Music, Politics and Murder in Hebron.

By Daniel Marks

Ehud Banai, aged 60, is an important Israeli singer and songwriter. Born of the aristocratic Jerusalem Banai family he has recently become more religious, or traditional as it is often called in Israel. Despite this spiritual shift his political views are still generally considered to be left of centre.

This Succot, the Jewish festival of Tabernacles, Banai initially agreed to appear in the Judean settlement of Susya in South Hebron, but due to pressure from the Israeli left announced that he would cancel. However, after pressure from the Israeli right he finally announced that he would sing at Susya afterall.

I’m no great lover of music and rarely attend such gatherings, but on Sunday night I decided to attend. I wanted the concert to be a success and I reasoned that if any rowdy right wingers were to boo or heckle Banai, I’d be just the man to shut them up.

More importantly my daughter Rachelle is serving five minutes from Susya as part of her officers’ course and it would be a chance to bring her some home-cooked food and meet her friends. My sister, who lives ten minutes from Susya, invited us for a barbeque lunch in between seeing Rachelle and going to the concert.

All in all, it seemed too good an opportunity to miss. So, late Sunday morning we set off southwards.

Ehud Banai.

Ehud Banai.

We were pleased to see Rachelle. She told us that left wing demonstrators had been protesting near to the tiny settlement in which they were stationed. Apparently, the IDF’s main worry was what hot-headed settlers might do to these poor European anarchists.

Over lunch nobody spoke about politics. Truthfully, everything there is to say has been said so many times. Instead, it was all about family matters, gossip and advice for my niece who soon leaves for three years in Italy as an Israeli emissary and teacher. Her sister, who has waited for a child for nine years and has known so many disappointments, was there looking delightfully fat and pregnant. Please G-d.

It is now 7.15pm and we enter Susya. Shouts of “Free Palestine!” greet us and upset the festive atmosphere. I have heard something similar many times on clips on this excellent blog, but never live. They seem to be out of tune chanting “Free Pales-tine!” rather than the usual and much more melodious “Free Free Pal-es-tine!”.

Every fibre of my being wants to stop the car, get out and ask them why in this sea of madness that we call the Middle East the focus of their protests were always against this one tiny island of sanity, democracy and human rights.

“So, what would you say to them?” challenged my son. “What would you say?”

“Maybe I’d ask them why they don’t drive another 150 miles north and demonstrate against genocide” I replied.

“Yes, but they can’t go to Syria” retorted Ariel, “They would be torn to shreds by both sides.”

Ariel is right. There is very little point in trying to persuade those who believe in the concept of a “Higher Truth”. You can argue yourselves blue in the face citing historical facts, international law and just common sense, but they’ll just wait for you to finish and then repeat yet another tired cliché about apartheid or colonialism or worse.

And, anyway, the IDF were desperately putting every effort into protecting those wretched anarchists and wouldn’t have let me near them.

Gal Kobi who was killed by a Palestinian sniper.

Gal Kobi who was killed by a Palestinian sniper.

We arrive at the outdoor concert area after stopping briefly to taste some excellent, but over-priced Hebron wine. It has a similar taste to the Palestinian grapes that we purchased along the way. There are no seats though the wise have brought plastic chairs with them. We are about a dozen sharing two small blankets that do little to protect us from the sharp pebbles. There are to be two singers, Boaz Sharabi and Banai.

Sharabi and the organizers also seem worried that members of the audience might boo or heckle Banai because of his original cancellation. Sharabi inserts into his impressive performance a moving plea to receive his friend warmly. In the event there is little to worry about as the feast of tabernacles is traditionally a time of joy and Banai is cheered.

I may be there for political reasons, but clearly most are just out to have a good time, and who can blame them?

On the way home we hear that a Palestinian sniper has shot and killed a soldier in Hebron. Roxana, my wife, is worried that it might be one of Rachelle’s brothers in arms. However, it transpires that it was 20-year-old Gal (Gabriel) Kobi who served in another unit.

