas, one finds them today at the fringes of Israeli politics, and a couple of departments at Tel Aviv University consist entirely of Jewish communists. Notable TAU Stalinists include the fanatically anti-Israel Yoav Peled, Shlomo Sand, and Yehouda Shenhav. Tel Aviv University regularly holds Stalin Days and the University officially collaborates with the communist party. See this and this. A communist party leader ran recently for mayor of Tel Aviv and was trounced.
But the presence of such fringe political rubbish in Israel is not Stalin's fault. After all, Stalin certainly tried his best to eliminate all Jewish bolsheviks, and the fact that he fell short should not detract from the worthiness of his efforts in this regard. Without Stalin's purges of Jewish communists, Israel might have ended up with thousands of Tamar Goszinkies and Dov Khenins (leading Jewish Stalinists in Israel's predominantly-Arab Communist Party today).
Stalin was born on December 18, which usually falls around Hanukka time. [Interestingly, Stalin died on Purim. Think about Haman when you ponder that!] Yes, I agree that it behooves us all to denounce Stalin's countless crimes and unfathomable evil. But I guess December 18 is as good a day as any for Jews to remember that, thanks to good ole Uncle Joe, Israel and the rest of the Jewish world were spared the need to cope with thousands of demonic Jewish communists. If people prefer to hold the celebrations in better weather, August 20 is also an appropriate date. That is the date on which a Stalinist agent introduced Leon Trotsky to mountain climbing equipment.
Saturday, December 07, 2013
With Pearl Harbor Day just behind us, I thought the timing might be ripe for re-posting this.
It appeared in the Jerusalem Post on June 7, 1994 - when Peres was Foreign Minister in the Rabin government:
The Holocaust According to Shimon Peres
by Steven Plaut
Recently Foreign Minister Shimon Peres expressed a "Two-Holocaust" theory of the events transpiring during World War Two. According to Peres, the Nazi Holocaust of the Jews and the American dropping of atomic bombs on Japan constituted twin Holocausts, and presumably this means they were morally parallel or equivalent to one another.
Such a comparison has by now become fashionable in certain politically-correct circles in Western countries, and it would not represent the first instance in which the thinking of the current government was motivated by a passionate desire to conform with international political fashion. But going beyond political fad, it is intriguing to attempt to reconstruct the thinking of our Foreign Minister, leading up to this remark in his "Shoah Show".
If the Holocaust of the Jews is analogous to the destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Peres' "mind," then it follows that he views the Holocaust of the Jews as an event that must have occurred in the course of an all-out conflict deliberately launched by the Jews, in which they, like the Japanese, enslaved the better part of an entire continent, pillaging and tormenting the populations while systematically murdering millions. German actions must have also been taken to prevent much greater suffering and far larger numbers of victims.
If the Nazi Holocaust of the Jews is analogous to the American bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Peres' "mind", then the former must have been a moral imperative and absolutely justifiable. The bombing of Hiroshima brought an end to the War in the Pacific without necessitating the ground invasion of Japan. In such an invasion, hundreds of thousands - perhaps millions - of Allied soldiers would have died. Millions of Japanese would also have died.
Shortly before the atomic bombings, 7,000 US soldiers were killed and 18,000 wounded taking a desolate island called Iwo Jima. Then 12,000 US soldiers were killed and 35,000 wounded taking Okinawa, making that a battle on a par with Gettysburg. On Okinawa 100,000 Japanese were killed. (Okinawa was then held by the US as a militarily-governed "occupied territory" for four decades with never a hint of an intifada. Can you guess why there was no intifada?) All this is indisputable proof of how severe the carnage would have been on the Japanese main islands from an Allied invasion and conquest.
It is estimated that 55 million people died in World War Two. If the atomic bombs shortened that war by merely a week, the carnage they wrought was one of the greatest "bargains" of human history.
The atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki rank as one of the most moral, high-minded, humane, and unambiguously justifiable acts in the history of mankind. It is true that tens of thousands of Japanese died in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and that many of these were also "innocents." It is also true that the number killed in both cities dwarfs in comparison with those killed by the Allies with conventional weapons in the bombings of Tokyo and Dresden, to name only the two most notorious examples in World War Two.
In Dresden alone tens of thousands of Germans were killed, doubtless many of these "innocents." If the 70-100 thousand killed in Hiroshima justify ranking that event as a "Holocaust," morally equivalent to the destruction of European Jewry in Peresian "thinking," then I suggest that Peres should have the courage of his convictions and speak out about the "Triplet-Holocausts," adding Dresden to the cohort. He would just be repeating what certain circles of Europeans have already been suggesting. Better yet, why not add the 200,000 Republican Guards of Saddam Hussein, mercilessly butchered by Allied weapons in the first Gulf War, many of whom were doubtless innocents, and raise the size of the cohort to quadruplets?
