Popular Israeli singer wishes death to Obama in new song


The popular Israeli singer Amir Benayoun released a song that wishes for the death of President Barack Obama, whom he refers to as a “treacherous creature.”

Benayoun, who previously has been accused of racism and incitement, posted the song Monday on Facebook. He deleted it after receiving negative feedback on his page.

“I was glad to receive your responses to the song I posted. As an artist, it is important to me to express my opinions fully. But for now, I decided to consider your responses, which I appreciate, and take my thoughts, musings and songs … elsewhere,” he wrote on Facebook.

According to the Times of Israel, the song lyrics include passages such as “I bought myself a crow with a fabulous little mustache, even though there are many like those available for free, Because of my fondness for Obama, I’ll just say that I named him after the ugly president” and “the reason I bought a cruel crow was to try to inject this treacherous creature with a bit of heart, [but] in the meantime, I’ve lost an eye, I suffer from idiocy … and wish for the death of the corrupt creature.”

Last November, Benayoun was disinvited from a performance at President Reuven Rivlin’s official residence because of a recent song he had written called “Ahmed Loves Israel,” which calls an Arab-Israeli student “ungrateful scum.”

In a Facebook post in February, the mainstream Israeli artist compared Israel’s liberal politicians to the “devil.”

Bob Dylan ‘Like a Rolling Stone’ lyrics etch $2M at auction


Bob Dylan’s handwritten manuscript for “Like a Rolling Stone” sold for just over $2 million on Tuesday at Sotheby’s rock and roll auction, which also included memorabilia from the Beatles, the Rolling Stones and Elvis Presley.

The price for the annotated lyrics for “Like a Rolling Stone,” considered one of the most influential songs in postwar music, makes it the most expensive rock music sold at auction.

It shattered the previous record for rock music lyrics set in 2010 when John Lennon’s handwritten lyrics for “A Day in the Life,” the final track from the 1967 album “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” sold for $1.2 million, according to Sotheby’s.

The manuscript for Dylan’s “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall” fetched $485,000 at Sotheby’s first dedicated music history sale in more than a decade.

The 150 lots in the auction, which ranged in price from an estimated $200-$300 up $2 million for the Dylan manuscript, came from collectors and people who worked in the music industry.”

Curtain call — Stars and Stripes forever


In honor of the Fourth of July (this year the United States turns 231), YeLAdim feels like singing. Match the lyrics below to the patriotic song it comes from. Get some help from your mom or dad and then listen for the songs while you watch the fireworks.
(Quiz answers at the bottom of the page.)

1) “America the Beautiful”
2) “America”
3) “God Bless America”
4) “God Bless the U.S.A.”
5) “My Country, ‘Tis of Thee”
6) “The Star-Spangled Banner”
7) “This Is My Country”
8) “This Land Is Your Land”
9) “Yankee Doodle Dandy”
10) “You’re a Grand Old Flag”

a) And crown thy good with brotherhood.
b) And forever in peace may you wave.
c) A real live nephew of my Uncle Sam.
d) ‘Cause there ain’t no doubt I love this land.
e) California, to the New York Island.
f) From every mountainside, let freedom ring.
g) Gave proof thro’ the night that our flag was still there.
h) I pledge thee my allegiance, America, the bold.
i) Stand beside her, and guide her.
j) We huddle close; hang on to a dream.

Are you a fairy-tale fanatic? Is “the end” really just the beginning? Then the Santa Monica Playhouse has the show for you this summer. “And Awaaay We Go to Wonderland” is an interactive musical comedy where the audience gets to choose the ending to classic fairy tales like “Little Red Riding Hood,” “Jack and the Beanstalk” and “Sleeping Beauty.” The show plays weekends at 12:30 p.m. and 3 p.m. from now through Sept. 30. $10.50 (kids 12 and younger), $12.50 (adults). 1211 Fourth St., Santa Monica. For more information, visit

Bob Dylan: In His Own Lyrics


Torah References:

Oh God said to Abraham, “Kill me a son”

Abe says, “Man, you must be puttin’ me on”

God say, “No.” Abe say, “What?”

God say, “You can do what you want Abe, but

The next time you see me comin’ you better run:

Well Abe says, “Where do you want this killing’ done?”

