The first part of the 1980s were hard times in Israel. Menachem Begin's Likud won the 1981 election by a whisker, but only after an acrimonious election campaign that came close to tearing apart Israeli society. There was a war of no consensus from 1982 that kept on getting worse. The economy was in shambles, and that, too, kept on getting worse, eventually approaching Argentinian-style inflation. Part of the time the relations with the American administration were considerably worse than what they are today, or at any rate certainly no better (hard to believe, huh?).
That was the background for Meir Ariel's song about Pharaoh. Ostensibly, it was a series of kvetches about his upstairs neighbor, the nasty bank clerk, and other woes - except for the refrain:
- Aval avarnu et Par'o, na'avor gam et ze. (We survived Pharaoh, we'll survive this also).
It was an instant and eternal hit. Precisely because it didn't specifically kvetch about Reagen, say, or Begin, or the minister of finance (there were lots of them in those days, coming and going all the time), it never lost its immediacy; by focusing on the original disaster, from which we eventually so spectacularly escaped, it was more comforting than some of the subsequent calamities. "We survived the Cossacks", while true, would have had a less triumphant ring. And it certainly was triumphant, in a kvetch-infused sort of way.
Ariel is unfortunately no longer with us, but the sentiment is still just fine. Just fine for this day of preparations before Pessach, just fine for the American's new boss, just fine as a summary of the past and present.
Avarnu et Par'o, na'avor gam et ze.