Eurovision Another Youtube posting updated for my course

In my Modern Middle East course, I have been re-posting collections of youtubes prepared mostly for previous versions of the course. This one was first prepared in March 2009. I’ve tried to update all the links.–SW

Today’s Youtubes sheet includes the late Uzi Hitman’s piece Ani noladti lashalom, “I was born for Peace” written to celebrate Israeli peace with Egypt in 1979. I wrote this page in March 2009 to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty. 1979 was an important year; there were a lot of youtubes we looked at from 30 years before.
(Uzi Hitman was an Israeli singer who was active in children’s TV and many other venues–like Ofra Haza–who died tragically young, a heart attack).
Here are the Lyrics . I cannot find a video with subtitles so look at this page to understand the words.
Here is Uzi Hitman singing it. Note that the final paragraph is sung in Arabic. I do not have a date for this performance.  –
This was the performance in the Israel Song Festival in 1979. I think you will find the Eurovision performance by a female sextet to be dated—and corny.

A performance in English:

Several Song Festivals, including this one, were set up so that people voted for the top song, in the hall and in special locations around the country, with the winner going on to the Eurovision contest. (For the Eurovision Contest, see: )
Eurovision–like soccer–is one of those things that is watched throughout the world with enormous audiences, just not in the U.S.A.

Ani noladti lashalom, “I was born for Peace” did not win the Israel Song festival that year. Halleluyah Laolam “Halleluyah for the World” did, and it went on to win the Eurovision. English

Israel and Eurovision: Israel won the Eurovision three times, with the 1998 win (Song: “Diva”)

(this has English subtitles) the most controversial.
(You should look it up, and look up the singer. Let us know what you find–you might find the history fascinating. Or not.) This singer’s otherwise best known hit is probably the mostly Arabic “I am not Saida Sultana”

based loosely on Whitney Houston’s “My Name is not Susan”–and is a crossover piece in many ways! “Saida Sultana” apparently played really well in Egypt. (There are usually a few words of English in most performances of this piece–and sorry, I cannot find the lyrics on line, not in Arabic, Hebrew or English). And this singer was invited to perform at a gala retrospective of past Eurovision hits.

Egypt and Jordan used to black out the Israeli contribution to Eurovision and perhaps they still do despite the peace treaties–I do not know.

Israel was runner up twice in 1982-1983–Avi Toledano and the late Ofra Haza were the singers.

The Eurovision may well be watched by more people than the Oscars, certainly it has an enormous worldwide following even though it is virtually unknown in America.
The May, 2009 Eurovision was in Moscow. The entry for Israel was sung by an Israeli Jewish singer Noa (Ahinoam Nini) and Mira Awad, an Israeli Arab singer and TV star. Their entry was in Arabic, Hebrew and English: Words:

Performance with English subtitles (and transliteration): (taken down).
Norway won in 2009.

2010: Israel’s Eurovision entry was a solo piece called Milim “words”. The 2011-12-13- and 14 entries failed to qualify.

Arab Labor: Mira Awad (who sang in the Israeli 2009 Eurovision entry) is a star in the Israeli TV show “Arab Labor” by the way, which is a tremendous hit and very important show focusing on Israeli Arabs, written and performed about 70% in Arabic by Israeli Arabs. This should probably is probably be a topic for its own YouTube/Video presentation but here are trailer, sample, and essay:
Trailer: Sample episode:
Essay about the series:

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You Tubes: the declaration of the State of Israel. From a section on youtubes for my course

You Tubes: the declaration of the State of Israel
Newsreel from May 14 1948.

clip of Ben Gurion announcing the state of Israel—with English. No video.

this has subtitles but seems to cut off –towards the end of the reading of the Proclamation.

Cast a Giant Shadow — a Hollywood reenactment.

How many movie stars can you identify? [this youtube appears to be taken down. The whole movie is available online though. SO fr I have only found the very last piece of the clip I wanted to show here.

cgs4.htmView in a new window

[this clip does not have great quality (I had to make the display smaller than usual to see it in sufficient clarity)-if you can find the same thing in better resolution please advise!].

The portion I most suggest seeing is minute 2:44 through 8:00.

If the preceding does not work: try this instead:

(I think I know why this doesn’t work also, but have not been able to solve it completely).