God says, “Out on Highway 61.”

— From “Highway 61 Revisited” on the album, “Highway 61 Revisited” (1965)

Someone showed me a picture and I just laughed

Dignity never been photographed

I went into the red, went into the black

In the valley of dry bone dreams

…Sometimes I wonder what it’s gonna take

To find dignity

— From “Dignity” on the album, “Under the Red Sky” (1991)

Reference to Jewish Liturgy:

May God bless and keep you always

May your wishes all come true

May you always do for others

And let others do for you….

— From “Forever Young” on the album, “Planet Waves” (1973)

Christian Reference:

I was blinded by the devil

Born already ruined

Stone-cold dead

As I stepped out of the womb

By His grace I have been touched

By His word I have been healed

By His hand I’ve been delivered

By His spirit I’ve been sealed

— From “Saved” (with Tim Drummond) on the album, “Saved” (1980)

Allusions to Jesus:

You’re a man of the mountains, you can walk on the clouds

Manipulator of crowds, you’re a dream twister

You’re going to Sodom and Gomorrah

But what do you care?

Ain’t nobody there would want to marry your sister

Friend to the martyr, a friend to the woman of shame

You look into the fiery furnace, see the rich man without any name

— From “Jokerman” on the album, “Infidels” (1983)

Pro-Israel, Pro-Jewish Reference:

The neighborhood bully been driven out of every land

He’s wandered the earth an exiled man

Seen his family scattered, his people hounded and torn

He’s always on trial for just being born

He’s the neighborhood bully

— From “Neighborhood Bully” on the album, “Infidels” (1983)

On Social Justice:

Come you masters of war

You that build all the guns

You that build the death planes

You that build the big bombs

You that hide behind walls

You that hide behind desks

I just want you to know

I can see through your masks

— From “Masters of War” on the album, “The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan” (1963)

On Faith in God:

Father of grain, Father of wheat

Father of cold and Father of heat

Father of air and Father of trees

Who dwells in our hearts and our memories

Father of minutes, Father of days

Father of whom we most solemnly praise

— From “Father of Night” on the album, “New Morning” (1970)

Source: “Bob Dylan Lyrics 1962-2001” (Simon & Schuster, 2004)

 

Novel Tears Down a Sacred Shrine


“The Boy Who Loved Anne Frank: A Novel” by Ellen Feldman (W. W. Norton & Company, $23.95).

One of the more surprising moments in recent music history comes midway through the celebrated 1998 indie rock album, “In the Aeroplane Over the Sea,” by the band Neutral Milk Hotel. Hiding in an otherwise understated tune are some startling lyrics:

I know they buried her body with others.

Her sister and mother and five hundred families.

And will she remember me fifty years later?

I wish I could save her with some sort of time machine….

It is, as many a hipster could tell you, an album about Anne Frank. Its singer and lyricist was a shaggy-headed 27-year-old named Jeff Magnum. As far removed as his native Louisiana was from Amsterdam, his songs give the unmistakable impression that he is a man in love with a 15-year-old girl who had been murdered more than five decades earlier.

Magnum was hardly the first to wish he could save her. Because of the hold that “The Diary of a Young Girl” has long had on a certain subset of American youth, generations of readers and writers have attempted to revive her with their imaginations. The most notable performance of this shadow play came a quarter-century ago in Philip Roth’s strange little novel, “The Ghost Writer.” Setting his story late in the 1950s, Roth is able, through the figure of Nathan Zuckerman, to encounter a mysterious young woman who bears a striking resemblance to Anne Frank. She becomes for him the answer to all his ambivalence as a postwar Jew in America. He imagines marrying her, the Jewish martyr nonpareil, and writing home with proof that he is no self-hater: “Dear Folks: Anne is pregnant, and happier, she says, than she ever thought possible again.” It is vintage Roth in its skewering of pieties; who else would dare impregnate the ghost of a murdered child to show how perverse the sacralization of memory can be?

