Miri Aloni & the IDF Nachal Band: A Song for Peace

Written by Yaakov Rotblit and composed by Yair Rosenblum, this controversial song was first performed by the IDF Nachal Infantry Ensemble in 1969, during the War of Attrition between Israel and Egypt. The lyrics, translated on screen and below, express a yearning for peace, mourn fallen soldiers, and criticize the glorification of war and culture of bereavement that are prevalent in Israeli society, calling on people to instead sing for love and act for peace.

The song was particularly threatening to the IDF. As it was intended for a military band, the line “Sing a song for love, and not for wars,” was changed from the original “Sing a song for love, and not for victories” by the head of the IDF education department, as to not bring down the morale of the troops. Released during a period of hyper-nationalism and military enthusiasm following the Six Day War, many criticized the song as defeatist, including the head of both the the IDF’s Central and Southern Commands, who banned the ensemble from appearing in their zones in 1969. 

Many, however, appreciated the message of peace, especially those who supported Yitzhak Rabin, Chief of Staff during the Six Day War, who spoke publicly about the great loss of both Israeli and enemy troops during the war. Occasionally sung in Arabic as well, the song became the unofficial anthem of the Peace Now movement, and the rights were purchased by the left-wing Meretz party for use in the 1996 election campaign. 

Most famously, at the end of a peace rally on November 4, 1995, Israeli musicians, together with Shimon Peres and Yizhak Rabin, led the crowd in singing “A Song for Peace.” Rabin was assassinated immediately following the rally, and the blood-strained lyrics were found in his shirt pocket. The song has since been closely associated with Rabin and the peace movement, sung regularly at memorial ceremonies and peace rallies. 

A Song for Peace

Let the sun rise
And give the morning light,
The purest prayer
Will not bring us back.

He whose candle was snuffed out
And was buried in the dust,
A bitter cry won’t wake him
Won’t bring him back.

Nobody will return us
From the dead dark pit,
Here – neither the victory cheer
Nor songs of praise will help.

Refrain:
So – sing only a song for peace,
Do not whisper a prayer.
Better sing a song for peace
With a big shout.

Let the sun penetrate
Through the flowers,
Don’t look backward
Leave those who departed.

Lift your eyes with hope,
Not through the rifle sights.
Sing a song for love,
And not for wars.

Don’t say the day will come,
Bring the day because it is not a dream,
And within all the city’s squares,
Cheer only peace.

Refrain:
So – sing only a song for peace,
Do not whisper a prayer.
Better sing a song for peace,
With a big shout.

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