Here is the link to a Hulu version–the scenes I had in mind begin around minute 80 (1:20). Sorry about the ads.

There are a few historical inaccuracies: Ben Gurion read the Declaration, which did not include most of the speech given in the film, but did include a version of the last line of the speech, although this was in the middle of the Declaration, not at its end. And no telegram was read out as was done in the film.

The Cast a Giant Shadow actors assembled on the stage bear an almost uncanny resemblance to the actual people who were there–although it is strange that one of the most well-known persons present at the Proclamation is not represented at all–a woman who lived for a time in Milwaukee and Denver, and had visited the US frequently on behalf of the Jews of Palestine. Who is it?

You can judge how accurately Hollywood portrayed the English translation. The actors clearly do not know the words of HaTikvah (the Hymn of the Zionist movement), (which would not have been the case among the actual people at the Tel Aviv Museum that afternoon of course).

At least one of the actors should have been able to sing it–would have been a nice touch. Who? (Hint: this actor–who did not have a singing role in the film–was known for his singing as well as his acting. He also supported Israel, donated a building at Hebrew University and supported other Jerusalem projects, and is said to have played a small role in the actual funding the provision of armaments depicted in the film).

The orchestra assembled for the event reflects history: the organizers of the event made sure to have an orchestra there; it may even have been larger than the one put together for the film. And the dancing the evening after the proclamation is probably as historic a reenactment as you can find–there was dancing on May 14 and on Nov. 29. The movie’s composer, Elmer Bernstein, hired the Zemel Chorus of London to do the vocals. Bernstein composed most of the vocals, even the ones that sound like authentic Israeli songs from the era. But– not only Hatikvah but the music playing over the dance just following were authentic. (a version of a Russian folksong popular in Israel). The clip is supposed to stop a few seconds after the dancing scene, but I am not sure it will in all browsers.

A few days after the partition resolution of Nov. 29 1947:

- not sure that the narration is all original newsreel.

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Some thoughts on the proclamation of a Universal Caliphate today (June 29 2014)

It’s hard to say whether the announcement early today will be remembered as a key stage in the disintegration of the post World War I (!) Middle East. The Dawla Islamiyya fi al-Iraq wal-Sham (Islamic State in Iraq and Levant, often abbreviated ISIL or ISIS (the second S in ISIS stands for Syria or Sham) announced the restoration of the Caliphate. Specifically, the speech that they released indicated that a Caliphate was normative in Islam, and that the situation was such that it had to be declared. They declared Abu Bakr Ibrahim Awwad Ibrahim al-Qurashi al-Baghdadi as the Caliph.

Traditionally the Caliph has to be a member of the Prophet Muhammad’s tribe – and he is said to be that –indeed, he is said to be a “Huseini”—a descendant of the Prophet’s grandson Hussein. 

The group now is known as “The Islamic State” or “the State of the Islamic Caliphate” and talks about the need for all Muslims everywhere to swear allegiance (Arabic: Bay’a) to them, of collecting the jizyah from non-Muslims and the Zakat from Muslims, and other traditional Islamic rights and privileges.

Much has been made of the timing of this announcement: 100 (Western) years after the beginning of World War I; the Ottoman Empire came to an end largely as a result of the outcome of WWI; Mustafa Kemal Ataturk cancelled the Caliphate as part of the modernizations he imposed; sometime after he had already cancelled the Ottoman Sultanate (i.e., a member of the Ottoman family held the at-that-time symbolic title of Caliph even after Ataturk had abolished their rule). Perhaps more important, the announcement came on the first day of Ramadan, the Islamic month of fasting and spirituality.

There are a number of maps of the current situation: if the”Islamic State” is taken as a state with geographical borders, it controls much of eastern Syria and northern Iraq. The group has proven its attractiveness to some potential fighters—there are reports of massive desertion from the Iraqi army to join them—and a reputation for brutality to those who oppose them; perhaps fear of what could happen under “Islamic State” control plays as large or even a larger role than Sunni dissatisfaction with the current state of Shia control in Iraq in compromising the ability of the Iraqi military to defend against their expansion. Al-Sham (The Levant in ISIL) refers to a far larger area than modern Syria; in classic Arabic sources, al-Sham stretched south to Gaza—i.e., the ISIL nomenclature could easily be understood to include a claim not only on Syria but also Lebanon, Jordan, Palestinian Authority and Israel. And as of the newest announcement, they have dropped the reference to Iraq and the Levant, and asserted their claim to universal loyalty of Muslims.

