Monday, January 05, 2009

Bob Dylan on Israel


Neighborhood
Bully
from "Infidels" 1983


Dylan wrote some pretty poignant lines about Israel's poor treatment on the world stage that ring true yet today.

Well, the neighborhood bully, he's just one man,His enemies say he's on their land.They got him outnumbered about a million to one,He got no place to escape to, no place to run.He's the neighborhood bully.

The neighborhood bully just lives to survive,He's criticized and condemned for being alive.He's not supposed to fight back, he's supposed to have thick skin,He's supposed to lay down and die when his door is kicked in.He's the neighborhood bully.

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.

Well, he knocked out a lynch mob, he was criticized,Old women condemned him, said he should apologize.Then he destroyed a bomb factory, nobody was glad.The bombs were meant for him.He was supposed to feel bad.He's the neighborhood bully.

Well, the chances are against it and the odds are slimThat he'll live by the rules that the world makes for him,'Cause there's a noose at his neck and a gun at his backAnd a license to kill him is given out to every maniac.He's the neighborhood bully.

He got no allies to really speak of.What he gets he must pay for, he don't get it out of love.He buys obsolete weapons and he won't be deniedBut no one sends flesh and blood to fight by his side.He's the neighborhood bully.

Well, he's surrounded by pacifists who all want peace,They pray for it nightly that the bloodshed must cease.Now, they wouldn't hurt a fly.To hurt one they would weep.They lay and they wait for this bully to fall asleep.He's the neighborhood bully.

Every empire that's enslaved him is gone,Egypt and Rome, even the great Babylon.He's made a garden of paradise in the desert sand,In bed with nobody, under no one's command.He's the neighborhood bully.

Now his holiest books have been trampled upon,No contract he signed was worth what it was written on.He took the crumbs of the world and he turned it into wealth,Took sickness and disease and he turned it into health.He's the neighborhood bully.

What's anybody indebted to him for?Nothin', they say.He just likes to cause war.Pride and prejudice and superstition indeed,They wait for this bully like a dog waits to feed.He's the neighborhood bully.

What has he done to wear so many scars?Does he change the course of rivers?Does he pollute the moon and stars?Neighborhood bully, standing on the hill,Running out the clock, time standing still,Neighborhood bully.

11 comments:

Meme said...

I don't think you read the lyrics very carefully, because Israel is ironicly called the bully, the lyrics are actually very pro Israel.

fishpolebob said...

I agree with Meme that this song is quite pro-Israel. Unfortunately, to the best of my knowledge, his Bobness has never played it live.

Richard Earl said...

I fully realize that it is pro- Israel. That is why I posted it. You cannot get this take in the media.

jas said...

Bob Dylan is not the most reliable guide to politics and current affairs. (Have you read the lyrics to Joey?)
Any way look at this one for now:
"He got no allies to really speak of"
Only the mighty USA which give's it 2 billion dollars a year, supports everything it does, vetoes UN resoltions which criticise Israel....need I go on.?
"He buys obsolete weapons and he won't be denied"
WTF ? Israel , courtesy Uncle Sam, has a mighty hi-tech Army.
"His enemies say he's on their land." Well yes , they do, and yes he is.

fishpolebob said...

jas: The discussion is about what Bob means--not your position on Israel. Stay on topic. Political discussions can get contentious.

inthealley said...

Fishpolebob - this WHOLE posting is contentious and political. Bob was at a pretty low ebb when he wrote this song, and his naivety on the subject of the rights and wrongs of Israel occupying the former Palestine is pretty irrelelevant when people are dying. A trite piece of work at best.

fishpolebob said...

inthealley: Bob was not naive. He was completely correct. What would any nation do if it was attacked by thousands of rockets? Unfortunately, people are dying because Hamas chooses to embed themselves in the population.

inthealley said...

curious fpb ...... I DIDN'T take sides (read it) but you presumed I did because You did .....

Richard Earl said...

What is happening in Israel and the Gaza Strip is horrible by any account. Death and destruction is always bad. We cannot expect the Israelis to stand by and be rocketed dozens of times a day form many months and do nothing. They have been left with few alternatives as the international community is aligned against them.
The essence of this song holds up well 25 years after it was written. Israel is portrayed as the bully while their security is threatened on a daily basis. The Palestainians cry foul, after they poke Israel in the eye. Even after the land for peace deals there is no let up to the torment.

Dovid said...

Thanks for posting Neighborhood Bully. Obviously, Bob was telescoping Israel's history into this song. Israel did, in fact, purchase and use obsolete weapons upon its founding in 1948. But his enemies still "have him outnumbered, 'bout a million to one'. Some things haven't changed. Please check out a song I've written called 'Sderot Town' here: http://www.kernersongs.com/SderotTownLyrics.htm

Laura Miller said...

I find it incredulous that people can still depict Israel as the victim in the crisis. Israel is the dominant, tyrannical force, in the area. That is a fact, not a poltiical position. It continues to jepordise is own peace by enslaving the Palstinian people with tyranical policies. Read a history book. You don't even need to read a revisionist one. The current behaviour of the Israeli's and its wealthy supportive allies (it is hardly a poor lone entity with no international recourse, as the Palestians are) always results in the type of resistance demonstrated by the Palestian people. And yes, throughout history there have always been those who have been brainwashed into believing the tyrant is the victim. Were Israel not useful to the US and Britain, it would be condemned for its behaviour to the Palestian people like the Sudanese government, like eventually the Rwandan government, like Zimbabwe.