UPDATE: Kobi Farhi has again responded to us with another open letter. Read that letter and our response here.
Upon publication of my latest article, we contacted Orphaned Land in order to get their comments on it. Kobi Farhi sent us the following open letter, which we reproduce in its entirety.
For my response, just scroll to the bottom.
I believe it was Voltaire who said: “I do not agree with what you have to say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it”
You know Jon, people who are brought to trial, had a lawyer, witnesses, evidence, it’s a process, and yet, we all know that sometimes innocent people were thrown to Jail. That alone might help you to understand how terrified I might get sometimes when I’m being judged and found guilty in 10 seconds.
First about that YouTube video you linked – you couldn’t really hear the question “How does the situation influence on your writing process?” to understand that my answer was specifically answering about what I was asked. I do agree that the title “Kobi on GAZA” doesn’t do grace with the questions I was really asked.
Regarding the law in Lebanon – I was told about it by Lebanese people, if that is not the case, well, I’ll be more than happy about it, and maybe all those Lebanese who called Johanna Fakhri “A Jewish whore, who slept with all of us to get some stage time” will take their words back and apologize, as we are nothing but brothers, soul mates who share the same views about the historic forgotten brotherhood of Israelis and Arabs.
We toured (mainly all over Europe) with bands from Tunisia, Algeria, Jordan, and on our latest tour, we joined hands with a Palestinian band. I haven’t seen any other band supporting those bands from my region, and while doing that we always carried one important message – “While it takes our leaders six months of pre-talks just to sit on the table, while our nations cannot share the same landscape, city, neighborhood, or a building, look at us – we live together in a tour bus, both Israelis and Palestinians”
It was just before the last conflict began that I was invited to London to receive a Metal Hammer award for Orphaned Land as the Global Metal band of the year. I have decided to share this award with a Palestinian band, and took their band leader with me, instead of our bassist who stayed at home for the sake of the message we had, on stage we simply declared together – “We are historical brothers, brothers are not declaring ‘that is mine and not yours’ brothers say – ‘what’s mine, is yours’” and therefore I shared with them the award.
While being in the conflict, we filmed a video clip of the song “Let The Truce Be Known” which is a clear lyrical/visual statement about the situation but you haven’t thought mentioning that I suppose?
Let me tell you something just to wrap it all up – I’m 39 years old. I, unlike you, I live here, I grew up here. You’re calling me and my band “hypocrites” because we didn’t took a one clear side in which you personally find to be the right side at this conflict. Yes, more Palestinian died (no one built for them any shelters) as we the Israelis ran for shelters. Have you heard about a war where innocents didn’t die? And what does the amount of dead have to do with anything? Shall we arrange more dead Israelis next time so that your graphs and stats would make more sense to you? In World War 2, more Germans died than Americans; does that make the Nazis to be on the right side? What do those things have to do with anything? Thousands of innocent Israelis died too in suicide bomb attacks, you mentioned the 2,000 who died in 50 days of war, I hope you know that that’s the number of innocent dead over a one weekend in Syria, and let’s not mention ISIS, the whole Middle East is bleeding. I condemn every death of innocent, it breaks my heart and burns my soul, and I despise politicians, just by the fact that we succeed to do more than they do, and we’re just a metal band. We’re musicians, we’re universal, above politics, we belong to everyone and both Israelis or Palestinians. Taking sides here will do nothing. Creating brotherhoods between the two nations is our way, always was, always will be. You don’t like it? Fine…
Don’t be mistaken – Wars are the most hated thing ever existed for me. And from my knowledge and experience I grew to know that we are trapped (by “we” I mean all humanity, but specifically the Israelis and Arabs too) in an endless hate loop, blood circle, and both sides are guilty the same way; I have also learned that we can have wars, negotiations, peace conventions. You name it. That won’t help as long as hate and revenge are out there and as long as both sides are closed in a self victimized wall. And especially as long as people here think that there is any right or wrong here.
The ONLY way for us to overcome would not be through politics. It’s simple – we need to learn and love one another, the way brothers do. We need to remember that we are historical brothers, descendants of Abraham, and that’s what I’m doing when I’m doing interviews, writing songs, touring or sharing tour buses and awards with my so called “Enemies”.