As noted, there are various maps of their current geographic holdings. It does not seem that there are substantial forces organized against them; if they in fact hold the land they have won and perhaps make additional inroads in likely areas, it’s hard to imagine Iraq as a viable country: it will cease to exist, possibly with the Shia majority areas in the South holding on to the Iraq name, (in classic times, Iraq referred only to this area anyway), and a separate country of Kurdistan emerging in Kurdish areas—I do not see the Islamic State as successfully conquering these areas. Guessing the future in Syria is more difficult; it depends in part on whether and how long the Asad regime retains any strength. It is hard to imagine that the Islamic State will remain satisfied with its current holdings in these areas. Jordan, with its massive refugee problem and a King who is a descendant of another individual who claimed the Caliphate, Sharif Hussein of Mecca—who proclaimed himself Caliph after the Ottoman Caliphate was abolished in March of 1924 but was forced out of Mecca by Saudi forces within the year.  It’s less clear to me that this group will seek to extend its control—in the near term– after Lebanon and Israel and areas of Syria that are not largely Sunni.  Of course, their stated plan is to seek universal Caliphal hegemony; the text of the statement reminded the world that within 25 years of the establishment of the first Islamic state, it had defeated both massive empires of that time—the Byzantines and the Persians.

By the way, the Caliphate had been a completely symbolic role since Abbasid times—very few caliphs of the Abbasid dynasty exercised any real power from the 10th century onwards (The Abbasids were in Baghdad from the eighth through 13th centuries, and had a symbolic presence in Mamluk Egypt until 1517). In the nineteenth century, there was a growth of interest in reasserting Caliphal authority, especially in India and in some Ottoman circles; after the events of 1924 in Turkey and in the Hijaz, there was increasing thought about restoring the Caliphate. Mohandas Gandhi was even on a Caliphate committee, and there was a conference in Egypt on the subject. Although there has been much talk, and a few leaders who claimed some of the titles usually reserved to the Caliph, there were few or none who were prepared to actually assert full caliphal authority. Until today.

The full text of the pronouncement is available in English in a number of locations, for example –this website also has a few of the previous announcements of the ISIL available in translation.

It’s worth reading in full, rather than just relying on journalistic summaries of the main points.

Some of the previous announcements whose texts are on this blog:

This blog has a link to the map showing the new frontiers within the Arab world, based on the IS pronouncement: — the map is a link from 

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On the disinvitation of Ayan Hirsi Ali at Brandeis

I wrote this comment in response to a posting by Don Ellis on his blog, about the dis-invitation of Ayan Hirsi Ali to speak at Brandeis’ graduation, and present it here with nearly no editing.

I have assigned her book in an introductory Islam course, and then did not in large part because of reasoning similar to something Klein HaLevi said in an opinion piece written together with Abdullah Antepli that has been widely circulated, supporting the disinvitation , Although not the comment that is so widely quoted: Her approach to Islam is her own and not broadly representative of mainstream approaches to Islam by people born into Islam. Of course, that is why her opinions matter! 

What’s more, although there are a lot of Muslim-Jewish interactions, the collaboration of Klein Halevi and Antepli can be seen by some as not so very indicative of the broad mainstream either, and certainly reflect the realities in some segments of Israel and the USA, but rejected in many other areas.

My own reactions to the dis-invitation issue were shaped in part by dis-invitations and a presidential caving to various interests on my university campus. Klein Halevi and Antepli were right about the dis-invitation being a learning experience: I am not sure this is anything at all what he met, but the learning experience should be that Brandeis has the resources to properly vet any speaker they plan for commencement. Once having made a decision to invite her, the Brandeis administration should have been able to stand by this choice. The learning experience: don’t invite someone you will have to dis-invite, and stick by your choice or look foolish.

I am also wary of CAIR, Council for American Islamic Relations, which protested vociferously–but after all, that is what they do: protest any speaker seen as negative to Islam. With all due respect, this is something like some Jewish responses to anyone perceived as being even slightly anti-Israel or anti-Semitic. The situation at Brandeis suggests that they are much more powerful than the “Zionist lobby” that they might object to, which could not get speakers dis-invited.

