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If you really love Israel, boycott Bob Dylan

An Israeli college includes the recital of a Dylan song at its Memorial Day ceremony, but some students weren’t having it. We dig a little deeper and find that ‘the voice of a generation’ is more anti-Israel than you ever could have imagined.

By John Brown*

Bob Dylan at the Civil Rights March on Washington, D.C., August 28, 1963. (Photo: Rowland Scherman, Nat’l Archives)

Bob Dylan at the Civil Rights March on Washington, D.C., August 28, 1963. (Photo: Rowland Scherman, Nat’l Archives)

A small controversy erupted on Israel’s Memorial Day, threatening to shatter whatever remains of national unity in Israel following the most recent elections. The Memorial Day ceremony at Oranim College in northern Israel included a reading of Bob Dylan’s song, “Masters of War.”

The song, it seems, caused a fair bit of resentment. Students at the educational college claimed, rightfully so, that the song calls for the killing of IDF soldiers, and that it addresses them, specifically. One can clearly see it in the following lyrics:

Come you masters of war
You that build all the guns
You that build the death planes
You that build all the bombs
You that hide behind walls
You that hide behind desks

You fasten all the triggers
For the others to fire
Then you set back and watch
When the death count gets higher
You hide in your mansion’
As young people’s blood
Flows out of their bodies
And is buried in the mud.

Clearly the song is talking about the simple, lowly soldier, the grunt in the field. It is not talking about those who sent him there, or the corporations or the military-industrial complex and politicians who make billions off of war, as Dylan and millions of fans understood decades ago.

The students’ claims seem legitimate to me, and are in no way the result of the dissonance that has caused them to misinterpret the lyrics of the song. Dissonance that, quite possibly, is the result of an inability to cope with an anti-war movement. Because if war is a bad thing, then what does that say about those who died in war? What does that say about their memory? Can heroes die in an unnecessary war? Are we responsible for not stopping it? Such issues cannot be discussed, lest false accusations render the entire enterprise illegitimate.

The lyrics weren’t written in a settlement

I decided to take a look through the author’s extensive discography. I was shocked to find that it is full of even more shocking pieces of work that are even more anti-Israel than “Masters of War.” It is only natural, therefore, that I hereby call for a boycott of Dylan’s songs.

Worry not, there is no way that this boycott will constitute a violation of the boycott law, for the lyrics were not written in a West Bank settlement. As High Court Justice Asher Grunis wrote last week, “a playlist is not a recipe for national suicide.”

May we all find hope in the fact that the most controversial song in Israel, which was written during the Cuban missile crisis, might mean that Israel, too, will finally lift its embargo on Cuba in 50 years’ time.

The partial list of Dylan’s anti-Israel work:

In his song “Isis” on the album “Desire,” Dylan explicitly expresses support for the abhorrent Islamic State organization, as the title clearly reveals.

In one of his most famous songs, “Like a Rolling Stone,” Dylan expresses support for stone-throwing by Palestinian youth as a path of resistance to the occupation.

Support for the ‘Mavi Marmara’ Gaza flotilla:

A call to free Palestinian political prisoners in general, and administrative detainees, whom only god knows what they stand accused of:

The song, “All Along the Watchtower,” is clearly a reference to the Nakba, and is dedicated to the clocktower in Jaffa:

A song of admiration for MK Haneen Zoabi:

And here he is explicitly defaming Mrs. Sara Netanyahu:

A song about the author of this article, whose anti-Israel views are widely known:

A thinly veiled reference to the killing of Rachel Corrie, in which Dylan ridicules the Israeli justice system’s treatment of the case:

Pondering who is responsible for the death of Palestinians killed by IDF soldiers when the official investigations never even manage to locate a suspect:

Criticizes the IDF and the political echelon, which forced Israelis in the south of the country to stay in bomb shelters all last summer, and who are sure to do the same thing next summer, or the summer after that:

*John Brown is the pseudonym of an Israeli academic and a blogger on +972’s Hebrew site, Local Call, where this article was first published in Hebrew.

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    1. Judith Cummings

      This is a joke, right? If not, it is utter crap.
      Bob Dylan wrote these songs in the 60s and 79s. Masters of War, especially, was written before the 6 Day War. There was no Intifada, no Hamas, and Gaza was controlled by Egypt. Rachel Corrie was just a twinkle in her daddy’s eye.
      Must be sarcasm! Otherwise, give me a break!

      Reply to Comment
    2. Nick Lewin

      shoddy writing going on in this blog. If you consider that opening quote Masters of War to be anti ‘grunt’ you have problems reading! The song Isis is a reference to the abodes Isis and was written in 74!
      Wait a minute I get it , this is a satirical site! You can’t really be that dumb!

      Reply to Comment
    3. Cheema Khaled

      John Brown — This is brilliant 😉

      Reply to Comment
      • Dylan remains true to himself. No one owns him. That’s one of the many things that makes him great.

        Reply to Comment
        • Craig Vale

          How true as I was in attendance when he appeared in the Newport Folk Festival in 65′ and much to the consternation of ” true folk enthusiasts” he busted out his electric guitar. Dylan was beholden to nobody and has ALWAYS been true to himself. While some reports of his appearance claim he was roundly booed by the folk faithful, there were indeed those who welcomed his rebel approach at the concert. His lyrics are timeless and uncompromising to this very day. Dylan never sold out to anyone ! Maybe those students should pay closer attention to his words rather than his notoriety. His lifelong genre speaks for itself and if you expected to hear ” Puff the magic dragon” you were definitely at the wrong venue.