In the latest literary reappearance of Anne Frank’s diary, Ellen Feldman, in her new novel, “The Boy Who Loved Anne Frank,” imagines that a boy who shared Anne’s hiding place somehow managed to survive. As she explains in an author’s note, on a visit to the Anne Frank Huis in Amsterdam, she heard that young Peter van Pels was the only inhabitant of the secret annex whose fate is unknown. Of the eight people who hid there together, only Otto Frank is known to have lived to see the liberation of the camps; the dates and places of six of the others’ deaths appeared soon after the war in the records of the Red Cross. It’s very likely that Peter died on a forced march in 1945, but officially he remains the kind of question mark that begs for a story. What became of Peter, Feldman realized, could make for compelling, speculative fiction.

It could also make for gimmicky, sentimental, cult-of-holy-memory fiction, but Feldman manages to avoid such pitfalls. She does so, in a deceptively straightforward way, by allowing her salvaged character to tell his own story, proceeding from a few parameters set by the diary. If they made it out of the annex, Peter once told Anne, he would reinvent himself entirely.

“He said life would have been easier if he’d been Christian or could become one after the war,” Anne wrote.

From there, Feldman follows Peter as he leaves his past behind. Sent to Auschwitz along with the Franks and his parents, he survives to see the limbo of the displaced persons camps and then boards a boat to America. But his survival is only the start of the story.

The moment he sets foot in New York, he carries out the plan hatched in the annex: He ceases to be a Jew.

As Feldman tells it, Peter’s fictional life from then on might have followed the path of many passing stories: swift success, endless lies, a house in the suburbs — if not for the one overshadowing fact that the author leaves in place: the diary itself, dropped into the narrative like a bomb that quietly explodes one evening while he is in his big suburban home. His wife, a Jew who believes she is married to a non-Jew, selects as bedtime reading the recently released book full of all the memories he has kept from her.

At first he tries to ignore it, forgetting the diary just as he has forgotten the events it describes. But as Anne’s words become not just a book but also a cultural phenomenon — the play, the film, the sudden ubiquity of a girl he thought lost — Peter’s hidden past becomes the elephant in every room he enters. When at last he reads the words he had watched Anne write, he is overcome by them.

“When I was not reading it, I was thinking of it…” he says. “I was trapped in that book as I had been trapped in that house.”

The inevitable reckoning between Feldman’s speculation and the reality that inspired it begins when Peter hears of the liberties that were taken in the diary’s various adaptations. In one of the historical and scholarly epigraphs at the start of each chapter, we learn that the playwrights and producers of the dramatic production of Anne’s story, faced with a “sagging second act,” decided to invent conflict where there had been none. They made Peter’s father into a thief, a stealer of bread from the mouths of children. While he had done his best to forget his parents and their fate, this outright rewriting of history is too much for him to bear. It is against this backdrop that Peter van Pels, the boy who died in real life, sets out to confront Otto Frank, the man who, here and in history, survived to tell the tale.

Such seamless weaving of fact and fiction gives “The Boy Who Loved Anne Frank” tension to spare, making it a story of unexpected suspense — no small feat, given that the crimes that drive the plot occurred long before the action opens. It’s a page-turner motivated not by the usual whodunit but more meaningfully by questions: When will he speak? Will the revisers of history get away with it? How will the man who knows the truth admit it, knowing the cost?

The novel’s most effective moments come when Peter tries to make sense of what happened to the story of his life in hiding when it became not just his memory but the world’s. When he goes to see the Anne Frank film, he is at first put off by the invented details but then cannot help but be moved by the film, despite knowing how much of it is untrue. Particularly untrue, he finds, is the moral of the story, the words from the diary with which the movie ends. “In spite of everything,” the actress playing Anne says, “I still believe people are good at heart.”

With the credits rolling and that hopeful message hanging in the air, Feldman allows Peter a soliloquy of restrained disgust: “That was what the audience wanted. The triumph of the human spirit, as my wife called it. The reassurance that in spite of everything, of people going to their deaths by the millions merely for the accident of their birth, of other people willing and eager to pry gold fillings from their mouths before they shoveled them into ovens, of ghoulish experiments on unanesthetized individuals in the interest of medical science, of an entire people’s bloodthirsty complicity to cleanse the world of another entire people, despite all that, human beings are good at heart.”

By tearing down the shrine of simple hope and sacred memory that has been made of Anne Frank, Feldman has created a fiction that makes the facts of her story real again.