HIrsi Ali is an important voice, and many of her controversial opinions about Islam are voiced by Muslims as well–many Muslims emphasize readiness for death over life, or the subservience of women or of women’s honor, and other things to which she objects–and do so saying that these are Islamic teachings.

The saddest thing about this is that there are strong Muslim voices who criticize the same things Hirsi Ali has criticized, and argue strongly for Human Rights in terms recognizable to the international community–but they are often also marginalized as well. Hirsi Ali has been more effective in her work.

I think the dis-invitation has created a great deal of interesting discussion.

But Brandeis should have vetted the speaker well enough to be able to stand up to and argue effectively against any campaign by CAIR, or not invited her in the first place. The dis-invitation has robbed Brandeis graduates of an historic opportunity to interact with a unique and important writer, thinker and activist.


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Passover Links and Youtubes

This is a copy of – a page I posted at UW several years ago. Most of the links still work.


Happy Passover

חג כשר ושמח

From Seth Ward




From my teaching: A note about Moses

Moses in the Passover story.

Based on the prominence of Moses in the movie retelling of the Exodus, it is perhaps surprising that the ritual and liturgical retelling of the Exodus gives him almost no role at all. Moses is mentioned only once in the traditional Haggadah, the order of prayers, psalms, and ritual foods for Passover eve, in the context of recalling the “Song of the Sea.”

This is not particularly surprising, as Moses does not play a large role in the daily, Sabbath or festival liturgy. On a daily basis, the prayer book recalls that Moses and the children of Israelrecited the Song of the Sea. On the Sabbath, the evening Amida service recalls Creation, with no reference to Moses, but the morning Amida service recalls revelation, with Moses depicted as rejoicing that he was called a “faithful servant” and through his agency, the Two Tablets of the Decalogue were given, with their command concerning the Sabbath. (Interestingly, this passage introduces a selection from Exodus 31 about observing the Sabbath, not the passage on the Sabbath from the Ten Commandments). All in all, the ritual and liturgy emphasize divine revelation and redemption, not Moses’ role.

Contrast this, of course, with the depiction of Moses in all the movies and bible stories. Paul Flesher suggests one possible reason why: Moses’ role is the archetypical figure for Protestant America, basing law on revelation—but revelation of the heart—and foreshadowing both the Christian savior and the American enterprise of freedom. (Flesher’s point is not less valid even though some of the motifs he points to are mirrored in Midrashic texts glorying in the miraculous birth and career of Moses; these may themselves be responding to Christian themes, or themselves be the models on which those themes are based.)

One could say, too, that Moses’ role in the Biblical books of Exodus through Deuteronomy is greater than that in the Jewish ritual. Nevertheless, these books are not simply narrative or celebration of Moses’ role in the escape from slavery, and leading the way to the Promised Land. All have very lengthy descriptions of building the Tabernacle, ritual worship, social legislation, and religious exhortations that usually do not play a role in the American retelling of the story. A typical explanation of why Moses is downplayed in the Haggadah is to emphasize the divine role in the Exodus. Passover is not about human leadership but about divine intervention—and about the redefinition of a tribe knit together primarily by memories of common ancestors,  into a coherent people. Freedom from slavery is only the starting point. While, to paraphrase the haggadah, it “would have been enough for us” simply to leave Egypt, that was not enough for the divine purpose: the journey necessarily led to definition of social and religious values, a way of worship and a way of life, and a way forward to the fulfillment of the national promise and purpose.  Hag kasher vesameah.




Passover Links and Texts.



Among the more compelling arguments: You may find the Projecting Freedom website quite useful in exploring the holiday.


MISHNA Chapter 10 of tractate Pesachim – this chapter is the basic guide to the Seder.

My discussion of the Seder Plate

Text of my brochure on Passover


Full text of the Haggadah—with transliteration! - look at the bottom of this page for a link to the Haggadah! (other links are to the full text of the Siddur).

Passover Tunes (with sheet music)—free access


A historic Performance of Israel in Egpyt by G.F. Händel. The recording was made by the Jerusalem Symphony with a choir from Edinburgh. The setting: the Red Sea (Gulf of Eilat) overlooking Jazirat Far’un “Pharoah’s Island” – or Coral Island, as it was called by the Israelis. It is about ten minutes’ drive south of the current border. The castle on the Island was built by Saladin. The full oratorio includes a setting of the complete Song of the Sea (Ex. 15).


