New video: Boycott Israel, if you think that’s just…

New video: Boycott Israel, if you think that’s just…


norman lebrecht

November 23, 2013

Ari Lesser has been filming an equality rap in his succah. Watch.



  • “Pick up the paper and read the news.”

    Of course, if the Israel-haters would do that — and, by extension, read the history — there would be far fewer Israel-haters.

    • Michael Schaffer says:

      Jeffrey – In a recent discussion about Russia’s anti-gay laws, someone said that other countries had worse anti-gay laws and you replied:

      ““Mommy!! Billy did it, toooo!!!!” is now considered a defense? It didn’t work when I was 8 years old, and it doesn’t work now.”

      With which I agree, BTW. But – wouldn’t you say that this applies here, too?

      • I haven’t said that, “Billy does it, too;” my point is that if people would read the history instead of believing that which “everyone knows,” they’d realize that much of what everyone “knows” is either false or out of context.

        • Neil van der Linden says:

          #Jeffrey. Yet apparently reading a lot on history is not a guarantee for coming to the single conclusions. Chomsky versus Burke, Horkheimer versus Levy, me vs you… 😉

        • Michael Schaffer says:

          No, you yourself did not say “Billy did it, too!!!!”. You said that saying that does not work as a defense*. With which I agree. Not even for 8 year olds. With which I agree, too.

          But this video is all about “Billy did it, too!!!!”. Over and over again. So my question is: does what you said about the Billy defense not being a valid defense apply here, too? Or do you apply double standards when it comes to this particular subject?

          I also agree with you that knowledge of history, of solid facts as far as we can establish them, and especially context are very important and that most of us probably don’t understand this subject nearly well enough to really grasp it. But the question here is, does the historical context apply to everyone equally or not? Do you admit the Billy defense as valid in this particular case?

    • ed says:

      Mr. Salzberg- You’re right about reading the history, but history can be complicated and facts can be messy.

      • Neil van der Linden says:

        Double standards are everywhere. Strictly speaking Iraq has been punished, heavily, for occupying Kuwait and ignoring UN resolutions on possessing weapons of mass destruction where Israel has not (in the end the arms turned out not to be there, or at least not anymore – since Saddam with the explicit or silent consent of the West and the Arab states had used them on Iran and his own people). Iran has experienced heavy sanctions for possibly developing nuclear arms where Israel has not been sanctioned for possessing them. Syria almost got bombed for possessing and applying chemical warfare while Israel has been able to use phosphorus bombs on Gaza and fragmentation bombs on Lebanon. That is because the West has a different relation with each of these regimes, but that is exactly the problem. And the reason some conclude that boycott is a more effective weapon against our closest ally in the region than against Zimbabwe and North-Korea.

        Anyway all this has little to do with music, even though the topic it is all about was initiated by a song.

        The real original occasion of course has more to do with the boycott by Roger Waters and the remarks after his concert in the Proms this summer by Nigel Kennedy – not a call for a boycott – discussed here before. That had to be music. However it would have been fairer then if for intense Kennedy’s performance as such as well as his statement as such would have been promulged here at face value, as such. It arrived here in this blog only after a row started, with a lot of negative connotations, including on the artistry as such of the artists in question.

        • Israel has not been punished because the UN resolutions were, in their essence, a demand that Israel commit national suicide, passed by nations more interested in Arab oil than in doing the ethical thing.

  • Mathieu says:

    The funny part is that, in his song, Mr Lesser implicitly acknowledges that Israel commits human rights violations. And the fact that he puts Israel in the same category than e.g. North Korea or Syria does not seem very flattering for the Israeli government!

    • José Bergher says:

      I agree with you. It’s too late to delete my comment (“Very good”; see below). I wrote it impulsively after watching the video only once and without also stating the reservations you so accurately included in your comment.

      • Mathieu says:

        Well those were not actually reservations (nor was it an endorsement)… 😉 In any case, this blog is hardly the proper forum to have a rational and cool-headed discussion on the Israel/Palestine issue. So please do not take my previous comment as being any kind of statement regarding this much too complex issue.

        • Michael Schaffer says:

          I did not take your previous comment as being any kind of statement regarding this much too complex issue. I took it as a rational and cool-headed observation about this particular video and its not very thought-through message. You hit the nail on the head. No need to apologize. Well, maybe to the nail, if you feel like it…

    • Israel’s first priority is to protect itself and its citizens — Jewish and Arab alike.

  • Steve says:

    unfortunate to kick off with North Korea…a country which has in effect boycotted itself.

  • José Bergher says:

    Very good.

  • Neil van der Linden says:

    It is only a rap and it has to rhyme and I am no saying that an Israel boycott is useful, but the guy overlooks the fact that of of all the countries he mentions except for two Israel is the closest ally of the West, unless he sees Sudan, Turkmenistan, Iraq (which the West ‘liberated;), Congo and Zimbabwe in about the same league. As Mathieu observes eloquently that the singer makes some comparisons that are not very flattering for Israel (Mathie wrote: The funny part is that, in his song, Mr Lesser implicitly acknowledges that Israel commits human rights violations. And the fact that he puts Israel in the same category than e.g. North Korea or Syria does not seem very flattering for the Israeli government!)

    Outside Israel of the Western nations he mentions the USA and its treatment of Guentanamo prisoners and such issues. I think part of the people criticising Israel do the same for the USA on exactly this topic. From Chomsky to Roger Waters and from Ilan Pappe and Uri Geller to – I dare to claim – the late Edward Said and Daniel Barenboim. And then he mentions Germany, which has committed the biggest crime against Jews indeed, but they also have repented, at least as a nation, and I think that goes for almost the whole German population. The problem is that the Palestinians still pay for that crime on a daily basis and a part of the rest of the unrest in the Middle-East is still related to the foundation of Israel, including where regimes, on both sides, use this to cover up for other topics or to rally peoples against each other.

    Then another problem with the song is what is in the sentence ‘Don’t pick and choose then pick on the Jews. Here he equates political criticism with racism, and this is blatant propaganda of the kind that people from Netanyahu to Pam Geller like to use too and is just a demagogic equation, obviously.

  • Neil van der Linden says:

    Anyhow even though it is song in a music videoclip, the topic has little to do with music.

  • David Boxwell says:

    This isn’t really a “Slipped Disc” entry. I’d put it in the “Smacked Arse” blog.

  • Barbara says:

    I’m not sure why this is on this site.

  • fred says:

    pff sort of boring repetitive song with a voice whihch gets on your nevers after a while…it has some merit but in general no need for this kind of stuff, the message is right though, people do have double standards towards israel