Hamas Tried to Scare us. Instead they Made us Laugh and Dance are Hearts out.

When the song was first released, there was much of it that Israelis couldn’t understand. Partly, this is because the Gazans doing the singing can’t pronounce all the letters in the Hebrew alphabet. So a crucial word like piguim (the Hebrew word for “terror attacks”) comes out as biguim—a nonsense word that doesn’t mean anything at all in Hebrew. Imagine a song in English that calls dozens of times to mount horrific “terror attacks,” but in each case uses the expression “terror aggacks” instead, and you get the idea. The effect is a bit like the priest in The Princess Bride who keeps trying to get his audience to understand the sanctity of “mawwiage.”

As if this weren’t enough, many of the Hebrew phrases used in the song are ornate to the point of being incomprehensible to young Israelis. I asked one of the soldiers I talked to for examples, and he immediately began rattling off verses from the song by heart to make his point: “Avad alav hakelah venilach [‘Its time is past, it is polluted’],” he said to me. Where did they get those words? Venilach? What kind of a word is that? I mean it’s Hebrew and everything. But no one talks like that. It’s like they were sitting there and looking up words on Google Translate.”

So “Up, Do Terror Attacks!” began its phenomenal rise in Israel as something people could only half understand. But it didn’t stay that way for long. Almost instantly, Israeli soldiers and their brothers and sisters at home began collaborating to try to piece together the lyrics. Versions were posted and then counter-versions, complete with Talmudic disputes over the intended meaning of this or that verse, until a consensus finally emerged as to what Hamas’ songwriters were in fact saying. Here’s my translation based on the current state of the online scholarship:

[Chorus:]
Up, do terror attacks,
Rock them, inflict terrible blows,
Eliminate all the Zionists,
Shake the security of Israel!

Aim to make contact with the Zionists,
To burn bases and soldiers,
Shake the security of Israel,
Reveal volcanic flames of fire!

A country of weakness and delusion,
When it comes to war, they cannot hold out,
They blow away like spider’s webs,
When they meet the valiant!

Shake the security of Israel,
Set the heart of her [i.e., Israel] on fire like spider’s webs,
Demolish her down to her foundations,
Exterminate the nest of cockroaches,
Expel all the Zionists!

The hearts of the Zionists, each one turns,
In a different direction, and does not identify,
They are frightened by death, and they run to hide,
Behind walls and in reinforced rooms!

It is an illusion, it will not succeed,
Its time is past, and it is polluted,
Gone, like mice in a parched field,
Get close then open fire, all at once!

Rock them, now, multitude of missiles,
Turn their world into a scene of horrors,
Burn into their minds a great miracle:
That they are being expelled, and we are going to stay!

This is pretty extreme stuff. Remember, we are not talking about the private initiative of some nut with some studio time. This song was released by the current government of Gaza. It calls for laying waste to Israel down to its foundations. And it alternates between proposing that the Jews of Israel (“Zionists,” as the song calls them) be exterminated like cockroaches, and that they be expelled from their country. It’s a little dizzying to think that this unblushing call to genocide—to killing me, my family and everyone I know—was written, recorded, and released by a government in power 50 miles from my house here in Jerusalem. But it is what it is.
Source: Yoram Hazony

Published: August 20, 2014
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