For fun.


Who was responsible for the Exodus?

The fundamental question in Exodus narrative, and in the Passover Seder, is “Who precisely was responsible for letting the Israelites out of Egypt?”  The Haggadah’s answer is unambiguous, restated in different ways over and over. The video poses this question, but does not really reply to it.

Deliver Us—song by Ofra Haza in Prince of Egypt  Ofra Haza recorded this in multiple languages, so that every release would have it in the language, sung by her, not dubbed.


We may not know much about Moses, but we know how he would have done the Exodus if he had had facebook!

The same in English:


All you really need to know about the importance, taste, and ramifications of eating Matzah:  Projecting Freedom project. This is a Matza Music Video for “Motzi Matzah.”  Michele Citrin (“Rosh Hashana Girl”)

The Passover Seder:

The Singing Seder Plate: scroll down on the radio on the right side of Menorah’s little seder: .

The recording is from the 60s I think. Stanley Sperber (founder of Zamir Chorale) is conducting the Camp Massad choir, precursor to the Zamir. The original is usually called the “Orchestra Song” and apparently is by Willy Geisler. Here is a version from Hollywood: (For Hebrew readers interested in this song:

60 Second Seder (Hebrew)

Arab Labor: hit Israeli TV show. This is most of the Passover episode, and has a sendup of almost every group within Israeli society: Haredim, Israeli Arabs, Secular Jews, Reform Judaism, “traditional” Jews (in this context, neither religious nor secular); the Reform Jewish woman is depicted in very “Beautiful-People-Leftist” terms as being something like a “flower child” in her approach.

When do we eat?

Songs in English (parody texts):

There are quite a few of these. Here is one:  Sample: “haggada wash that man right out of my hair” and “afikomen round the mountain”

A large number of these and quite a few jokes: (and a program that appears to download a “sense of humor” to your computer!)

Songs from the end of the Seder: Who knows one—The “Glick/Tasky girls” same—Sydney and Andrew.

Moishe Oysher’s most famous Passover performance piece

Chad Gadya—a Jewish/Arab choir from Jaffa, singing Chad Gadya in Aramaic, Hebrew and Arabic, with an extra verse by Chava Alberstein:

Other materials:



Write me with your suggestions!


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Famous Seth Wards of the World

I was sent a note about this book, with the following description

Pirate Treasure (The Kansas Pirates Saga, book one)

By Kotar Gessler
Series: Kansas Pirates Saga, Book 1. Price: $4.99 USD. Words: 102,380. Language: English. Published: January 29, 2014 by Tirgearr Publishing. Category: Fiction » Romance » HistoricalThe townspeople of Lawrence, Kansas, want nothing to do with widower Seth Ward or his two children. Barbara Nelander answers a help-wanted ad and finds herself living in the shadow of a dead woman and the haunting of her son. Nelander transforms the Ward home into a figurative pirate ship and uses her wiles to bring peace to the family. The harsh Kansas summer threatens all they fight to preserve.

I’ll recommend this book to anyone who wants to understand me better!

And maybe my wife will ask me to see if we can get a cut of the royalties.

I am, nevertheless prouder of Seth Ward, Bishop of Salisbury (d. 1689), who was among other things a Hebraist along the lines of people like Selden and Milton and others of his time.

There was also the Methodist Bishop (d. 1909) from Texas, after whom a college in the Texas panhandle was named; the college folded but the area near Plainvew, Texas is still known as Seth Ward, TX 79072. Apparently some people considered Jimmy Dean’s original name or one of the names he used to be Seth Ward, after the town. In my office, I have a photo of the Seth Ward Baptist Church.

Occasionally I am asked about Seth Edmund Ward (1820-1903), who, among other things may have been, together with a business partner, the first rancher in Wyoming. He was from Indiana and active in the Fort Laramie area, although he later moved to Kansas City. A shout-out to Margaret Grant, of the Glenrock, WY branch of the Converse County Library, who wrote me to tell me that in the Annals of Wyoming, Vol. 5, 1927-29, the first article, from July, 1927, is entitled, “Seth Ward.”

The most famous other Seth Ward was involved in the Whitewater scandal.