I find it very stupid and arrogant that you sit out there in the USA, judging me, lecturing me what I should say or what my opinions should be, or otherwise I’d be “hypocrite”.
I’m trying something different for 23 years now, so far, me and my band mates, we’re the most famous Israelis among Arabs, and with that said we are constantly being criticized from all sides, so that probably means we’re doing something right.
With much respect, and hoping for better days.
PS – On the attached photo – Me and Abed, my true soul mate, the leader of the Palestinian band “Khalas”, right after I shared with him the Metal hammer award. May leaders from both sides will learn from Metal heads how easy that might be, if you just truly want it.
Thank you very much for your response. I appreciate that you took the time to write such a lengthy reply.
I am sure that you, as a person, are very kindhearted. I don’t doubt that you truly love and care about the Arabs and Persians with whom you have toured, and those who are your fans, not to mention the friends that you have accumulated throughout the years. I do, however, still think that you have missed an opportunity to put your words into action.
In your letter you say that the Palestinian side is what I “personally find to be the right side at this conflict”. You are wrong; completely and absolutely wrong. The United Nations Security Council passed in November 1967 Resolution 242; this resolution, in essence, states that Israel must withdraw from the territories it acquired during the 1967 war. It’s that simple. This was also the position of the International Court of Justice which, in 2004, issued an advisory opinion referring to the Israeli breaches of international law. Furthermore, this has been the position of NGO groups like Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Doctors Without Borders, B’Tselem and the Red Cross. Can you really claim, therefore, that it is “my” opinion?
You mention that the reason why so many people in Gaza have died is because “no one built them any shelters”. Are you being serious? Is this really the opinion of someone who cares about peace and understanding?
Do you think that perhaps the fact that your country maintains an illegal siege of Gaza (transforming it into the world’s biggest concentration camp) has something to do with their absolute inability to be prepared for the war crimes committed by your army? Do you think that maybe the people of Gaza should not be locked in their own land, unable to leave, and bombed into oblivion?
I am sorry that you and any other civilian need to run for shelter because of the “rocket” attacks from Gaza, but you at least have somewhere to run. You are not fish in a barrel, like the people of Gaza are.
In your unexplainable comment about the Nazis, you say that the number of victims is irrelevant. You are wrong; when we know that 7 of every 10 people killed by your government were civilians, it is considerably harder to feel that Israel is acting in a clean manner. Your army has high precision weaponry; they know that they are killing civilians, and they are willing to do it (including bombing a school); compare this with the 3 civilians killed in this conflict in the Israeli side, even when we know that the Iron Dome system does not work.
I don’t see why you’re bringing up ISIS and the events in Syria. Are you trying to say that because Muslims are terrorists then you should be able to do the same? Are you really saying that you’re setting your bar based on what a bunch of savages are willing to do? I have no interest in defending Hamas, Hezbollah, ISIS, Al Qaeda or whatever Islamic organization you want to bring up; I’m neither a Muslim nor an apologist for religion, let alone for their tactics.
I don’t care about your opinions on a personal level; the problem is that you are no longer a “person”, you are a public figure that has acquired fame and money by means of talking about peace in the region. Because of this position, you owe it to yourself, and especially to those who look up to you, to be honest about what your country is doing.
You say that you are musicians, and “above politics”. Then stop talking about peace. You have the power to rile up other Israelis and open their eyes to the atrocities committed in their name, and yet have chosen to stay silent while reaping the benefits of pretending to be “for” peace. You mention having received a prize with a Palestinian artist somehow proves your commitment to peace; well, how come you didn’t use that platform to denounce the war crimes of Israel, as denounced by Human Rights Watch or Amnesty International? Although I guess that showing your countrymen that not all Palestinians are terrorists is a good start, perhaps showing them the blood of children that is being spilled in their name would have been more useful.
Perhaps, to use your Nazi analogy, what you should have done was to use your position to tell your government that the holocaust was not supposed to be an instruction manual.
Note: My name is not Jon, nor do I live in the USA. Since everything is in English here, I understand the confusion.