I hope you’re OK with me calling you Bob. I’ve never had the honor of meeting you in person, but you’ve been a big part of my life for over 25 years now. At 12 I first heard “Jokerman” on an Israeli TV pop show, and from that moment I didn’t rest until I had every one of your albums I could lay a hand on. At 16 I used to walk around with the words to your songs scribbled on my T-shirts. People even said I looked like you (I had curls back then, which goes to show that you have me beat not only in talent, but also in luck regarding hair – or if to believe the rumors, money for quality rugs).
I know, you’re not a big fan of your fans, but I ain’t no crazy chick jumping you with scissors after a concert, and I’ve even outgrown the scribbled T-shirt phase, so hear me out a second. I know you’re not just or even mainly about politics and alla that, and that you still get annoyed thinking about folks who try to pigeon-hole you as a “protest singer”. That’s all good. After all, everyone knows you gave the world your best work after you shrugged that label off and pissed off the folk purists with the voltage. )
I also know you had a religious Jewish phase, and that you’re still chummy with elements from Chabad – the most nationalist Chasidic school of all.
Even so, you and I both know that just because you blew off the political pests, sent them to write their own damn anthems and turned instead to disappear through the smoke-rings of Mr. Tambourine Man‘s mind – that doesn’t mean that injustice doesn’t still infuriate you, that theft and murder and callousness don’t burn you up inside.
True, the last time you famously did something about it, the man for whom you went to bat (and whom you got a retrial and an eventual acquittal by reminding the world of how he was railroaded) threatened to sue you for using his life story without permission. But in this case you don’t have to write a song. You don’t even have to sing a song. What you have to do is simply NOT sing – at least not in Israel.
Personally, I’d love the chance to see you on stage one more time, and at your age (70 in under 2 months, congrats man), with reported health problems and life on the road like a real troubadour, who knows how many more opportunities there will be. But here’s the thing: The only way for this state, which you and I both deeply care for, to snap out of its delusions and stop trying to kill itself by chewing off more than it can swallow, stop slowly losing its humanity and honor by trying to maintain this stupid and destructive occupation, is for its friends to stop enabling the addiction.
The people who run this occupation – under which land is stolen every day from dirt-poor subsistence farmers, 11 year olds are arrested and treated with shameless brutality, and 66 year-olds are shot in their beds in actions deemed to be utterly proper by those who commit them – aren’t really scared of terrorism. On the contrary, it gives them the perfect excuse. What really terrifies them is that people like you, with the ability to reach and influence tens of millions, will look them in the eye and say “Sorry, but I can’t condone what you’re doing, no matter how much I may feel for you.”
28 years ago you recorded a brilliant defense of Israel, and told all its fanatic haters to grow the hell up and stop blaming all their problems on it. Back then, there were only a smattering of settlements. Since then the duration of the occupation has nearly tripled, the scope of land theft through illegal settlement activity has skyrocketed, and the amount of blood spilled over the insane dream of “A Greater Israel” has long since passed the tolerable.
Once again, you have a chance to sound a clear call and do your part to help Israel escape its bad trip. This time it won’t even require any effort. On the contrary – rather than land in Israel, play hide-and-seek with the paparazzi, do a single gig and then fly back out the next day, stay put by some pool, chill out and let your absence speak for you: Stop the occupation.
Welcome to my new English blog. Some of you may know me from my “Weekend Holyland Update” posts on Open Salon. This is the new place for that and more. For those who are new to my schtick – management is not responsible for any illusions, sympathies or misconceptions that may have been misplaced on our tours. Please share the location of this blog with your friends. Also, please note the donation button and help keep this fine and educational feature available, and its author out of debtors prison. Most obliged.