Let us have some consistency here.
What is much harder to explain is how it could be that the Number Two politician in the Israeli government could voice such a position, 50 years after the real Holocaust.
Monday, December 02, 2013
The axis of evil, the alliance of jihadi Islamofascism with anti-Semitic Leftism, has a new cause and it is bashing Israel over its supposed mistreatment of the Bedouins in the Negev. Israel, you see, holds the racist opinion that Bedouins have to obey the law and cannot simply seize any parcel of land they want to own and keep it without paying for it. As you know, Israeli leftists believe Arabs should be exempt from obeying the law because they are gosh oh so oppressed. Enforcing any laws for Arabs is racist and discriminatory. Israeli Arabs held violent "protests" yesterday, demanding that the entire Negev be turned over to the Bedouins, and they were joined by Jewish communists and Israeli Leftists for a Second Holocaust.
Ben Dror Yemini "outs" the campaign of the axis in this excellent piece, a bit long but worth reading:
The blood libel film
Ben-Dror Yemini November 29, 2013,
The main star of the film is Theodore Bikel, who was recruited for this role mainly because of his past portrayal of Tevye the Milkman in Fiddler on the Roof. The film, in a propagandized play on words, is called Fiddler with no Roof, and that is nothing compared to the film's content. The Bedouins are portrayed as the victims of the terrible expulsion decree that was issued against the Jews in the dark days of the anti-Semitic Tsarist regime, as described at the plot of Fiddler on the Roof. And a plot is just what it is. Difficult to believe, but the film was produced by Rabbis for Human Rights (sic).
Standing shoulder to shoulder with this film, as usual, is Haaretz, which provides innumerable articles, all with the same angle, all presenting the same position, about the thieving and oppressing state, and about the expelled Bedouins. Freedom of debate and expression has never looked as neglected as it appears in this uniform, Bolshevist perspective of the newspaper for people who all think the same.
The debate over the proper procedure of the settlement of the Bedouins is an important debate. Some say that the Bedouins are nomads, that their entire claim to land ownership is fictitious, while others claim that the state should recognized their claims of ownership even if these are not consistent with recognized registration methods, from the Ottoman period, then the British, and now, of course, the Israeli.
For years the Israeli authorities have been struggling with this issue. On the one hand, the ownership claims have been rejected outright in legal proceedings. In some of the claims, the assertions of "ownership for hundreds of years" were exposed as fraudulent. Aerial photographs from the last century proved that "a settlement that had existed for centuries" had not even existed for a few decades.
Despite the legal determinations, the state decided on a generous arrangement. Every Bedouin family is entitled to a plot of land in one of the Bedouin towns built in the region where they live, and there are plans for the construction of many more towns. These arrangements attempt to approximate the Bedouin tradition and heritage as much as possible.
For this reason a plot of land in a Bedouin town is nearly one dunam (1/4 acre), which is much larger than the plots in other towns. (Few Jews own this much land -- SP) On the other hand, this is an arrangement that is in line with accepted practices in modern countries, in which land ownership requires registration, and in which human habitations require infrastructure, running water, connection to the electricity grid and paved roads.
This is no simple matter. There is a clash between a nomadic tradition and a modern country. Israel is not the only country that, over the course of its establishment, has had to contend with the claims of population groups with different lifestyles. Australia had issues with its aborigines, in the U.S. it was the Native Americans, in Scandinavian countries it is still the Samis who complain about historical and current deprivation, and many other countries have gypsies.
The propaganda film does not present the tough dilemmas. The film makes life easy for itself. Israel is portrayed as the cruel anti-Semitic ruler, expelling and disinheriting and destroying and robbing, and the poor Bedouins stand helpless in the face of this abysmal cruelty. There is nothing like the expulsion of the Jews in Fiddler on the Roof to accentuate the tragedy, and to play on the most sensitive heartstrings of the world in general, and of Jews in the U.S. in particular. Here we have one more proof of what Israel is doing to its minorities. Here is one more proof of apartheid, racism, and other accusations from the familiar list.
There is, of course, just one problem with the plot of this film. It never happened.
Let's take, for example, the repetitive chorus of the past few weeks, which sounds like this: "The Bedouin community of Umm al-Hiran is slated to be turned into Hiran, a community for Jews only, via the disinheriting and transfer of the Bedouins, in accordance with the racist policy of the State of Israel." This is also a summary of the claims in a series of articles in Haaretz.
