LC and the Yom Kippur war , 1973

Ask and answer questions about Leonard Cohen, his work, this forum and the websites!
Einat
Posts: 103
Joined: Tue Aug 13, 2002 12:26 am
Location: Israel

LC and the Yom Kippur war , 1973

Post by Einat » Mon Dec 19, 2005 5:15 pm

For the Israeli soldiers annual memorial day (on May) , local artists were asked by NRG news site to write about their experience during times of war . Oshik Levi (singer) , wrote about his experience in Yom Kippur war (1973) , and about Leonard Cohen, who came to Israel when the war started . Here is a translation of most of what he had written:
“ The most horrible war was the Yom Kippur war , it was just awful. From day one, Saturday, I was performing.
It started out with an evening for the air force people and the day after I met Leonard Cohen in a café in Tel Aviv. I was just putting together an entertainment group with Pupik Arnon , Mati Caspi and Ilana Rovina and from the second evening we were performing with Leonard Cohen. It was in Hatzor and it was an amazing performance.
Leonard arrived to Israel as a Jew who wanted to work in a kibbutz and donate his share
And I dragged him to war. He said :” listen, my songs are sad” , and I said: “It is going to be ok”.
It was in an air force base, I got onstage and said we have a special guest: Leonard Cohen, and between the second and the third performance he wrote :”Lover, lover, lover”,
The third morning Pupik and I performed to paratroopers who afterwards boarded the planes heading towards Suetz ….at evening time they would return wounded and dead. When we were in an hospital in Said , there were not enough stretchers to carry the wounded.
During that period of time, that artists would just wander around and each was given a place to go to and you wouldn’t have a clue who is taking you where, only the officer that approaches you and says you have to come... .You would arrive to this hole in the darkness and you see 8 soldiers around a 175 mm cannon, and you are supposed to stand there and sing and entertain. In the middle of the song the officer would say :”hold on a second”. They would lift the cannon, charge it and shoot, and then you would go on with the performance , ect…
It was a terrible war and the sites were difficult to see. We performed about 8 times a day , day after day , sometimes 10 performances a day. It was physically and emotionally exhausting . We did that in hard conditions and we did the best we could.
Leonard Cohen proceeded with us for 3 months , day after day , 4-5 and sometimes 8 performances a day, and in every place we arrived at , he wanted to be drafted . at one time he wanted to be a paratrooper, at another time in the marines , and another time he wanted to be a pilot. We would sleep in sleeping bags on the floor because there was no room, and Leonard , who didn’t want to feel like a star , refused when I tried to arrange a place for him at the culture room.
It was emotionally and physically draining… during that horrible war there was a strong bond between the artists because we didn’t know who is against what”.
User avatar
peter danielsen
Posts: 919
Joined: Thu Jul 11, 2002 3:45 pm

Post by peter danielsen » Mon Dec 19, 2005 7:02 pm

Thanks for sharing this, I guess some people are able to stand by their bleeding brother and some prefer to Imagine that there is no war.

Peter
User avatar
margaret
Posts: 1855
Joined: Thu Nov 07, 2002 1:21 am
Location: UK

Post by margaret » Tue Dec 20, 2005 2:32 am

Thank you Einat for this.

I was aware of Leonard's short time in that war and his desire to enlist, but never read any detailed account such as this.

Margaret
User avatar
lizzytysh
Posts: 25395
Joined: Thu Jun 27, 2002 8:57 pm
Location: Florida, U.S.A.

Post by lizzytysh » Tue Dec 20, 2005 2:43 am

The details of this are so close to being there, and seeing Leonard's commitment close-up and for real. No question. This seems to be a rare account of a very limited and unique period in Leonard's life ~ intimate to the blood and bone of history. His actions and behaviour, from the kibbutz to the active participation to the sleeping on the floor with everyone else, are accounted as being exactly as I would have expected, from all other accounts of him in other situations. I will listen to "Lover, Lover, Lover" with a wholly different scenario in mind than I ever have. Thank you so much for bringing this here, Einat. Its details are just amazing.

~ Lizzy
User avatar
Boss
Posts: 1440
Joined: Mon May 16, 2005 1:56 pm
Location: Treblinka

Post by Boss » Tue Dec 20, 2005 3:51 am

I spent a little time on a kibbutz near Hazor in 1992-93. Of course there was no war then, only many soldiers and the sounds of Israeli jets breaking the sound barrier in the silent night sky. I slept in the 'volunteers' room on a hard bed. Everything seemed Spartan. I can't imagine how it was during the Yom Kippur war. I've been told it was very tough. Sometimes I just don't realise how lucky I have it. It was on this kibbutz I was introduced to 'The Future' and the rest is history.

