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Friday, July 23, 2010

[The following, by Ben Cohen, is crossposted from Z Word.]

Over at the consistently excellent CST blog, Mark Gardner reports on a telling moment at the Palestine International Festival in Ramallah. When 70s disco icons Boney M got up to do their thing, organizers of the festival asked them not to perform their traditional floorfiller, a cover of The Melodians number, "By the Rivers of Babylon." Why? Because the song contains the words of Psalm 137: "Yea we wept/When we remembered Zion."

Mark writes:

Its not a sex thing or a sexism thing because "Bang Bang Lulu", "Baby do You Wanna Bump", "Gloria, Can you Waddle" and "Love for Sale" were ok.

Its not a colour thing or a nationalist thing, because "Brown Girl in the Ring", "White Christmas" and "Ra Ra Rasputin" were ok.

Its not a Christian or even a Voodoo thing, because "Mary's Boy Child", "Hark the Herald Angel" and "Voodoonight" were ok.

It's not an artistic merit thing, nor a flares thing, nor a...I could go on...but lets cut to the serious bit. It was a Jewish thing. Not a political thing, nor even an anti-Zionist thing, but a Jewish thing: or rather, an anti-Jewish thing.

It is one thing to demand a boycott of Israel, but it is quite another to demand a boycott of popular cultural references to the historical Jewish longing for Israel, or Zion.

Interestingly, the Jewish longing which Mark refers to, with its motifs of captivity, exile and redemption, has resonated powerfully with many black artists down the years. I have an extensive vinyl collection of classic roots and dub reggae albums from the 1970s; go through the track listings on any one of them and you are more than likely to find a song title containing the word "Zion." Sadly, this music is apparently now verboten for the Palestinians, courtesy of their culture guardians, who are obsessed with purging anything that might legitimize the Jewish connection to the land of Israel.

Here, then, is the original version of "By the Rivers of Babylon," by The Melodians. Enjoy.

[Martin Solomon adds: This here is my favorite version of the song, bar none.]

Listed below are links to blogs that reference this entry: Dread Zion.

TrackBack URL for this entry: http://www.solomonia.com/cgi-bin/mt4/mt-renamedtb.cgi/18374

I can't say I've ever been a big reggae fan, but one of my favorite albums of all time in any genre has to be the soundtrack to Jimmy Cliff's, The Harder They Come. I've never actually gotten around... Read More



"Syme: It's a beautiful thing, the destruction of words. You wouldn't have seen the [Newspeak] Dictionary 10th edition, would you Smith? It's that thick. [illustrates thickness with fingers] The 11th Edition will be that [narrows fingers] thick. Winston Smith: So, The Revolution will be complete when the language is perfect? Syme: The secret is to move from translation, to direct thought, to automatic response. No need for self-discipline. Language coming from here [the larynx], not from here [the brain]" -1984 (film)


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