“Correcting the Words” of Hatikvah–Israel’s National Anthem

UPDATE 7 pm Israel time Saturday:

The residents of Judea and Samaria have had enough. The daily Molotov cocktail and “rock” attacks against Israeli motorists came to a head a few days ago when a pregnant Israeli was wounded by “rock” throwers as she drove her car near Karni Shomron.

The head of the Bnei Shomron community speaking at the junction last night.

Last night, at the site of that attack, Jewish community members turned out to protest the lack of security on the highways of Judea and Samaria. Not only is there a greatly reduced number of security personnel but also there has been talk of reducing or even eliminating the money the government spends to put armor on the cars of Israelis living in Judea and Samaria. 

However this morning, in the face of the increased attacks, the government approved the expenditure of 2.5 million shekels (about $700,000) to continue equipping private vehicles in Judea and Samaria with armor against “rocks”. Unfortunately, this passive, stopgap solution doesn’t really address the underlying problem–sooner or later the phenomenon of “rock” throwers must be actively confronted by the IDF. 


Dear readers, your humble servant begins today’s blog with two different renditions of Hatikvah–Israel’s beautiful national anthem.

First, you will be transported to Munkacs, Hungary in the early 1930s where a group of children at a “Hebrew Gynasium” are singing Hatikvah. As you listen to the children’s singing, please reflect on the fact that all of these children were murdered at Auschwitz. Click here.

Second, I encourage you to also listen to another version of Hatikvah–and think about the extraordinary efforts of those who came to modern Israel and built the country. Click on this link.

“As long as the Jewish spirit is yearning deep in the heart/ With eyes turned toward the East, looking toward Zion/ Then our hope – the two-thousand-year-old hope – will not be lost/To be a free people in our land/The land of Zion and Jerusalem.”

The last few years have seen a strange dichotomy in Israel. On the one hand, the Israel Ministry of Education has implemented guidelines requiring Hatikvah to once again be sung by children at the beginning of school everyday. This singing has perhaps played some small role in the resurgence of a Zionist spirit among Israeli youth.

On the other hand, the Israeli left has boosted its efforts to create a “new national anthem” or at least to change the words of Hatikvah to remove all references to “Judaism” and “Zionism.”  

This latter effort was brought into sharp relief yesterday when Dr. Ruth Calderon, a new Knesset member from Yair Lapid’s new party Yesh Atid, “recoiled in sadness” as Arab members of the Knesset left the Knesset chamber as Hatikvah was being played. Here is what she posted on her Facebook page: “It saddens me that Arab members left the hall before the playing of the anthem. Does anyone know of efforts to correct the words of the anthem so that all citizens of the country would be included?”

Correct the words of the anthem? 

The words of Hatikvah express the soul of Israel–the only Jewish country in the world. What if those Jewish children in Hungary had had the chance to come to Israel? What if the other six million Jews who were slaughtered in the Holocaust had had a Jewish country to come to?

This morning, one of the leaders of Shas, Eli Yishai, spoke for many Israelis–including your humble servant–when he said: “There are some issues I thought were not in dispute, like the Jewish character of the State of Israel. I want to inform those who are not aware – Israel is a Jewish state!


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