Adam
User avatar
Nightstalker
Posts: 142
Joined: Wed Dec 07, 2005 5:31 pm
Location: rural NC USA

Post by Nightstalker » Tue Dec 20, 2005 5:53 pm

peter danielsen wrote:Thanks for sharing this, I guess some people are able to stand by their bleeding brother and some prefer to Imagine that there is no war.

Peter
I reply to this topic in the hope of enlightening those who never studied this period of time and do not understand the context of Leonard's experience there. I had little knowledge about his trip in 1973 and appreciate Einat (Mah nishma, aleichem?) for providing this wonderful account. To me Leonard's actions were very commendable. I will try to explain why he likely did this (and I may be wrong). My wife was raised in Eilat and even though only 10 at the time remembers this period rather well from an Israeli point of view as do many of our friends in the USA and Israel. Peter, sometimes 'imagining there is no war' makes one very dead and ends the existance of countries entirely, so it is not a viable option. I will explain in detail. However, imagine where you would be if the USA had just said, "NO!" to WWII and imagined peace? If you don't want a history lesson do not bother to read further.

I won't bother with pre 1967 because it would take too long and is endlessly debateable. What caused the Yom Kippur war?

Anwar Sadat had become Egypt's leader after Nasser died of a heart attack (many believe brought on by stresses related to losing the 1967 war and several other military embarrassments after that) and had vowed to lead the way in annihilating Israel in 1971. He did not do this because the Egyptian military had been virtually destroyed by Israel and was still rearming and the Soviets put pressure on him to be 'peaceful'. The USSR preferred that he continue sending raiding parties across the Suez and bombarding the Israeli defensive positions there constantly, since he nor any other Arab country at the time wished to make a real peace with Israel and were all still dedicated to destroying that new state, and in spite of UN mandated cease fire agreements. Israel was committed to trading land for peace but the Arab states would not accept this even as a proposition. Then Sadat threw the Soviets out! Mr Sadat was facing a hostile population due to a failing war effort with another Moslem country in Africa, Syria was looking upon him as a weak brother due to his unfulfilled boasts, and the pan-Arab movement was falling apart in general due to intranacine squabbling. He feared assasination as happened years later. He was compelled to do something or be deposed. The USA, the USSR and Israel were very concerned about this at the time within diplomatic circles but most of this went unrecognised by the world at large (and often still is).

Israeli citizens and American Jews were still riding the crest of the wave of 'invincibility' that followed the 1967 war. Israel had decimated three Arab armies (and elements of others) in 6 days and established itself as a regional power. But it was still in fact very vulnerable. Egypt began a war of attrition, there were border incidents everywhere and shellings, attacks from Lebanon which was early in the process of being de facto overtaken by Syria, the Egytians sank the destroyer Eilat with missiles from a Soviet supplied craft, Soviet pilots began flying combat missions in Egypt because they did not trust Egyptian pilots, etc. Each of these factors was dealt with tit for tat. The Green Island assault (where Israel destroyed a large Egyptian/USSR radar installation), an armored incursion into Egypt destroying much Soviet equipment, a raid into Lebanon to kill terrorists responsible for the killing of Israeli athletes at the Olympics, the Israeli air force, after months of holding fire, engaged and shot down 5 Egyptian planes piloted by Soviet pilots -- to the great embarrassment of the USSR -- without losing one aircraft, etc. All this and more, while France refused to send promised and paid for resupplies (resulting in, for instance, Israel completeing its already paid contract by 'liberating' 5 missile patrol boats from Cherborgh), the USA slowed shipments of all aircraft and resupply and the UK with the rest of the world stood idly by watching the ineffective UN report the almost daily cease fire violations. Yet, Israel rejoiced and spirits were high. The small interior seemed safe. For May of 1973 there was a large military parade in Jerusalem and much 'hoorah' in spite of the fact that there was a secret staff alert because Syria and Egypt were conducting massive manueveres that looked like a build up for envasion. When this did not eventuate on Independance Day, even the top levels of Israel's defense relaxed. Tourists and preformers poured in to celebrate and to make aliyah to their new 'safe' homeland. This was the attitude in summer of 1973. The Yom Kippur war was not forseen until Syria and Egypt attacked this small country on the most holy day of the year. It was almost Israel's end! Many people found themselves -- I dare guess Mr Cohen among them -- in the midst of something they had not believed would happen. My mother-in-law, secretary became the manager of the Marine Research Station south of Eilat because all the scientists were called up. All other professions were likewise called to arms -- most able bodied people in the entire country began a renewwd fight for survival. And Leonard, along with many others who found themselves virtually stranded there did everything they could to help their countrymen. I knew nothing of Mr Cohen's experience, but after reading this account I am as proud of him as I am enthralled by his music. As one veteran to another I thank him for this.

