Tisha B’Av and the Protests

August 8, 2011 by

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Ehud Banai is a leading Israeli singer-songwriter.

This piece first appeared in Hebrew on http://www.ehudbanai.co.il/

 

Sometimes I ask myself why the sages determined that the days commemorating the destruction of the Temples should be days of mourning and fasting. After all, it was the Babylonians and the Romans after them who caused all the exile and destruction, so why aren’t they fasting?

But the gaze of the sages is as always directed internally. They ask in the Gemara: For what reason was the land destroyed?

And they bring a collection of stories that recall a society with no mercy, no justice, eaten up with senseless hatred, with violent nationalist fanaticism, with a corrupt and patronizing government, and they state very clearly: This is why the land was destroyed.

The social protest that is breaking out now is important, fundamental, and unavoidable.

I’m not sure if it’s right to follow its every step and stride with cameras and the media. I’m not convinced that it’s right to turn it into another summer festival. You have to give it time. Real things permeate slowly and deeply and only then can a fundamental change occur, rather than a superficial change that passes just as soon as it came.

On the other hand, all attempts to belittle it, to declare it null and void, to say that it is political and only connected to one specific group is not right. It is a true cry that comes from the heart of the people onto the streets, and it crosses boundaries and sectors.

Right now I can’t perform at the tents, because these are the nine days of mourning leading up to Tisha b’Av when it’s not customary to play music. There are those who say that it’s permissible to sing without accompaniment, but I’m afraid I can’t really do that without a guitar…

Beyond that, I want to say that I’m really not comfortable with all the media pressure about who’s performing and who is not performing. Which singer is behind the revolution and which isn’t. That isn’t really what is important.

I’ve been asked to come to support the tent-dwellers, in places far from the center of the country and far from the cameras, like Tel Hai and Katzrin.

I wanted to tell them: My heart is completely with you. If you’re still around after Tisha b’Av, I’ll come over and sing you “City of Sanctuary.”

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