309: Gali Atari, ‘Ein Li Eretz Aheret’ (‘I Have No Other Land’)

Photo: Haim Goldberg

Gali Atari

Gali Atari video with translation

Israeli Artists singing in background, candid videos of the Israeli street, 3 days after the pogrom

Gali Atari at anti-judicial reform demonstration several months ago

Noa Kirel

I am Israeli, and my heart is broken.

Israel is a family. We have all been traumatized by the unspeakable terrorist atrocities. Everyone knows someone who was killed or wounded or taken hostage. The entire nation’s heart is broken.

Photo: Alexi J. Rosenfeld

But we shall not only survive, we shall prevail. Because we have no alternative. We have nowhere to run to.

We have no other land.

I have a US passport, but I have no land other than the land of Israel. That’s how all Israelis feel, those who were born here, those who hold dual citizenship, those who came to Israel out of choice and those who came as refugees. Israel is our home. We have no other land.

Like so many Israelis, I was thrown into shock and depression by the unprovoked, bestial murder of 1400 of our brethren. Fourteen days after the attack, hundreds of my parents and siblings and children are still unburied. Two hundred and three members of my family are being held hostage by Hamas, including thirty children. Tens of thousands of my countrymen have lost their homes. October 7 was the worst day of my life.

Photo: Olivia Fitusi

For a week I could do nothing but stare dumbfounded at the news. Then reality sank in. We have a war to fight. This is not the time to look back with recrimination at our government’s failure or to look down at the ground where our dead lie. Now is the time to look forward, to engage those who have come to murder us, and to destroy them.

Because we have no alternative, and here we shall live. We have no other land.

For the past week, we have been preparing for war. The citizen army is being equipped and training for our military response, to obliterate Hamas and to ensure that our children can live in security anywhere in our little country. The family of Israel is demonstrating a spirit of resilience and volunteerism that leaves no doubt that we shall prevail.

While spending the week driving donations of hot meals and toiletries and flags to soldiers at the front, I realized I had force myself to stop listening to the stories of incomprehensible horror and unfathomable bravery on the news, and to begin listening to music. The time for mourning and for recriminations will come after the war.

Photo: Maya Oshri Meshel

Only one song came into my ears, and I’m guessing the same is true for many Israelis.

The words to ‘Ein Li Eretz Aheret’ (‘I Have No Other Land’) were written by the much loved lyricist Ehud Manor in 1982 after his brother was killed in the first Lebanon war, a protest against government policy. Corinne Allal wrote the music, and Gali Atari recorded it in 1986.

Since then ‘Ein Li Eretz Aheret’ has become an anthem for protest movements from both the Right and the Left of the political spectrum, and many versions have been recorded. What they all have in common, in spite of different, even opposing politics, is the bottom line, the expression of our love for Israel. All of us, Right and Left, secular and Orthodox, elite and disenfranchised, share the same sentiment—we are one family with a common destiny.

We have no choice. This is our home.

We have no other land.

I have no other land
Even if my ground is burning
Only one word in Hebrew penetrates
My veins, my soul
With an aching body, a hungry heart
Here is my home  
אין לי ארץ אחרת
גם אם אדמתי בוערת
רק מילה בעברית חודרת
אל עורקיי, אל נשמתי
בגוף כואב, בלב רעב
כאן הוא ביתי  
I will not remain silent because my land
Has changed its face
I won’t give up on her
I’ll remind her
And I’ll sing here in her ears
Till she opens her eyes
לא אשתוק, כי ארצי
שינתה את פניה
לא אוותר לה
אזכיר לה
ואשיר כאן באוזניה
עד שתפקח את עיניה

Gali Atari, with lyrics in Hebrew and English.

‘Ein Li Eretz Aheret’ with visuals from the past week.