Israel prevailed and finally Egypt and Jordan, beaten into submission, traded peace for land. Oh, there are still many problems, many doubts, but maybe there is hope. Maybe we and the world can 'imagine peace'. I personally pray for peace daily, wish and imagine it fervently. As a combat veteran I hate war with all my fiber and my mind wretches over the blood of my fellow man that I spilled. May you and all others be spared this experience. May mankind turn from war that creates homo sapiens horribilus and do more than imagine peace. Let there be peace! Selah! Shalom!

[/i]
"For the captain had quitted the long drawn strife
And in far Simoree had taken a wife." (R Kipling)
Einat
Posts: 103
Joined: Tue Aug 13, 2002 12:26 am
Location: Israel

Post by Einat » Tue Dec 20, 2005 6:48 pm

Thanks for your responses and you are welcome :-)
Adam- Sorry to hear you had to live in such spartan conditions ..There must be better conditions in other Kibbutzim!
bee
Posts: 918
Joined: Thu Apr 08, 2004 6:28 am
Location: San Francisco, USA
Contact:

Post by bee » Tue Dec 20, 2005 8:27 pm

Nightstalker- great post, thank you! :D
bee
User avatar
Boss
Posts: 1440
Joined: Mon May 16, 2005 1:56 pm
Location: Treblinka

Post by Boss » Wed Dec 21, 2005 2:27 pm

Dear Einat,

When I wrote that everything seemed so spartan I meant everything seemed so 'raw'. The kibbutz was Gadot. I was not used to the lifestyle coming directly from my double bed, girlfriend and relative safety of Melbourne. Don't get me wrong, Israel is a precious place - a place of history, tradition and culture. The sense of G-d is palpable. One cold night I remember praying to Him all night. The moon was full, I kept my bearings. Kinneret is beautiful. I didn't get the chance to visit the southern parts, but did manage a week in Haifa.

Gadot was different for someone like me being used to a cosy little job and home; that is all I was trying to say. Have a good new year Einat

Lehitraot

Adam
Einat
Posts: 103
Joined: Tue Aug 13, 2002 12:26 am
Location: Israel

Post by Einat » Wed Dec 21, 2005 6:27 pm

Adam Shalom,
It sounds like you had a unique experience!
I don't think you missed much by not going to the south , unless you are really keen about the desert.

Btw , I think O. Levi meant they stayed at Hatzor - the air force base , not Kibbutz Hatzor.

Happy new year to you too and to everyone else...
Steven
Posts: 2140
Joined: Tue May 03, 2005 12:32 am

Re: LC and the Yom Kippur war , 1973

Post by Steven » Sat Dec 24, 2005 7:41 am

Einat,

Thank you for posting this. In various ways this account reminds me
of another artist/performer I admired, the late Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach.
Shlomo was quite real, as is Leonard. They were both brave
in staying with the troops -- sharing their music and words.
They also shared a similar quality of bravery in their artistry and
words, not shirking from accepting and working with
difficult emotions.
Einat
Posts: 103
Joined: Tue Aug 13, 2002 12:26 am
Location: Israel

Post by Einat » Sat Dec 24, 2005 5:23 pm

Carlebach? Wasn’t he the “Dancing Rabbi”? A very talented composer , good to know he was too , so was Danny Kaye. Oysh , I wish I had existed back then to see.
I hope it wont take another war to bring Cohen back here to perform . I hope he will include us in his tour this time , and I know I’m not the only one who is hoping . No worries , this time he wont have to bring his sleeping bag :P .
Steven
Posts: 2140
Joined: Tue May 03, 2005 12:32 am

Post by Steven » Sat Dec 24, 2005 9:39 pm

Einat,

Actually, he was the "Singing Rabbi." Some of those that attended
his concerts and gatherings, though, did (and still do) dance
with joyful and exuberant celebration to the happy songs.

Chag Someach, everyone. (Hebrew for Happy Holiday.)
Shalom, too. (Peace.)
User avatar
phillip
Posts: 415
Joined: Sun Apr 17, 2005 11:49 am
Location: warrington uk

Re: LC and the Yom Kippur war , 1973

Post by phillip » Sat Apr 07, 2012 3:21 pm

Thanks for sharing I really enjoyed reading this
I have been a Leonard Cohen fan for 28 years feel free to email me if you wish to keep in touch!
seadove
Posts: 2084
Joined: Mon Jun 22, 2009 10:06 am
Location: Israel
Contact:

Re: LC and the Yom Kippur war , 1973

Post by seadove » Tue Apr 17, 2012 10:58 am

During the Yom Kipur war I was stationed about 10 KM before the Suez Canal. I was in an artillary unit and there were quite a few entertainers coming in all the time.

At that time I was aware that Leonard Cohen was in Israel for a brief space of time but I never met him at all under these conditions.

But I went to see his performance in 1972, about a year before the war.
Post Reply

Return to “Comments & Questions”