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Choose Your Music

Choose Your Music

The Israeli army plays songs about peace and the end of war. The music speaks volumes.


As the Israeli mother of two sons, now 19 and 22, I have attended a great many ceremonies at school, camp, and now, the army. Yesterday my husband and I drove down to the desert and sat in a grandstand as my son and 128 other young men and women stood on the parade ground in 41C degree (105F!)heat to receive their non-commissioned officer stripes in the artillery corps. And once again, as always happens at these events, we were struck by one of the wonderful anomalies of our "military" existence. The music.

Almost all the songs played while the soldiers march are songs about peace. About the end of war. About how glorious it will be when we can take off our uniforms and live in peace. About flowers in the barrels of our guns. About using destroyers to transport oranges. About the dove with the olive branch.

This is why, when we hear international media reports of massacres, we know who to believe. We know how we have educated our children from pre-school. We know what songs they have been singing.

If you want to know the truth -- listen to the music.

We know of the reservist guys who took up a collection from their own pockets and gave a Palestinian family 2000 shekels to repair the hole they had to break in the wall of their house when looking for terrorists. We know the guys who rolled up the carpets and washed the floor of the house they had to occupy, so they could return it in good condition to its owners. We know the soldiers who volunteered to give blood to help the Arab civilians that were wounded during a battle. We know them because they are our sons and our husbands and brothers, and because we know what songs they have been singing all their lives, even when being awarded military honors.

I am certain there are exceptions to this rule, that not every soldier is noble and moral, that some abuse their power, that a few may even enjoy brutality. But they are rejected by the mainstream. Boys in the army are constantly lectured on "The Purity of Arms," and how a soldier must be a moral person. This is a long tradition, from before the rise of the State, and has remained our tradition through all the wars forced upon us, and even during this long dispute, which, if anyone does his homework, will realize is the result of yet another war forced upon us which we refused to lose.

This is why the Israeli army is what it is. And this is why evidence showing us babies being brought up on blood and bombs and suicide and Jihad makes us only feel more strongly the morality of fighting for our little corner of the world.

If you want to know the truth -- listen to the music. It's loud and clear.

July 20, 2002

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Visitor Comments: 7

(6) Marvin Schneider, September 5, 2008 11:29 AM

Pnina was a rare and unusual individual in whom were combined the best of Israeli and American culture. A person of tremendous talent, she had a way with words and music which was expressive and incisive, usually spellbinding. To have known her was a pleasure and a privilege. She was taken from us prematurely, yet has made an indelible imprint on our lives. To say that she is missed is a tremendous understatement.

(5) Michal Isseroff, March 10, 2008 1:31 PM

Sadly Pnina Isseroff, has past away today

Dear family,
A beloved cousin, Pnina Isseroff, died this morning, after a long struggle with lung cancer. She passed away while under sedation at an Israeli hospital. She was a choral conductor, singing coach and award winning actress. She also just published two books of poetry and essays-one for adults, "Magical Machine" and one for children, "Monsters are Coming to Lunch" (iUniverse). If anyone wants to know how to get a copy(s), please contact me.

The burial is tomorrow on Mar 11th 2008
The Isseroff Family USA

Jettie June Hutchison Harris, August 17, 2011 8:17 PM

An old Friend!

Pnina and I were friends at Westminster Choir College. I still own a beautiful necklace which she made for me so long ago. I recall our long talks about Lukas and her work in Israel when she could return. This i s 8/17/2011 and I just learned of her death. Please accept my deepest sympathies. Jettie June H Harris

(4) Anonymous, July 25, 2002 12:00 AM

Thank You

Thank you for sharing these wonderful stories that we never hear about. Please share more of these. We need to hear more about these stories of compassion and caring which I believe that G-d has placed within every human heart.

It is such a sad thing when Palestinian children are being brainwashed to hate Israeli's. War and hate are so unnatural for any human to have. Only serial killers enjoy murdering and torturing people. That is what I call homicide bombers. To me they are no better than serial killers. I have no sympathy for whatever cause they think they are fighting for when I read or hear of such senseless acts of murder against innocents. War is one thing, but these acts are cowardly. They think that they are so brave in giving their lives up by bombing innocent babies. I do not understand anyone who condones such a thing. In fact, I would venture to say that all those nations who support their cause would probably not want these killers living in their country.
We were made to love and care for one another by a caring and loving G-d. These acts are totally against our very human nature even if one does not believe in G-d.

That is why I often wondered if there were any Palestinians out there who truly wanted peace and who stood against leadership who only seem to hate Israel and the rest of the nonmuslim world. This Palestinian leadership considers it an honor to kill innocent people and teach their children that it is an honor to murder all people who do not believe as they do. Sometimes I wonder if honor is involved at all. Their leaders seem to care more about money and power than the welfare of their people.
I know that all Palestinians probably aren't hateful murderers, but that is not the impression I get when I see most of the Arab world supporting crimes against innocent people. I read that the Palestinians who convert to Christianity or who dissent agaist the current leadership are named as "collaboraters of Israel" and are tortured and killed by their own people. Something is seriously wrong here.

I am sorry for bringing up this issue, but this article made me wonder about the Palestinians who had these acts of compassion done for them by those Israeli soldiers. I remembered these words....."overcome evil with good". Perhaps it will create a spark that could spread like wildfire. That is why I am thrilled with reports like this. Please keep writing more of these. It provokes one to think that there is hope out there because of kindness and goodness in people.

I continue to pray for the peace of Jerusalem.

Thanks again.

(3) shoshana bryen, July 24, 2002 12:00 AM

Jewish music in summer camps, too

When I visited my daughter at a Jewish Federation summer camp, we had a family "rock concert" -- we sang Henei Ma Tov, Oseh Shalom, Al Shelosha Devarim, and other songs about peace, responsibility and Torah. I actually had the same thought as Pnina Isseroff about what values our music teaches our children, but then I had the corollary thought: The Palestians run "summer camps" too, which were chronicled in the New York Times and Baltimore Sun (Aug. 2000) in which they teach their children "jihad" and how to kill. I think their songs must be different as well, and that bodes ill for future generations.

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