After setting sail on the sea of lies, it's worth returning to the solid ground of facts. First, the Bedouin members of the Al-Qian tribe, who are the focus of the current fuss, were transferred to the Yatir region of the Negev decades ago, of their own volition and at their request, due to a dispute with another tribe.
Second, when Hiran was being planned, a little over a decade ago, there were only a few Bedouins there, if any. The move to Umm al-Hiran occurred mainly in the wake of the plans for the new town. Aerial photographs prove this.
Third, only a small part of the master plan for Hiran is on the land occupied by the new squatters.
Fourth, adjacent to the Al-Qian compound, the state built Hura, a proper Bedouin village, with paved roads, electricity and water infrastructure and more.
Fifth, every family in the tribe is entitled to receive nearly a dunam of land. Even a bachelor over 24 is entitled to a plot of land, in preparation for future generations.
Sixth, in addition to the free land, with free infrastructure development, each family also receives monetary compensation for the previous, illegally built house where it lived.
Seventh, and here we're in for a surprise, most of the tribe – 3,000 of the 4,000 members – actually felt this was a fair arrangement, and they indeed moved to Hura.
Eighth, Hiran is not designated only for religious Jews, and also not only for Jews. Any Bedouin who wishes to buy land there is invited to do so and is entitled to do so. Of course, that would cost money. In Meitar, for example, Bedouins from the surrounding area decided to buy plots of land. No one stopped them.
How is it possible to produce a film that completely ignores the background, the benefits granted to the Bedouins, the legal rulings, etc.? In response, Rabbis for Human Rights (sic) claimed that the court rulings are inapplicable and that even courts make mistakes – the Bedouins receive state compensation for only some of their lands, the transfer was executed under coercion, and even those who chose to move to a community like Hura did so out of lack of choice. The rabbis continue to claim that Hiran is designated for religious Jews, and that Bedouins will not live there. The detailed response can be found in the undersigned blog.
The rabbis and the journalists and the activists have the right to present the problems with the arrangement. They have the right to claim that the Bedouins have greater entitlements, and that any place where a camel walked, or where a Bedouin pitched his tent for the night – is his and his descendants' forever. Criticism of government proposals, such as the Praver Plan that was drafted following the report by the commission headed by retired Israeli Supreme Court Justice Eliezer Goldberg, is legitimate. There are arguments that are worth voicing. Maybe there should be a better solution.
This campaign, however, is not criticism, but rather deception, disregard for the basic facts and incitement against the state. The campaign that is spreading like wildfire all over the world portrays the racist anti-Semitic style expulsion being perpetrated by Israel. Even the well-known self-righteous (neo-nazi -- SP) Norman Finkelstein has joined the fray, completely caught up in the excitement over Bikel's heart-wrenching words. Finkelstein never misses an opportunity to goad Israel.
"This film clip is not, perish the thought, intended to compare Israel to Tsarist Russia," write the rabbis on the web page accompanying the film. This appeared only in Hebrew. Following Yedioth Ahronoth journalist Nahum Barnea's criticism of this outrageous comparison, Rabbis for Human Rights issued an press release that, "in certain respects, the Praver expulsion is worse than the expulsion of the Jews to the Pale of Settlement," and we, they say "are concerned about Israel's image."
The concern is highly illustrated in the film. In its English version, the film leaves little room for doubt. Someone on the production team is a skilled propaganda artist. The film depicts a Bedouin receiving an expulsion notice. He refuses to leave. Suddenly two threatening helicopters appear overhead. Who knows, perhaps they are carrying bombs. Everything is insinuated. After all, no one claimed they were bomber helicopters. They simply appear in the sky.
An excellent, manipulative trick to promote the hate campaign and the exploitative state. At that stage the demolition bulldozers appear, and interspersed with them, as expected, photos of exiled Jews trudging to their bitter fate. As if the context were not clear, Bikel ends the film with a monologue that leaves no doubts: "What hurts even more is the fact that the very people who are telling the Bedouins to get out are the descendants of the people of Anatevka."
A viewer unfamiliar with the facts is left full of anger and ill will. A masterful work of atrocious propaganda. Israel is not a civilized state. Israel is a monster.
In the background a campaign has being going on for a long time, crafted by Haaretz. There have been a lot of baseless claims, but I will make do with just two that were published this week. Oudeh Basharat claimed that Israel was robbing the Bedouins of land in Umm al-Hiran, and immediately called this apartheid. One day later, Prof. Eyal Gross claimed that Bedouins were being evicted from their homes in order to build a Jewish town. When a lie is repeated a thousand times, it becomes fact.
