Wednesday, September 01, 2004

Singing of Revenge

The Jerusalem Post finally gets around to reviewing Dov Shurin's 2002 "Biblical Revenge" album:
Wake up Jew, wake up / it's time to fight them / ....sooner or later, gonna get these Jew-haters / take an axe and whack their heads in half," sings Dov Shurin on Down with Arafats.
Mainstream Orthodox Judaism clearly teaches that revenge is forbidden. In his interpretations of biblical commandments, the 17th-century Polish rabbi known as the Chafetz Chaim had harsh warnings against entertaining hateful feelings.
With this in mind, Shurin's concept album should be seen as a work that does nothing but incite genocide fueled by bigotry and bastardized zealotry.
Yet, like much post-Oslo Kahanism, Shurin's work is not only tolerated, but is alarmingly embraced by many elements in the modern orthodox mainstream.
Also, well-known musicians are apparently not ashamed to appear in the liner notes as guest musicians on this recording; I suppose that we should give them the benefit of the doubt and assume that they didn't see the album cover before they signed on.
It's actually timely in light of the recent "Dedi & Yonatan" release that includes a cover of "Zochreini Na."

Over a year ago, I wrote a post, "Radical Jewish Music (Not by John Zorn)" that I believe is worth highlighting again.
I think that at the very least there ought to be a public debate about the appropriateness of singing “songs of revenge”, but to the best of my knowledge, no Rav here in America has addressed the issue. The artists, producers, distributors, and promoters on the “scene” here have an obligation to the communal good and shouldn’t be associating themselves with extremist views.
Note: The left-wing site I referred to in my original post is down. I'd referred to it as a left-wing site based on the page or two that I'd read at the time which contained articles portraying leftist Israeli political views. It turns out to have been a Neo-Nazi site which has since shut down, although portions of the content appear to have been mirrored on other sites. Regardless, the essential point is still the same. Jews, especially religious ones, ought not sing about killing.

This report from today's Jerusalem Post illustrates the problem. Incidentally, according to the Shin Bet, this Jewish terrorist group was allegedly formed at the funeral for Sgt. Elazar Liebowitz of Kiryat Arba, who was killed in a terrorist shooting attack. His friends distributed a music CD in his memory to raise funds for victims of terror. On the CD, titled "Shirim She'Elazar Ahav" was Dov Shurin's "Zochreini Na."

(Thanks, E)

Update: 9/2/04
Link to J-Post article was broken. It's fixed now.