Religious Jewish Wedding Songs Are Anthems of Hatred and Incitement

In the background of the horrific video where the Dawabsheh murders were celebrated are songs glorifying murder that are commonplace at Orthodox weddings, and not just at the extreme and negligible margins of Israeli society.

Michael Melchior
Michael Melchior
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This still from the video of a wedding among right-wing activists shows dancers brandishing rifles, a twist on traditional wedding dances.
This still from the video of a wedding among right-wing activists shows dancers brandishing rifles, a twist on traditional wedding dances.Credit: Courtesy of Channel 10 TV
Michael Melchior
Michael Melchior

In addition to the horrific acts that took place at the radical settler wedding which is dominating the news, for which we all feel disgust, I would like to draw attention to the music we can hear in the background of the video.

The song the band is playing is not only sung at weddings of Jewish extremists or at the bar mitzvah celebration of one rotten apple. The same song is played incessantly at almost every public wedding and bar mitzvah of the religious Zionist, Haredi or Chabad community that I have attended.

I hear these words and am filled with dread :

"Remember me, remember me, and strengthen me, only this once, Oh G-d, that I may take revenge on the Philistines for my two eyes".

These are the words that Samson said right before he felled the two middle pillars of the Temple of Dagon, killing himself together with the multitude of Philistines there with him.

One need not be a great Torah commentator to understand that the words, originally said in despair, express a readiness to be killed, if, by our deaths, many Palestinians will die with us.

Every time I hear that song played I leave the circle of dancing and I protest. For years now I have been crying out against the playing of this song, just as I cried out about how religious Zionists would place special emphasis on the words, "Baruch Hagever" (literal translation: "blessed is the man"), in another well-known song, in order to honor the memory of Baruch Goldstein, who committed the 1994 massacre at the Cave of the Patriarchs.

Of all the beautiful words written in the Torah and in the Bible, these are the words deserving an honored place at our public events? I am waiting for the talented artists of the religious community to compose a tune using the Biblical phrase, "...when you see the naked, you will cover him...", or to renew the popular song from my youth, "Love thy neighbor as thyself".

The soundtrack of hatred cannot be dismissed with the argument that it's just an example of only the extreme and negligible margins of society. Here, here, is where all of us must do some true soul searching.

Rabbi Michael Melchior is a former government minister and member of the Knesset.

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