The words transfer and apartheid appeared in the campaign, in order to finger the culprit. This, of course, is the Zionist enterprise. This is what it did in 1948. This is what it is doing in the territories. This is what it is doing to the Bedouins. This is how incitement is created. This is how demonization is done. Haaretz readers have no inkling that Bedouin began to live in Umm al-Hiran only after the initiative to establish Hiran. Is it unreasonable to demand that a law professor know the facts before writing a report?
A fair arrangement for the Bedouins is no simple matter. One thing certain is that the path the state has chosen is not expulsion, disinheriting or transfer, but rather a generous offer that has cost and will cost the state hundreds of millions of shekels, and provides the Bedouins with tremendous benefits. This is discriminating against the Jews and affirmative action favoring the Bedouins. No Jew is entitled to receive free land in a Bedouin community, nor to buy land that is offered to Bedouins at reduced prices, when that possibility exists. A Bedouin, on the other hand, can choose between a Bedouin community and a Jewish community. If he wants to live in Hura, there is land with infrastructure waiting for him, at no charge. If he wants to live in Hiran, he may do so, under the same conditions as a Jew, Armenian or Buddhist.
When "rights groups" and Haaretz automatically side with the Bedouins who oppose the arrangement, rather than with those who support it, the arrangement is doomed to failure. Just like the "forces of progress" in the world, who fan the flames of the boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign and the fantasy of the Arab Right of Return. This is no way to reach an arrangement, and only bolsters the objectors. This perpetuates the suffering and the conflict and the bloodshed. What the "progressives" are doing for the Palestinians, the "rights activists" are now doing for the Bedouins.
Truth be told, it is doubtful if there is a population anywhere in the world with similar characteristics, native or nomadic, that has been awarded such a generous settlement. But the propaganda film has managed to reverse this picture, such that matters must be returned to the proper perspective. It's not that Jews are doing to the Bedouins what anti-Semites did to the Jews. Just the opposite. It is the "rights groups" and Rabbis for Human Rights, and it's Haaretz that are continuing the old, despised tradition of libels. In the past it was against the Jews. Now it's against the State of Israel.
Sunday, December 01, 2013
(Too good to save for Independence Day)
Just a fast "only in Israel" story for you.
Friends of ours just got married and spent part of the honeymoon in Safed, the city of kabbalah and mysteicism. There they wanted to join in one of the local synagogue congregations for prayers that were devotes of Shlomo Carlebach. For those not familiar with him, Carlebach was a singing "hippy" rabbi in the US active in the 60s and 70s, who composed some beautiful melodies for prayers and religious songs. (I met him a number of times in the 60s when he came through Philadelphia.) His songs are popular among Jews all over the world, but there are some congregations that see themselves as special followers of Carlebach and sing as many prayers as possible using his melodies. You can hear many of these on Youtube, including Carlebach Yom Kippur services.
Our problem was to find the Carlebach synagogue in Safed. As it turns out, there are five Carlebach congregations, two main ones, just in Safed. At the hotel we asked the doorman to show us on the map where the main congregations were. He sat with us patiently at length, explaining the pluses and minuses of each congregation, one closer but the further one has some charms the closer one does not, and marking the map to let us know the best way to get to each. The doorman seemed to know everything there was to know about the local Carlebach congregations.
The doorman in question is an Arab whose first name is Jihad.
Friday, November 29, 2013
In my humble opinion, these are his best albums:
Thursday, November 28, 2013
A fast afterword on the death of Arik Einstein. The past 48 hours saw an interesting transformed Israel, where the funeral and ceremonies for Einstein dominated the news and the talk on the street, erasing Iran from the headlines, and every radio station has been playing nonstop Arik Einstein songs in an atmosphere that is a little like Memorial Day here.
In any case, since it is a little difficult for those who do not speak Hebrew to appreciate Einstein's music and lyrics, a collected from the web English translations for some of his better known songs. These are but a small portion of his entire repertoire but give you a nice feel for his style and diversity.
1. This is another Einstein Greek-imitation song but read the lyrics and their powerful Zionist message, one of his best songs of patriotism:
The Song of the Caravan: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KLKZi1pfRJs
English Translation of Lyrics: http://elmsintheyard.blogspot.co.il/2012/05/shir-ha-shayarah-caravan-song.html
*(Can you guess who the "old man" is in the song?)