There is no reason to feel relief. Gal’s blood was no less red than the soldiers who are serving with Rachelle and he too had friends and family who loved him. He was a complete world and had plans and dreams and a potential that will never be realized because of the bullet of a coward with a sniper’s rifle.

I call Rachelle one last time on our way home and, as is traditional in Judaism, we part with a word of Torah. The story is told of a Jewish man who sits in his tabernacle with his young daughter one stormy night. The winds rock the shack and blow out some of the candles and his daughter asks, “Father, what will happen? Will our tabernacle fall down?” Her father smiles and strokes her head, “Don’t worry,” he answers, “This tabernacle has been standing for 3,000 years.”

And that is the truth. Perhaps that is what I should have told those anarchists.

Daniel Marks, a teacher, lives in Ma’ale Adumim on the West Bank.

18 responses to “Music, Politics and Murder in Hebron.

  1. Thank you Daniel for sharing with us. We know that chant well and like you are wondering why they ignore the real issues of life and death in the ME to be so concerned about a faux people who by local standards enjoy a life the Arab League dictatorships cannot offer them.

    In the UK those activists seem to be moving into the anti-fracking business. The sad thing is that their need for a cause destroys lives.

  2. Great post Daniel, thanks! And God bless Rachelle….

  3. Maale Adumim is an illegal settlement according to international law, built deliberately in that location so as to drive a wedge between the north and south West bank and thus to prevent the possibility of a contiguous Palestinian state. Shame on you Daniel Marks, for your denial and self-deception.

  4. I suggest this chant:

    From the River to the Sea,
    “palestine” Will Never Be!

  5. … and I repeat my own

    ISRAEL is here to stay
    no matter how you boo and bray

    thanks, Daniel – I’m eagerly awaiting your doing another one

  6. Hi Ruth,

    Maale Adumim is a Jewish city in Judea with a population of approximately 40,000 residents. It was built in accordance with Israeli law. Israel is a sovereign state governed by a government democratically elected by its citizens – Jews, Christians, Muslims, etc.

    It was not built with the purpose of preventing the creation of a Palestinian state and in all proposed peace plans, including those agreed upon by the leadership of the “Palestinian” people it would remain part of Israel.

    I wish our existence would prevent the establishment of such an existential threat to the Jewish people, but at the moment the only thing blocking its creation is that same “Palestinian” leadership – G-d bless’em.

    Abu Mazen’s latest negotiating position is a refusal to contemplate any kind of interim agreement. He wants it all or nothing – G-d bless’im.

    Have a great week!

  7. Daniel, you have my support, agreement and prayers.

  8. Ruth, what international law is Israel breaking?

    • The law that says once Jews have been ethnically cleansed from somewhere, they have to damned well STAY ethnically cleansed.

      It’s a subsection of the same law that says Israel has the right to self-defence… as long as nobody gets hurt (or inconvenienced).

  9. Fascinating post. Thanks!

  10. Convention (IV) relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War. Geneva, 12 August 1949.
    Deportations, transfers, evacuations

    ARTICLE 49

    ‘Individual or mass forcible transfers, as well as deportations of protected persons from occupied territory to the territory of the Occupying Power or to that of any other country, occupied or not, are prohibited, regardless of their motive.
    Nevertheless, the Occupying Power may undertake total or partial evacuation of a given area if the security of the population or imperative military reasons so demand. Such evacuations may not involve the displacement of protected persons outside the bounds of the occupied territory except when for material reasons it is impossible to avoid such displacement. Persons thus evacuated shall be transferred back to their homes as soon as hostilities in the area in question have ceased.
    The Occupying Power undertaking such transfers or evacuations shall ensure, to the greatest practicable extent, that proper accommodation is provided to receive the protected persons, that the removals are effected in satisfactory conditions of hygiene, health, safety and nutrition, and that members of the same family are not separated.
    The Protecting Power shall be informed of any transfers and evacuations as soon as they have taken place.
    The Occupying Power shall not detain protected persons in an area particularly exposed to the dangers of war unless the security of the population or imperative military reasons so demand.
    The Occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies.’

    • dear ruth

      I am eager to learn from you: Could you please define Occupying Power

      thanks! I’ll be forever grateful to you – because you see I have learned in decades of work that without clear definition of almost each and every word in such an exciting and never before even heard of anywhere text as the one you posted above the text is completely useless.

    • Ah, its so easy these days to just go to the internet and lift out a passage from somewhere that suits an agenda and quote it ad infinatum to make a point, regardless of any real knowledge or context. In this case I guess this piece of isolated seemingly convincing “international law” was probably provided via the PSC emanating from that well known barristers chambers in London that has a habit of using bits and pieces to spread their notion of the “greater good”Montenegro causing their groupies to receive criminal records. And because so call eminent legal practitioners peddle this propaganda those with an agenda against Jews grasp it like a dying man who spots a mirage. Funny though that these very same people don’t seem concerned at alll about the plight of civilians being slaughtered ten to the dozen as I type in Iran, Iraq, Syria, Jordan, Tunisia, Lybia…… all perpetrated by their own kind in the name of the religion of peace – another piece of propaganda peddled out of the ethosphere.

      Many of these self same cause junkies are beginning to turn their attention to fracking. Let’s hope their pea brains stay focused on that so that the Jews who gave the world the foundations of modern liberal society can live in peace, just for once in 6,000 years. And of course the Arabs of Palestine can reap the benefit with them, uninterfered with by the Red/Green Alliance socialite armchair supporters of terror.

  11. Hi Ruth,

    Ah yes! International law – love it. The same people who were demonstrating against the US intervening to stop the use of illegal chemical weapons, the same people who said nothing as 100,000 Syrians were massacred by their own government, the same people who kept silent as a democratically elected government was overthrown by the army in Egypt suddenly want to enforce international law. Especially if the heinous crime is that Jews are building houses, supermarkets, schools and kindergartens. After all “Two wrongs don’t make a right.”

    So where do I begin? During World War Two the German government invaded countries such as Poland and then forcibly transferred its own Jewish (also gypsy, homosexual, etc.) population to these countries before ultimately murdering most of them. So in article 49 stated:

    “Individual or mass forcible transfers, as well as deportations of protected persons from occupied territory to the territory of the Occupying Power or to that of any other country, occupied or not, are prohibited, regardless of their motive.”

    The first irony is that this article was meant to prevent Jews (among others) from being transferred or deported from their homes, but many wish to use it today as a justification for doing just that.

    Secondly, Israel is not an occupying power as there was no previously existing state (of Palestine or anything else) that was occupied. Judea and Samaria prior to the 1967 War were areas illegally annexed by Jordan. Prior to that they had been under the control of the British Mandate, which was established with the purpose of creating a Jewish National Home in Palestine (those areas included). Prior to that they belonged to the Ottoman Empire. The Turks have never made any claim that they should be returned to them.

    Thirdly, who is claiming that I was forcibly deported or transferred? I wasn’t, nor were my children and grandson who were born here. And even if you think I was, it is I who should have the grievance with the Israeli government for doing so. The victims of the forcible deportations in World War Two were the Jews, not the Poles.

    Finally, international law applies in a situation where there is no other treaty or agreement between parties. The future of Judea and Samaria will be determined by negotiations (as determined by the Camp David Accords and the Oslo Agreement) just soon as the other side wishes to do return to the table.

    I’d be happy for Abu Mazen to come back to negotiating table, and even happier if he doesn’t.

    I guess I’m just a happy guy!

  12. another question for dear ruth

    in this piece there is no mention whatsoever of applicable International Law unless the Madrid Principles have attained that status by now and Wikipedia knows nothing of it yet –

    maybe ruth who seems to be widely read on the subject could enlighten us as to that aspect of an issue that (hopefully!) can be “managed” but nothing more.
    Experts: Conflict over Karabakh can be “managed” but is unlikely to be resolved

  13. I think you chaps on here will enjoy this Israeli music video