Bob Dylan, Israel and the License to Kill

FRIENDS and regular readers of my blog know that I am a lifelong fan of musician and poet Bob Dylan… that will never change.

And neither will Dylan’s public vagueness about his personal politics.

Until now, that has on occasions bothered me.

Dylan, born Robert Allen Zimmerman in 1941 to US Ukrainian Jewish immigrants, became a Born Again Christian in 1979.

But he has maintained his Jewish cultural traditions and has wavered over the years in his view of the Israel / Palestine conflict.

He has visited Israel a number of times – even played there in 2011, against the advice of some of his contemporary musicians – and wrote a song in 1983 called Neighborhood Bully, in which he defends the Zionist position.

Yet recently Dylan joined the world wide call for a boycott of Israeli goods, following the Gaza massacres in the summer of 2014.

I smiled deeply at this news.

But nothing quite prepared me for the following…

A controversy erupted on Israel’s Memorial Day this year, threatening to shatter national unity in Israel following the 2015 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 strong resentment among Zionists. Students at the educational college claimed, that the song calls for the killing of IDF soldiers, and that it addresses them, specifically:

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 sit 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.

For me, like millions of others, Masters of War is a song of peace and a damnation to those who are behind all wars.

But to the Zionists in Israel, Dylan’s words are a direct attack on Israel and his Jewish forefathers!

In a twist of irony the online +972 magazines now states: “If you really love Israel, boycott Bob Dylan… dig a little deeper and find that ‘the voice of a generation’ is more anti-Israel than you ever could have imagined.”

Just amazing!

So with the conflict across the border in Syria now raging, I give you one of Bob Dylan’s more recent anti-war songs, one that resonates so strongly at the moment:

License to Kill

Man thinks ’cause he rules the earth he can do with it as he please And if things don’t change soon, he will Oh, man has invented his doom First step was touching the moon

Now, there’s a woman on my block She just sit there as the night grows still She say who gonna take away his license to kill?

Now, they take him and they teach him and they groom him for life And they set him on a path where he’s bound to get ill Then they bury him with stars Sell his body like they do used cars

Now, there’s a woman on my block She just sit there facin’ the hill She say who gonna take away his license to kill?

Now, he’s hell-bent for destruction, he’s afraid and confused And his brain has been mismanaged with great skill All he believes are his eyes And his eyes, they just tell him lies

But there’s a woman on my block Sitting there in a cold chill She say who gonna take away his license to kill?

Ya may be a noisemaker, spirit maker Heartbreaker, backbreaker Leave no stone unturned May be an actor in a plot That might be all that you got ’Til your error you clearly learn

Now he worships at an altar of a stagnant pool And when he sees his reflection, he’s fulfilled

Oh, man is opposed to fair play He wants it all and he wants it his way

Now, there’s a woman on my block She just sit there as the night grows still She say who gonna take away his license to kill?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4zP9OUNuUk4

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Author: seagullnic

Writer, editor, lecturer and part-time musician. Passions in life: my family, Bob Dylan, music of many genres, Brighton and Hove Albion FC, cooking plus good food and wine.

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