If it were up to Israeli songwriter Yosi Gispan, more of his songs would be stolen by Hamas.
Gispan is the lyricist behind the famed song “Mi Shema’amin,” sung by Israeli pop star Eyal Golan. The record is wildly popular throughout Israeli society, amongst both secular and religious crowds. “Mi Shema’amin,” however, has recently remixed, becoming the melodic narrative onto which Hamas has written its latest propaganda video, “Uproot the Zionists.”
Let’s begin with the lyrics. The chorus of “Mi Shema’amin,” meaning “He who believes,” proclaims: He who believes is not afraid of losing hope / because we have the King of the Universe and he protects us from everyone. Hamas, meanwhile, changed the lyrics to other Hebrew words: We are the soldiers of God, sent to eliminate the Zionists / we will speak to them in the language of fire, swords, and missiles. (Ynet published the full lyrics to Hamas’ new version of the song here.)
In Gispan’s version, Golan sings: This nation is a family / Time and time again that is the secret to our success / The nation of Israel will not give up / We will remain on the map. In Hamas version, that stanza reads: The Zionists are soldiers / We’ll surprise them / And startle them / Until the last one of them disappears. The accompanying music video contains a slew of violent images and clips of Hamas terror attacks on Israeli citizens.
In an interview with Israeli Military Radio (Galgalatz) Gispan said: “Listen, I [Hamas] are familiar with Israeli culture. The distance between us is small … It’s sad, they live amongst us, and want to destroy us.” Since the video was released last week, Gispan has submitted a complaint to YouTube for the video should be removed because, he argues, it disobeys a whole slew of YouTube Community Guidelines, including copyright rules. (As one might imagine, Hamas didn’t think to ask for proper song rights.) As of this publishing, Hamas new propaganda video is not apparently available on YouTube.
Gispan said he takes the video lightly and would rather Hamas use all his songs, if it would mean they focused more on singing rather than terror against Israelis. When the interviewer asked, “But with the [song’s] original words, you’re saying?”
“No, I have no problem with them singing what they want,” replied Gispan, “but they should sing, and stop murdering, and stop throwing rocks.”
Hamas’ newest propaganda music video has further cultural context, as it follows a video released last summer by Hamas during Operation Protective Edge. That song, called “Up, Do Terror Attacks!” features equally disturbing lyrics, but in an unexpected twist, the tune was so catchy that it became an instant sensation among Israelis while becoming a subject of great ridicule and fun: Native Hebrew speakers mocked Hamas’ mispronunciation of Hebrew words. The song was played on the radio, and countless spoofs were uploaded to YouTube.
Hamas’ latest release is less likely to pick up as much attention as its 2014 counterpart, primarily because the tune is already popular in Israel. But the reactions to both videos demonstrates a profound element of contemporary Israeli culture: the ability to satirize fear. And in a positive turn of events for Gispan and Golan, their famed tune doesn’t seem to have been ruined by Hamas. On Sunday night, Gispan shared a video on Facebook of Golan singing his song to thousands of Israelis at a concert in Caesarea. The crowd went wild.
Gispan’s caption? “Eyal Golan answers to terror.”
Rikki Novetsky is TK BIO.