Tag Archives: Music

Nominate Orphaned Land to 2013 Nobel Peace Prize


Here is my petition to nominate the Israeli metal band Orphaned Land to the 2013 Nobel Peace Prize. Orphaned Land has managed to create a reality of coexistence in the region that has escaped politicians and peacemakers alike. This petition is just step one in the process of nominating this band. It’s goal is to generate support and buzz. If you haven’t already signed it, please do and share with your online community. Let’s make history.     

Can Heavy Metal Save the World?

My latest on the way in which Orphaned Land, Israel’s biggest heavy metal band, is transforming relations between Muslims and Jews in the MENA.

Sometimes change happens in the most unlikely ways, fostered by the most unlikely of people. In the last few years, while Israel’s relationship with the Arab and Muslim world has drastically deteriorated, an Israeli heavy metal band has been uniting thousands of Jews and Muslims across the Middle East.

Originally published in Common Ground News, a longer version of this piece also appears in The Jerusalem Post.

More on Johanna Fakhri’s Performance With Orphaned Land

From France 24’s The Observers (with my full interview below).

“That a heavy metal band and a belly dancer perform together is unusual enough. When the band is Israeli and the dancer Lebanese, the performance raises quite a few eyebrows. But when the performers choose to brandish their respective countries’ flags side by side on stage, you have all the ingredients for a potentially volatile mix. Continue reading

Johanna Fakhry: A Dance of Moral Courage.

Johanna Fakhry, the talented and courageous Lebanese dancer who joined Orphaned Land on stage, has penned a response to her inspiring and controversial artistic collaboration with the Israeli band.

* I have slightly edited the letter for grammar and flow (where meaning was unclear, I left untouched).

Facing the amount of mails concerning the deed we’ve done on stage at the Hellfest Festival with Orphaned Land – that is to say raising and uniting on stage both Lebanese and Israeli flag – your worldwide reactions as bad or positive, as hateful or supportive as they can be, led us (Kobi and I) to write a statement explaining and not justifying our behaviour. Continue reading

Music Vid: Sneakas “I’m An American”

* It’s a pleasure to have a such a talented brother.

BDS and the Cultural War For Israel/Palestine

Well, you got to give the BDS folks credit for creativity – even if they added artists who might not have agreed to be put on their team (for example, Santana’s publicist told me personally that he did not cancel but postponed his concert and that the move was not due to political considerations.) They are doing an excellent job promoting and popularizing their cause.

The video, however, also reveals a mentality that is a major part of the problem – viewing this conflict as a black and white struggle between monsters and victims engaged in a zero-sum game for the soul and body of Israel/Palestine. All information, factual or otherwise, is filtered through this dichotomous schema in a way that is congruent with its content. Such a model may mobilize people on college campuses and the like (not sure they will be flattered by the penguin comparison though), but it wont bring Israelis and Palestinians closer to peace. Continue reading

Sagol 59 Weighs In On The State of Israeli Hip-Hop

In an interesting article in Haaretz, rapper Sagol 59 states that true Hip-Hop has yet to be born in Israel. Sagol argues that sorry state of Israeli Hip-Hop is a consequence of the structural makeup of the society and culture. Key quote:

This young country, which since the day it was founded has been fighting for its very existence, has an urgent and constant need for unity in the ideological ranks and the creation of an all-embracing consensus in thinking, which will help “us” fight the enemies “out there” effectively. And in Israel, the arts, including popular music, are also recruited to represent Israeli society’s ethos while giving unreserved support to the state institutions and shelving away criticism, doubts and questions in the locked emergency storerooms at the edge of consciousness.

In this way, certainly, the American hip-hop fan who has grown up on the sparks in the politics of Public Enemy, Ice Cube’s anti-establishment barbs or the subversion of ensembles like Dead Prez, Lynch Mob or Brand Nubian, would wonder at the fact that in Israel there are rappers whose songs are paid for by government institutions, and who sing in official campaign against drugs and in favor of road safety.

It appears that Israel is one of the only countries in the world where rappers are spokesmen for the government, the state and the army, which of course paves a more convenient way to being heard on the radio, certainly in a country where the radio station with the most listeners is owned by the government and belongs to the army.