Though one selling point of this book surely will be the promise of a kind of reanimated Anne offered by the likes of Roth and Magnum, she is rarely mentioned directly. This is to Feldman’s credit. Her project is harder work, and she pulls it off.

Rather than bringing Anne back to life, the author brings her back to death. A half-century after a found diary made a murder victim into an icon, Feldman succeeds in acknowledging the role the story has played in the world, while allowing — finally — the girl who wrote it to rest.

This article appears courtesy The Forward.
Peter Manseau is co-author of “Killing the Buddha: A Heretic’s Bible”(The Free Press, 2004). His next book, “Vows,” will be published in the fall.

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The King of Israeli Hip-Hop


With angry lyrics that court controversy, two multiplatinum albums and a third on the way, his own clothing line, record label, legions of fans and glittering religious jewelry, Subliminal could easily be mistaken for a Jewish P.Diddy.

The lyrics are mostly in Hebrew (although he’s now branched into English, French and Arabic), the record label has spawned a plethora of new artists, the clothing line has a Star of David on every item and his fame (or notoriety) is bringing him to U.S. shores next week.

At 25, Subliminal (né Kobi Shimoni) is the king of Israeli hip-hop. And right now, it appears he can do no wrong. On March 2, Subliminal, along with his sidekick The Shadow (Yoav Eliasi), and 12 members off his record label TACT (Tel Aviv CityTeam) under the banner of Architects of Israeli Hip Hop, will kick off their seven-state American and Canadian tour at The Canyon Club in Agoura Hills.

And with the recent launch of his third album — TACT All-Stars — Subliminal is recording with the industry’s cream of the crop, including Killah Priest and Remedy of Wu-Tang Clan, Ashanti, Wyclef Jean and Israel’s own hip-hop violinist Miri Ben Ari, who just won a Grammy for her work with Kanye West.

So it’s hard to believe that less than eight months ago Subliminal was officially uninvited to the Prospect Park bash in Brooklyn, N.Y., by JDub Records, a nonprofit Jewish record label. Deemed too right-wing for the event, Subliminal apparently didn’t fall under the concert’s banner of “openness and peace.”

Certainly, Subliminal’s lyrics did much to raise eyebrows even within Israel, where there has always been room for political dissension. He managed to capture the frustrations and fears of Israeli youth at the height of the Intifada. His lyrics included such gems as:

To think that an olive branch symbolizes peace, sorry it doesn’t live here anymore; it’s been kidnapped or murdered….”

And perhaps his most controversial lyric is the one that states, “The country’s still dangling like a cigarette in Arafat’s mouth.”

It’s this kind of in-your-face, pull-no-punches attitude that sets Subliminal apart from other emerging hip-hop artists, including Mookee and Hadag Nachash, all of whom are enjoying success in the field. But neither has aroused the controversy that Subliminal has.

Now he’s mulling over the strange twists and turns that have come with his fame and, yes, fortune. On the brink of his U.S. tour, he cannot help but reflect on the fact that it’s due to the backing provided by Israel’s Foreign Ministry, and the prime minister himself.

“It’s great,” he said. “For the first time, the Israeli government is pushing us and supporting us. We’re being sent as ambassadors for Israel. And even though that’s what we’re trying to be on a daily basis, to get official support from the government, that’s a huge recognition and we’re really grateful for that.”

In the wake of Arafat’s death (no more dangling cigarettes), the upcoming Gaza pullout and the steps Mahmoud Abbas is making, Subliminal said, “I’m very, very happy that there’s this first chance finally for peace, for the Palestinians, they’re making a real effort and they have a chance to become a democracy.”

He also spoke about his first two albums “The Light From Zion” and “Light and Shadow” — released at the height of the Intifada — which include songs that state, “United we stand, divided we fall.”

“It’s militant,” he conceded. “We’re saying we have to have peace but first we have to live, we have to survive, to remain in one piece.”

Now, he said, his third album is much more hopeful, with softer lyrics and a stronger message of hope with one of the songs titled “Peace in the Middle East,” which is sung in both Hebrew and English.

“It’s more of a prayer,” he said. “We want people all over the world to understand that even the strongest soldiers have peace as the prayer in their heart all the time.”

