Palestinian Flag, Israeli Flag and Peace Symbol

May You Live in Peace, שלום and سلام 

Penny S. Tee Article, Uncategorized

 

The end of 2021 is quickly approaching and I thought I’d write to wish you a Happy and Healthy New Year. Our fateful trip was in 2014, and ever since, I’ve been writing blogs and articles, written my book, speaking and for almost a year I’ve been busy writing and  interviewing guests for “PEACE with Penny.” 

It’s hard to believe it’s been seven years since this journey began. “PEACE with Penny” is my video podcast, during which I interview Israelis and Palestinians who really make a difference working on Peace together. Yes, there really is hope, the news just doesn’t often report that side of the story. They say Peace isn’t sexy, but to me, it gives me multiples : )

I hope you’ve joined us. And you know by now that Peace in Israel is my thing, what I long for. It all started with a trip to Israel, July 2014. Yes, I’m still suffering from the Jewish guilt of taking my son to war for his bar mitzvah present, which is the subject of my book “BLASTED from Complacency: A Journey from Terror to Transformation in Israel.” Seeing and feeling the percussion of the exploding bombs in the air while hiding in bomb shelters, made me want to work on Peace. Thank you, Iron Dome, for protecting us. During that particular war, over 4000 Palestinian missiles were sent against Israel. The death toll of Palestinians vs. Israelis is always pointed to, showing Israel as the aggressive one. How many Israelis would have been killed if those missiles would have been allowed to land? Would a death toll of dead Israelis exceeding Palestinians soften the world’s opinion? When will Israelis and Palestinians finally be able to drop their weapons, realize neither is going away, and live together in Peace?

The incessant continuation of this unnecessary violence is the subject of my commentary. Music is the muse. Lately, music keeps pointing me in my next direction. For instance, I recently interviewed an Israeli rapper, Uriya Rosenman, who with his Palestinian partner “Saz” Zakout, put out a rap called “Let’s Talk Straight,” that went viral. The YouTube rap video shows two men, one Israeli and one Palestinian, hurling insults at each other. You might hear the same on any street or at a holiday dinner with relatives. Knowing what the other thinks of them sometimes is difficult yet is required understanding to begin to work on Peace.

But today, I’m talking about a song that came out many years ago, called “The Winter of ‘73.”  Get your Kleenex box out now. Writing this, I’ve gone through quite a few tissues.

It was a song about the impact of the Yom Kippur War, but it’s so much more than that. Such a long-time longing for Peace. It’s a song written and sung in Hebrew, so if you’re an English speaker, it requires translation—but only somewhat. Music and video can build that bridge at times that defies even having to know what is being said, as we watch with tears in our eyes, and the audience we watch in the clip, proves.

The war now, was nearly fifty years ago. OMG, that’s the year I graduated high school. I suppose remembering bell-bottomed pants and tie-die shirts, instead of having to look at pictures, makes it official, I’m old. Yes, I’ve looked in the mirror lately, but the eyes don’t work as well as they used to either, and sometimes that’s a blessing too : )

This song is filled with so many poignant moments, being Jewish, having been a child and a parent, it got me to my core.

It’s a song from the Israeli children, acknowledging the pleasure their parents sought in their bodies after the war, to create, and not destroy life:

“We are the children of winter 1973…

When you conceived us with love in winter 1973

You wanted to fill up with your bodies that what the war had taken away.”

 

It concedes the sadness of war and acknowledges the sanctity of life:

 

“When we were born the country was wounded and sad

You looked at us you hugged us, you were trying to find solace

When we were born the elders blessed us with tears in their eyes

They said: ‘May these children never have to go to the army.’”

 

Living in the United States, and not having been required to send my son or daughter off to war after high school like Israeli parents do, I definitely count that as a blessing. They were hopeful in the beginning of the song, but it didn’t work out.

It talks of the importance of keeping promises and the promises that were made and alas, broken…

 

“When we were young you said one needs to keep promises…’

 

“And your faces in the old pictures prove

That you said it from the bottom of your hearts

When you promised to do everything for us

To turn an enemy into a loved one”

 

Oy, as a parent this really gets to me. Don’t we all try our hardest to get and do for our children, everything we can? And these defeats resulted in injuries and loss of life. It intimates that not only was one child’s heart broken by their failure, but that of a whole nation and its brother/sister, if only Palestinians would allow themselves to be described that way (thankfully, some would).

 

Their plea…

 

“You promised a dove,

An olive tree leaf,

You promised peace

You promised spring and blossoms

You promised to fulfill promises,

You promised a dove”

 

And now the accusation and the understanding of the difficult position their parents were in. Wanting to give to their children what they could not.:

 

“We are the children of winter 1973

We grew up, and now we’re in the army

With a weapon and a helmet on our heads

We laugh and cry

We are men and women

And we too dream about babies

This is why we will not pressure you, or make demands of you or threaten you

When we were young you said one needs to keep promises

If necessary, we will give you the strength

We will not hold back; we just wanted to whisper—

We are the children of that winter in the year 1973”

 

It was first performed by the musical troupe of the IDF’s Education Corps, in April 1994, on Independence Day of 1994. Young soldiers with so many years of life ahead and dreams to fulfill. It’s become a kind of national anthem in Israel and the people on the streets know it and sing along.

By April 2011, seventeen years later on the Memorial Day for Fallen Soldiers, when it’s sung in the video clip, four of the original singers performed it. The difference now is that they are forty years old. Far too many wars have been waged between the Israelis and Palestinians since they first sang the song.

As you watch the audience listen and in fact, sing along, at a point amidst the sadness, you even see tears (00:53-00:56) as a father sits with his young son, or later from a woman in the audience. Oy. O.K., that did me in, next Kleenex box.

Where else but in Israel would you find this open wound so vulnerable and exposed? They want Peace, why is the world, and those especially in the Middle East, so deaf?

And now it’s been another decade since. More death and pain. When will it end? Will it be soon? We can only hope. It’s long past due.

Both sides have their extremists, but there are also Peace activists. The politicians seem merely to want to save themselves. It will take the people to solve the problem.

So now, 2021 is closing. Some good news, please. Let’s talk about the fact that there are Israelis and Palestinians who work today on Peace. PEACE with Penny is filled with interviews with these angels on Earth this past year and will be next year too. So many people work with all different age groups, and reference points whether hi-tech, like our recent interview with Tech2Peace or with A.M.A.L – Spoken Arabic for All,  where Palestinian college students teach Jewish Israeli elementary students Arabic, it’s varied and beautiful. If you missed any, please check them out here.

I’d like to thank Dr. Daniel Gordis for his observations on this subject. It was his article that I read that gave me the background.

As we reach the end of 2021, we at PEACE with Penny wish you a safe, healthy and happy New Year. Thanks for listening. We are grateful that there is hope, and

May You Live in Peace, שלום and سلام

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