          Reply to Comment
    4. boaz

      LMAO it’s a joke idiots

      Reply to Comment
    5. Fdi

      He was ahead of his time. He knew the future.

      Reply to Comment
    6. New Relic

      This is a bad piece of satire. Real baaaaaaad

      Reply to Comment
    7. Does the pseudonym belong to A.J. Weberman? If not. the author has deftly captured Weberman’s gift from insanity and wild assertions unrelated to rational thought and lacking the cleverness of surrealism.

      Reply to Comment
    8. Ben

      Inspired satire. Thank you ‘John Brown’. Glad you included “Girl From the North Country.” ; )

      Reply to Comment
    9. David

      +972 is an independent citizen journalism/blogger site. Though alot of the articles are well done and serious work which is well vetted, not all of it is, and sometimes bad writers and questionable people get through the cracks here. This John Brown seems to be trying to make a satirical piece here using Dylan’s work in attempt at irony, but fails miserably. (At least it appears this.) But he is a poor writer and the article was poorly conceived. This whole stunt of his just fell flat, and +972 should just block him from their site.

      Reply to Comment
    10. Yair Ironic

      I hope Gerald Steinberg doesn’t see this – it will wind up in the NGO monitor monitor 😉

      Reply to Comment
    11. visitor

      cynicism is the disease of our time.
      I’m sure you felt very smart writing those lines, while I think you’re condescending and bitter little man.

      Reply to Comment
    12. Ben

      The party poopers here seem angry, humorless, grumbling, taking themselves much too seriously. Had the politics been reversed they’d be swooning in admiration no doubt.

      Reply to Comment
      • New Relic

        Nah, this sucks. Anyone with taste, regardless of politics, knows that
        It is arduous to get through and just not funny at all
        Besides, knowledgable people lknow that Dylan is pro-Israel

        This would be like making a series of lame jokes involving Roger Waters
        You know, The Wall is about keeping terrorists out
        Dark Side,of the Moon is where the Palistinians should build their state
        And Learning to Fly supports the Nakba

        See? Mine is funnier and I did not even try. But I have the sense not to,publish such crap.

        You lose!

        Reply to Comment
    13. Roman

      you’re an Idiot babe! It’s wonder that you still know how to breathe

      Reply to Comment
    14. Peter Windom

      This is absolutely ridiculous!!! Do the “lowly soldiers” build all the guns, the death planes and the bombs while they sit behind desks? Do they hide in their mansions?

      Can you not read or are you just plain dumb?!

      No wonder Dylan left protest songs behind when there are people like you who can misconstrue everything he says and stands for.

      Some of the most idiotic drivel I’ve ever read.

      Reply to Comment
    15. nikkiejanee

      Boycott the most interesting intelligent charismatic man on earth…… I’ll pass on that. LOVE4DYLAN ALWAYS;)

      Reply to Comment
    16. bob

      Nicely done, I’ll begin my ‘boycott’ today. I’ll make sure to play everything I can find of his, and read anything by him too.

      That’ll show them all.

      Reply to Comment
    17. Gary

      This would be funny satire if the Masters of War mention wasn’t so clearly stupid, because the lyrics they chose to use CLEARLY are not about the lowly soldier but are indeed CLEARLY about those who send the soldiers to war. Like I say, that was stupid to read. As for the rest, of course one can interpret satirically Dylan or any lyrics anyway they want. One could interpret the Torah as anti-Israel if they wanted, too.

      Reply to Comment
    18. Michael Smith

      If you knew them personally, then you would know how slanted and inaccurate this article is and imo downright slanderous and defaming. It’s ludicrous! Today, at least, they are both practicing Sabbath Jews when he’s not on tour. If you believe this rumor monger, I have a bridge I’d like to sell you.

      Reply to Comment
    19. DanielB

      This is an obvious parody.

      Reply to Comment
    20. Alexander

      I believe that author of this artical wants to show all you BDS idiots how your paranoia looks like with your “special expertise” in uninformness and ignorancy of poorly educated red-neck anti-semites that generally are driven by hatred that has no base, arguments, or any connection to reasoning, so yes the only explanation for your behavior is the lack of identity, you are no one, you are nothing, you are empty, you are crap, white trash, and the only way you feel better is when you are on a pile with same nazistic shit as you are. Well love and hatred are same emotions but you are in reverse gear, so shift yourself forward. So visit Gaza stay awhile, than visit Israel. Or do you prefer the other way around? Your choice. Shalom!

      Reply to Comment
    21. To reduce the art of “Masters of War” to a sentence. It is that people make wars and profit from them and thus, sends other people, often the less fortunate and the young, to die in them…… The interpretation of this article is pure paranoia….

      Reply to Comment
    22. AncientAliens

      Im not saying that this is all because of aliens, but.. what if, an the so… its because aliens

      Reply to Comment
    23. If Bob Dylan had written anything anti-Zionist They would have closed him down pronto.

      Reply to Comment
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