Yet while Subliminal has raised both eyebrows and consciences, it has much to do with the fact that he’s coming from a deeply personal place.

“My father is from Tunisia, my mother from Iran. They both escaped persecution,” he said. “I was brought up in a world where I have my own country. But I understand Arabic, my parents speak fluent Arabic; we would hear Arafat’s speeches about driving the Jews into the sea.”

And it’s this that makes Subliminal’s messages so strident. A recent trip to France opened his eyes to the amount of hate outsiders have toward Israel.

“The strongest hip-hop artists in France are immigrants from Tunisia, Morocco and Algeria, and most of them preach hate toward the Jewish people and Israel,” he said.

In his own controversial style, Subliminal actually challenged Sniper, the biggest French anti-Semitic and anti-Israel rapper, to an onstage “battle” where the artists respond to each other’s raps.

“He chickened out,” Subliminal said, “and we even invited him to Tel Aviv just so that he could see what it is he hates so much about Israel.”And that, he said, is the biggest challenge of this tour: “To deliver the important message to those who are radical and fanatic and extreme. To open their eyes and let them know that there is still hope for peace, that there can be no better solution than peace and that we’re willing to open up a debate. Through hip hop we can do that.”

Subliminal performs March 2, 8 p.m., at The Canyon Club, 28912 Roadside Drive, Agoura Hills. For more info, call (310) 273-2824 or visit

He Sang/She Sang


Take one part Aimee Mann, one part Pete Yorn, stir in some Tori Amos and add a dash of Yiddishkayt and you’ve got two of the newest sounds in rock.

The brooding but sweet Ben Arthur and the edgy yet fun Jennifer Marks will give L.A.’s book lovers a vocal treat when they perform on the Starbucks Stage at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books at UCLA on April 24 and 25. The two will also autograph their respective CDs at The Jewish Journal’s festival booth.

"Most of my material comes from a place where the most grim and difficult sentiments lurk under a catchy melody," Virginia-raised Arthur said.

The melancholy performer has opened for Bruce Hornsby and Shawn Colvin and played with Dave Mathews.

His morbid title track, "Edible Darling," pontificates about a friend who raises pigs to eat them: "The most beautiful angel/Is the angel of death/Vinegar-throated/Confused and bereft." "Keep Me Around," is a Zevonesque, tongue-in-cheek takeoff on "Weekend at Bernie’s," featuring a corpse that begs to hang out at the house.

"I tend to be into lush images," Arthur said. "I don’t like songs that are too specific, too literal, with just a single meaning."

Marks comes in at a slightly different key. The New York University music business major was inspired by the Annie Lennox/Aretha Franklin anthem, "Sisters Are Doin’ It for Themselves," and went on to produce several albums independently.

The Long Island redhead’s humor shines through in her lyrics and album titles — her 2000 album is titled, "My Name Is Not Red." Her songs have been featured on the soap, "As the World Turns," and on a few indie film soundtracks.

"I didn’t even realize you could be a songwriter for a living until I was 17 or 18 years old," said Marks, who has won several prestigious songwriting contests in the past few years, including the USA Songwriting Contest and the Great American Song Contest.

Referring to her years of hard work, Marks said, "You don’t just wake up and write a song."

Ben Arthur will perform April 24 at 3 p.m. and April 25 at 4 p.m. Jennifer Marks will perform April 24 at 4 p.m and April 25 at 3 p.m. The two will sign autographs at The Jewish Journal booth from 5-6 p.m. on April 24 and will make periodic appearances on April 25 from 1-3 p.m.

Long-Hair Music Gets Kid’sBuzz Cut in ‘Beethoven’s Wig’


Move over Baby Mozart and Baby Bach. If you really want your children to learn the classics — and know the composer’s name to boot — check out “Beethoven’s Wig, Sing Along Symphonies.” The Grammy-nominated release by Richard Perlmutter adds witty lyrics to some of classical music’s best-loved pieces.

The CD’s title, for example, is from the lyrics set to the opening notes of Beethoven’s 5th Symphony: “Beethoven’s wig, is very big.” And while the lyrics are fun for children, adults will appreciate the droll humor. Regarding the finger speed of pianist Franz Liszt, Perlmutter croons that Liszt “could play the minute waltz so quickly that he’d end in 30 seconds flat.”