2. One of Einstein's best loved songs: Clip - Drive Slowly: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VVnRh-raz2s
Translation Lyrics in English: http://www.historama.com/online-resources/israeli-music/israeli_singers_bands_music_online.html#Slowly
3. How good you came home: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Che2jea8z_Q
4. Clip: San Francisco: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HRQJ87yBPsM
English Translation of Lyrics:
5. Ani V'ata: Clip at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ETqJxlBrQbc
English Translation Lyrics: http://www.hebrewsongs.com/?song=aniveata
6. Finally, one of the stranger of the Arik Einstein songs became the semi-official song of mourning for Rabin after he was assassinated by Yigal Amir. The song itself was originally written by Aviv Gefen as a song mourning a young personal friend of his who died, and in fact Gefen had written a separate song mocking Rabin and dismissing him as a bumbling drunk. Then after the assassination, the words to the mourning song were slightly altered and it became the universally played song in Israel to express the shock from the assassination, and Einstein's rendition of it is the best known and most "official." You can hear the song here:
To cry for you - clip http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dtkHYM35CC8
English lyrics: http://hebrewsongs.com/?song=livkotlecha
See also this: http://www.haaretz.com/culture/arts-leisure/1.560395
Wednesday, November 27, 2013
Israel is a much poorer country this evening, having lost Arik Einstein. He died last night at age 74.
I have over the years posted lists, especially around Independence Day, of what I love most about Israel and invariably Arik Einstein is high up on the list. Einstein was in many ways the epitome of the modern Israeli, the sabra. He is often described as a "folk singer" but that term is misleading. His music contained much of what is positive and beautiful in the contemporary Israeli soul. He was among the best that sabra Israeli culture has produced.
I believe that, of all the arts, Israel's greatest achievements are in its music, especially its popular music. There are many different styles and flavors and countless superb singers and performers. And in the midst of all this, Einstein always stood out. He was the secular sabra from the bohemian circles of Tel Aviv who refused to pursue the political fads of so many of the other members of the chattering artsy classes. His was a deeply felt if humble pride in his Israeliness. Judaism for him was captured in that Israeliness and needed nothing more, and he was not really a Jewish singer beyond being an Israeli singer. He never preached. He did not sing about religious themes. If he had political opinions, he kept them to himself. He never had the saccharine melodrama of singers like Yehoram Gaon.
It is said that Will Rogers never met a man he did not like. Well I do not think there is a single Israeli who did not like Arik Einstein. His appeal crossed all barriers and lines and classes and subdivisions. There are styles of Israeli music that appeal to only subsets of the population, like Oriental music or religious music. But Einstein was beloved by everyone from all walks of life. His secularism never alienated the religious. His quiet love of country never offended the politically correct. His patriotism was not a political proclamation but rather it was expressed in songs of affection for and attachment to country, to the land, to places, to Ein Gedi, to history.
He loved "Land of Israel" songs, ballads of love of country from yesteryear. He could sing songs from the Palmach from the 40s without sounding corny, stale, or archaic. He could sing old songs of the pioneers, and then transition into modern love ballads. One of his most famous songs was about the beauty of San Francisco, a song also filled with deep longing for home in Israel and anticipation of returning to the mundane of life in Tel Aviv. The Ashkenazi northern Tel Aviv bohemians saw him as one of their own, and even they raised no objection to his patriotism, as he sang, "This land, this land is OURS."
His was the life of the Ashkenazi sabra salt of the earth. Born in Tel Aviv, he made his musical debut like so many of the generation of the 1960s in Israeli army musical troupes. He worked in theater after completing his military service.
His humor was legendary and characterizes the many clips, movies, and performances of his. He played the young kibbutznik in the Israeli classic movie Salah Shabbati, one of the only Israeli movies ever made worth watching. His music was a bit of Paul Simon, a bit of Woody Guthrie, a bit of folk-rock, and a bit of so many others. And his musical career lasted for decades. Some 10 or 15 years back he stopped appearing. Rumors are that he was suffering from depression. The live performances ceased all the while his music continued to dominate many fhe airwaves. In 2010 a survey found that his were the most widely played and heard songs on Israeli radio of any performer. He spoke to the ordinary Israeli. His songs were about driving old cars, eating watermelon, strolling in Tel Aviv, doing reserve service in the army.
One of my very favorite songs of Einstein is this, "Fly Away Little Bird": http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vkiv2jHaWsg
It is a lovely description of the fears and hopes of parenthood as a child strikes off in independence. It is a song to which few parents can listen with dry eyes. The clip has Hebrew subtitles but you can see an English translation here:
http://ulpan.com/uf-gozal.html It is a highly typical Einstein song.
A highly atypical song, but another of my favorites, is Einstein's parody of Greek music. Einstein had a delicious sense of humor, and this is really worth watching:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4cygVEtou0E The guy in beret with moustache is Arik.
Youtube has a large number of other clips if you are interested.
Arik was buried today in the Tel Aviv "Trumpeldor Cemetery."