Then there was the Seth Ward who was an undergraduate at Yale when I was a grad student, whose credit problems occasionally made problems for me, and whose future mother in law called my number instead of his and was surprised when Carol identified herself as my wife.

Facebook reports over 100 hits for “Seth Ward.”

Not sure about other fictional Seth Wards though–the Pirate Treasure book has the first fictional Seth Ward of whom I am aware.

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On the “new” wording of Ha-Tikvah

I have always wondered how the current wording of Hatikvah came about. The wording of Ha-Tikvah as it is sung today (and as officially adopted as the National Anthem of the State of Israel) concludes with “Ha-Tikvah bat shnot alpayim…,” whereas the “original” wording was “Ha-Tikvah ha-noshana….” The “old wording” was sung for many decades, especially outside of Palestine.

It’s common enough to assume that the wording was changed when Israel became a State and adopted Ha-Tikvah as the National Anthem. But in fact the “new” wording is much older, and the official adoption did not occur until 2004.

Naftali Hertz Imber (1856-1909) wrote the original poem in the 1870s, which he called “Tikvatenu.” Imber later traveled throughout Palestine 1882-1887, and made some changes to the poem during this time.

Imber’s visit to Rishon Le-Tzion was particularly important. The poem made a great impression there, and Shmuel Cohen (1870-1940) set the poem to music, more or less in the form we know it today.

The text apparently also received some edits in Rishon Le-Tzion. According to the Wikipedia article in Hebrew about Hatikvah, David Judelovitch (1863-1943) recalled in his memoires that he edited the poem, together with Yisrael Belkin and Mordechai Lubman Haviv, when Imber was in Rishon LeTziyon, and that Imber approved the edits. (viewed Feb 26 2014). The Hebrew Wikipedia text makes it appear that Judelovitch and his friends were in fact responsible for the “new” words. This reference to the “new” words is most likely an editing mistake. There is no reference to editing Ha-Tikvah in the Hebrew Wikipedia article on Yudelovitch. It does not appear to have any further details about the adoption of the “new” wording, and nowhere else did I find a reference to Yudelovitch and associates creating the words we use today. It seems most likely that the Wikipedia editing removed or corrupted a reference to the educator who produced the wording used today, and that the edits made by Yudelovich et al. were very minor, and may have concerned better fitting the original wording to the melody Shmuel Cohen used.

The English Wikipedia says “The text was later revised by the settlers of Rishon LeZion, subsequently undergoing a number of other changes” and seems to imply this was after 1897. (Yudelovitch’s memoire about the Hebrew school in Rishon Le-Tziyon was published in Yaari’s Zikhronot EretzYisrael 1:42, but I have not been able to check this to see if the story is found there.)

The more usual credit for the new words is to Yehudah Leib Mettman-Cohen (1869-1939), who later Hebraicized his family name to Matmon-Cohen. Mettman-Cohen was one of the founders of Ahuzat Bayit, which soon changed its name to Tel-Aviv, and was one of the pioneers of Hebrew-language education in Israel. He became Principal of an elementary school in Rishon le-Tziyon in 1904, but left and opened a school in Jaffa in 1905; this school formed the basis of the Gymnasium Hertzliyah that stood in the center of Tel Aviv. According to Eliyahu Cohen, in 1905 he changed the last three lines of the poem to the words we know today, with the exception of “bat” (in “ha-tikvah bat alpayim”) which was added to the choral arrangement done by Hanina Krachevsky in early British Mandate times. (Article is in Hebrew). . I have not been able to determine whether Mettman-Cohen made the changes while still in Rishon or as part of his activities in the new school in Jaffa.

None of the articles I looked at discussed the degree to which the “new” words were disseminated in the Zionist movement or in the Land of Israel, but the version sung in Gymnasum Hertzliyah in Tel Aviv would easily have engendered broad dissemination throughout Palestine.

The Wikipedia article on Matmon-Cohen states simply that “most of the words of the second stanza of Ha-Tikvah are ascribed” to him.

Of course the hymn had already been sung with the “old” words in the Zionist Congress in 1897, and the “old” words continued to be sung widely for decades. But it seems that Mettman-Cohen should be credited with nine of the twenty eight words of what is now the official text, about 1/3 of the total.

Seth Ward

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