Last month, Perlmutter released a follow-up album, “Beethoven’s Wig II, More Sing Along Symphonies,” which proves equally amusing and addicting. Listen a few times and you’ll find yourself singing along with such lyrics as those accompanying Mendelssohn’s Wedding March: “Oh, what a wedding cake, it stands over six stories high….” In both CD’s, the sing-along versions are followed by orchestral versions without lyrics.

As a child, Perlmutter built his own guitar (“It was pretty bad,” he admitted) and later worked as a song leader at Stephen S. Wise Temple and other area synagogues in the 1980s. Perlmutter, who has produced several albums for children, was educated at the business and architecture schools at Yale.

“Music didn’t seem like the type of thing you could do as a career,” he said. Looks like he’s turned that theory on its head.

Selections from “Beethoven’s Wig” will be performed at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books at UCLA, Reading by 9 Stage, on Saturday, April 24, at 12:30 p.m., and Sunday, April 25, at 1:30 p.m.

For more information, visit www.beethovenswig.com .

Livin’ La


Singer-songwriter Diex sees himself as an ambassador, a
bridge between the unlikely worlds of the prayer filled synagogues and the
groove-shaking beats of J Lo, Enrique Iglesias and Ricky Martin.

Since he moved to Los Angeles from Buenos Aires 18 months
ago, Diex’s reggae and jazz-tinged Latin melodies like “Desde Aca” (From Here)
and “Cuidad De Nostalgia” (City of Nostalgia) have been stealthily invading
college and noncommercial radio stations across the country. And while the
musical influences of his catchy songs come from Anglo and Latino songwriters
like the Beatles, Oasis, Fito Paez and Charles Garcia, it is also his Jewish
roots and his work as a musical arranger for synagogues in Argentina and Los
Angeles that inspires Diex.

“My mother is a singer who sings tango in Yiddish,” said
Diex, 30, who is known to his mother as Diego Goldfarb. “I have a lot of
melodies in my mind from her singing. I also like the Sephardi stuff — the
rhythm and percussions of Mizrachi music.”

Snatches of synagogue melodies too have insinuated
themselves into  Diex’s music. When he was 20, Diex started a decade long stint
as musical director in different synagogues. In Los Angeles, he worked at
Temple Etz Chayim in Thousand Oaks, but he says the American style of synagogue
music is too conservative for his tastes.

“I was more used to the Latin style with everyone singing,”
he said. “It is more messy, and more happy for my ears.”

Now Diex sees himself as a world citizen, a person whose
roots come from more than one place. His songs have a playful ambiguity about
them that reflect his roving identity and musical tastes, and he is not worried
that he sings in a language that many Americans don’t understand.

“Even if people don’t know what I am saying in the song,
they know that it is a love song or whatever,” he said. “I think there is
something international about music, and even without knowing the lyrics,
people can still feel the music.”

Diex will be performing at the Latin-Alternative Holiday
Party on Dec. 19 at the Alterknit Lounge in The Knitting Factory, 7021
Hollywood Blvd., at 9 p.m. $10. For tickets, call (323) 463-0204. He will also
be performing on Dec. 26 at Fusion at Club Good Hurt, 12249 Venice Blvd., Los Angeles,
at 11 p.m. (310) 390-1076.

For more information go to www.diexmusic.com .

Hate Rock


The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) issued a list of bands that promote racist, bigoted or hateful ideas. The list Bigots Who Rock: An ADL List of Hate Music Groups identifies 541 bands, primarily based in the United States and Europe, that use hate-filled lyrics or have active links to organized hate groups.

The list is available at the ADL’s Web site, www.adl.org, along with Links to additional information on the hate music scene, extremist groups and the burgeoning hate recording industry. The list was issued on the eve of what the ADL describes as one of the largest annual hate music festivals in the United States, Hammerfest 2001, which is scheduled to take place Oct. 27-28 at an undisclosed location. It is the third annual festival sponsored by Hammerskin Nation, a neo-Nazi group that uses hardcore music as a vehicle for white supremacist beliefs. — Jewish Telegraphic Agency