Presumably those same wealthy people who own regional radio stations and television channels aren’t really losing sleep over a lack of political hip-hop on the airwaves or via satellite.

Sagol makes a number of good points (despite overstating the case for groupthink in Israeli society); chief among them is that for Israeli Hip-Hop to progress it must give creative space for those who value criticism over catering. I have always found it odd that Israel is one of the only countries – if not the only country – where popular political Hip-Hop is right-of-center. For those who doubt the existence of an unholy alliance between Israeli hip-hop and the political establishment: observe and enjoy :)

* Despite what the clip says, this is not Shai 360.

Shye Ben-Tzur: Uniting Jews and Muslims Through Music.

A recent article about the amazing Shye Ben-Tzur

“Ben Tzur, who has been living and making music in India for over a decade now, has a small but devoted following here. In Israel, however, he is something of a legend, at least among an eastward-looking (and boisterous and increasingly influential) fringe. “Usually, when Israelis leave Israel to develop their creativity elsewhere, people grumble,” says Jacque Mizrahi, a music critic in Tel Aviv, “but in Shye’s case, everyone is very supportive, because what he does in India he could only do in India, and he is bringing it back to us, enriching us and letting us live this incredible fantasy, vicariously.”

Smadar Levi’s Dispatch From Sderot.

“Amidst the recent tensions in the Middle East, a voice for peace and unity has emerged. No, it is not the voice of a political leader, nor is it the voice of a grassroots movement; rather it is the euphonious and haunting voice of singer Smadar Levi.”

Thus began my first-ever published article (read here), about the award-winning and fantastic world-music singer Smadar Levi. I am glad to report that Smadar is still using her talent and passion to bring peace of mind and heart to a people besieged by terror and conflict. During the current crises in Gaza and Israel, Smadar returned to her hometown of Sderot to bring goods and music to a population that has been paralyzed by fear and destruction.

The following is Smadar’s first dispatch from Sderot.

As the situation here in the south of Israel is escalating, I would like to bring you some of my experience from sderot, Israel. I arrived to Israel two weeks ago, shortly after the war started, needless to say there wasn’t too much time to enjoy.

After a search, I decided to join to organizations that work together to provide whatever is needed in the South region for kids and adults as one. Sderot is my hometown: that’s where I was born, and where my mom still lives till today. Like many of Sedrot’s courageous and proud citizens, she refuses to leave town despite the fact that a kassam rocket fell in our backyard.

The organizations I joined are “Lev Echad” and “Bekavod”, which provide goods such as food, toys and everything else that people need as they sit stranded in shelters for so many days.

This past week was in particular intense and stressful as the number of Kassam Rockets was between 40-60 a day in Sderot and nearby area.

Despite the risk we went to Sderot (about 40 people and soldiers), and prepared and provided hundreds of boxes filled with food, creative art, and toys; in addition we provided over 500 boxes of food for the soldiers serving in the line of fire. As we moved from Shelter to shelter we divided the time between listening to the kid’s stories and singing for them. Then we moved to the next shelter, and that’s how the day went.

Despite the horror faced on daily basis, the people of Sderot and the surrounding are in good spirit and keeping up the faith, which is so incredible. Seeing these people with such a positive spirit made me so proud that I belong to this little town that brought some of Israel’s best talent and personalities.

I spent most of one of the days with four soldiers and got to see much more than I expected; we actually got into a closed area (for residents) near Nahal Oz, and witnessed hundreds of soldiers who were about to go into Gaza; a moment after, we saw a kassam rocket being fired to Ashkelon. I did not expect to have seen any of that, but seeing it made me sad and torn.

Only peace, understanding and a fair leadership will create unity and harmony with our neighbors.

Tomorrow , I will be joined by a number of musicians and we will play music from shelter to shelter and hope that life will go back to normality and peace will arrive very soon.





If you have questions for Smadar, send them here. Please take the time to visit her website, and stay tuned for further dispatches from Sderot.

Music Break: Jews and Muslims Come Together Through Song

This a vid of Shye Ben-Tzur’s Heyaam project – an Indian Jewish/Muslim musical collaboration. Filmed in India, where Shye lives, the group are in rehearsal for an upcoming gig in Israel. To hear and read more about Shye and his project, visit his myspace page. I highly recommend it!

This vid is of the same song being performed at the concert in Israel: