Thursday, December 8, 2016

Bob Dylan’s forgotten pro-Israel song, revisited

 younger than that now,” Bob Dylan sang in 1964’s “My Back Pages.”
Reverse-aging or no, the legendary Jewish folk singer turns 75 on Tuesday.
While Dylan’s Jewishness has been examined and reexamined over the years, relatively little attention has been paid to his 1983 song “Neighborhood Bully” — a rare declaration of full-throated Israel support by a mainstream American rocker.The lyrics (posted in full here) equate Israel with an “exiled man,” who is unjustly labeled a bully for fending off constant attacks by his neighbors.
Dylan released the song on his second studio album, “Infidels,” in the wake of his brief born-again Christian phase during the late 1970s and early 1980s.
Some of the lyrics sound like they could have been taken from speech by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who often portrays Israel as besieged.

    Well, the neighborhood bully, he’s just one man
    His enemies say he’s on their land
    They got him outnumbered about a million to one
    He got no place to escape to, no place to run
    He’s the neighborhood bully
Others are reminiscent of the 2015 campaign ads for religious Zionist political party Yisrael Beytenu, in which Education Minister Naftali Bennett urges Israelis to “stop apologizing.”

    Well, he knocked out a lynch mob, he was criticized
    Old women condemned him, said he should apologize.
    Then he destroyed a bomb factory, nobody was glad
    The bombs were meant for him. He was supposed to feel bad
    He’s the neighborhood bully
“Neighborhood Bully” came after Israel’s controversial 1982 Lebanon War, at a time when even Israelis were questioning their government.
Born Robert Allen Zimmerman and raised Jewish in Wisconsin, Dylan has maintained Israel ties throughout his life. He visited the country several times in the late 1960s and 1970s and even took steps toward joining a kibbutz. He played three shows in Israel in 1987, 1993 and 2011. The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement pressed him to cancel his most recent performance — to no avail.
Even more recently, Israelis can thank Dylan for the 2014 Rolling Stones concert in Tel Aviv, the band’s first visit to the country. According to Stones guitarist Ronnie Wood, Dylan gave them the idea.

“He was coming off stage and said, ‘We’re going to Tel Aviv,’” Wood told Israel’s Channel 2 at the time. “He had a big smile on his face and said he loved it there.”

Saturday, December 3, 2016

T.E. Lawrence wanted to see Jewish colonies – 'bright spots in a desert' – in the Holy Land

The British officer Lawrence--a pan-Arabist nationalist and a Zionist--played a key role in the Arab revolt against the Ottoman Empire army in the Middle East war theater. Lawrence wrote in 1909 about the then Ottomann-controlled Palestine: “The sooner the Jews farm it the better: their colonies are bright spots in a desert.”

In a rarely noted 1920 article titled “The Changing East,” Lawrence wrote of the Jewish biblical connection to Israel. For Lawrence, “the Jewish experiment” to create a homeland was “a conscious effort, on the part of the least European people in Europe, to make head against the drift of the ages, and return once more to the Orient from which they came.”
T.E. Lawrence, the British military officer whose famous liaison role in the Middle East in the First World War earned him the nickname "Lawrence of Arabia," was one of the early Gentile visionaries to realize the importance the newly reborn Nation of Israel had to play in the region.
On November 28, 1918, a year after the Balfour Declaration, Lawrence wrote to the British newspaper "The Jewish Guardian," cited in Martin Gilbert's "Churchill and the Jews," that “Speaking entirely as a non-Jew, I look on the Jews as the natural importers of Western leaven so necessary for countries of the Near East.”
Lawrence, who despite being born out of wedlock, had parents who were devout Christians – members of the St. Aldate’s Church, which preached an evangelical type of Christianity. He studied the Holy Land in Sunday school, starting him out on the path to a long love for the Middle East and its history - and later, helping determine its future.
An expert on Crusader castles already in university, Lawrence took his knowledge to the Middle East, working in archeology and a map surveying, learning the local languages and customs in the years just prior to the Great War breaking out. 

Returning to in the region during the war, Lawrence made well-known his desire for the Arab population to gain independence, but he also made clear that Zionist dreams were meant to flourish as well.
"His relationship to the Zionist movement was a very positive one, in spite of the fact that he was strongly pro-Arab and he has been mistakenly represented as anti-Zionist," wrote Zionist leader and Israel's first president, Chaim Weizmann, in his autobiography "Trial and Error."
Lawrence had interpreted a meeting between Weizmann and Prince Faisal, where Weizmann told the Arab emir that a future Jewish state would not encroach on the "ownership rights of Arab peasantry.”
Gilbert, Winston Churchill's biographer, wrote that Lawrence's presence at the Cairo Conference in 1921, which would decide on the future of the Middle East was of "inestimable benefit to [British Colonial Secretary Winston] Churchill in his desire to help establish a Jewish National Home in Palestine."
But the real desire to see the Jewish People succeed may have gone back to his days of learning the about the Kingdom of Israel in Sunday school.
"It is a conscious effort, on the part of the least European people in Europe, to make head against the drift of the ages, and return once more to the Orient from which they came," Lawrence wrote in a 1920 article called "The Great East."
“The colonists will take back with them to the land which they occupied for some centuries before the Christian era samples of all the knowledge and technique of Europe."
But the Jewish Nation would not just be returning home, they would be returning the Holy Land – a wasteland for almost 2,000 years – to its glory days.
"Palestine was a decent country then, and could so easily be made so again," he wrote in a letter during his early years in the region, cited in "The Letters of T.E. Lawrence," edited by David Garnett
"The sooner the Jews farm it all the better: Their colonies are bright spots in a desert.”

To learn more about Jewish-Christian relations, and the building of the modern State of Israel as envisaged by the prophets of the Bible check us out at @christian_jpost, on and see the best of the Holy Land in The Jerusalem Post - Christian Edition monthly magazine.