Sunday, October 28, 2012

Lay Down Your Arms: Israeli Peace Song

The Habonim Youth Choir of Toronto, conducted by Esther Ghan-Firestone and directed by Eli Rubenstein, perform an Isreali peace song written by Doron Levinson, an Israeli soldier temporarily blinded in war, and written in memory of his comrade who fell in battle during the 1973 Yom Kippur War. The soloist in this 1992 performance is 17-year-old Tara Strong. The Hebrew words are taken from Isaiah 2:4: "They shall beat their swords into ploughshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation shall no longer raise up arms against nation, neither shall they teach their children war any more."

I know the song and the desires it raises are unrealistic, notably today when extremists seem the norm in leadership, but one always needs hope that some day peace will become the norm. One serves a few individuals, who profit from war; the other serves all humanity, who profit from peace. You can read more about the history of the song here. As Eli Rubinstein writes:
Perhaps the most important line is: "Every hand that holds a sword can hold a baby," which suggests that every human being can shape the moral contour of his life. The line brings to mind the unforgettable image of the firefighter attempting to rescue an infant after the tragic bombing in Oklahoma City. It reminds us of the extremes of good and evil humanity is capable of: the murderous hand of a terrorist who planted the bomb and the compassionate hands of the rescuer who tenderly [holds] the lifeless baby while the senseless inferno rages behind him. "Every hand that holds a sword can hold a baby..."

[English lyrics]
by Lisa Catherine Cohen

Dear God, please hear us—Listen to our prayer,
And help us do Thy will upon this Earth...
Let the children suffer war no more.
And let a peaceful world be given birth
Every hand that holds a sword can hold a baby
Every heart can learn to love...
Lay down your arms
Begin the journey home
And join the human family
Bridge: The road is long and steep
What we sow, we reap
Children need you:
Let us lead you—
Promises we make we all must keep
Somewhere deep inside the soldier,
There's a dreamer
Dreaming of a world of peace...
Lay down your arms—
Let Time heal every wound,
And Love will someday set us free!


  1. Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of the militant group Hezbollah, famously commented: “If we searched the entire world for a person more cowardly, despicable, weak and feeble in psyche, mind, ideology and religion, we would not find anyone like the Jew. Notice I do not say the Israeli.”

    1. His rhetoric is not surprising; he's a pre-modern in thinking, or at least he uses pre-modern ideas to keep his followers in lock-step with his fatalistic ideology. That the European Left supports the anti-Jewish rhetoric says much about its influences; lurking behind the scenes, smiling, is the charge of deicide. Extremism breeds more extremism. It's a losing proposition for all aides, most notably Peace.


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