November 16, 2018

Judea Pearl: A Poem for Israel’s 61st

(Free Translation from Yaron London’s MIRDAF)

Generous land, her veins full of honey
and blood in her rivers like water still flows.
Land whose tall mountains are carved out of copper
But her nerves out of iron, she knows.

A land whose long history is but chase after chase,
Two thousand pages plus one,
The air in her lungs half consumed, she is tired,
But will chase back her foes in the run.

She, who can see her thin life from the sideline
Shaken like a leaf, clinging to her place,
Yes, she is fearful, but as if not concerned,
Will wait for the end of the chase,

The end of the chase is in hiding, she knows,
but will come, like the sun that ascends eastern slopes.
And till then; our feet shall not stop, shall not tire
from chasing the heels of those hopes.

From the thousands of songs written in Israel since her birth, I find London’s MIRDAF (The Chase) to be the most poetic expression of Israel’s struggle for survival and peace. In the wake of the war of this past year, I thought it would be appropriate to translate this song into English and share with readers of The Jewish Journal this poetic mixture of our concern for Israel’s precarious position and our confidence in her eventual endurance. It is a free, non-literal translation, which attempts to capture the rhythm of the Hebrew lyrics and the spirit of the unending Chase.

The song was written for Micha Shagrir’s documentary film “Mirdaf”, during the War of Attrition (1968-1970). It describes the military situation along the Jordan border when PLO raids against Israel, followed by IDF chases after the perpetrators, became a daily routine.  The song was first performed by Chava Alberstein, to music by Nahum Haiman and can be heard on you-tube (search for Mirdaf). Some years later, Haiman tried to make it in Europe and gave “Mirdaf” to a beautiful singer named Marie Lafore who used the music and ignored the lyrics. In French the song became a romantic ballad called “Un bouquet du fleurs.”  Yaron London is one of the Israel’s top TV anchors, and hosts the popular “London and Kirshenbaum” talk show.