Reading of Bob Dylan lyrics at ceremony for fallen IDF soldiers sparks outrage

Lyrics of Dylan's anti-war song "Masters of War" read at Remembrance Day ceremony at Oranim Academic College.

April 22, 2015 14:32
4 minute read.
Bob Dylan

Bob Dylan performs with his band at the 34th annual New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, April 25, 2003. . (photo credit: REUTERS)


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The reading of a Bob Dylan anti-war protest song during Tuesday's Remembrance Day ceremony at Oranim Academic College in Kiryat Tivon has sparked outrage among some students at the institution.

The song, "Masters of War," released on Dylan's "Freewheelin' Bob Dylan album that came out in 1963, spoke out against the US and Soviet Union's arms build-up in the early 1960s. Dylan's words against those who send youth to die in war was slammed as incitement by some at the college.

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Students who attended the ceremony took to Facebook to express their anger at the reciting of the song's lyrics. "It is not right or proper to read a song like this at a ceremony for fallen IDF soldiers and I speak in the name of many students who were really hurt that you decided to end such an important ceremony in this way."

Another student at the college wrote: "Dear students, go out in your masses to protest the college's shameful students' organization."

Another complainant held that the song advocated the use of violence against generals.

The Oranim Student Union issued a clarification following the ceremony: "The Student Union thinks it right to clarify some of the things that were said at the ceremony...this is a song that Bob Dylan wrote nearly six decades ago. The song, clearly, represents anti-war positions and is not a call to violence, partisanship or incitement. The song expresses the feelings of a wide sector of the Israeli society and the feelings of many people in general. It is legitimate in its nature, and we must not interpret it as hostile, violent, needlessly provocative or even as an anti-establishment statement - not against IDF soldiers, not against a certain political party, and not against any public figures...we apologize to those who were hurt by the songs lyrics, but the Union stresses again, the song is merely a crying out against war itself."

Oranim Academic College said in response that "the Oranim Student Union organized and produced the Remembrance Day ceremony this year, as it does every year, and the college management respects freedom of speech and does not censor the Union. At the same time, given the great importance of this difficult day for all of us, as part of the continuing work of the college management and the students, we will learn together the needed educational and moral lessons, in an open dialogue that enables everyone expression and safe discussion. Through this framework we will understand the need to find the balance between the desire to hold a meaningful ceremony in a creative manner and the necessity of preserving the right of the mourning public to mark this day without feeling that the memories of the fallen are being hurt."

The lyrics of the song "Masters Of War":

Come you masters of war
You that build all the guns
You that build the death planes
You that build all the bombs
You that hide behind walls
You that hide behind desks
I just want you to know
I can see through your masks.

You that never done nothin'
But build to destroy
You play with my world
Like it's your little toy
You put a gun in my hand
And you hide from my eyes
And you turn and run farther
When the fast bullets fly.

Like Judas of old
You lie and deceive
A world war can be won
You want me to believe
But I see through your eyes
And I see through your brain
Like I see through the water
That runs down my drain.

You fasten all the triggers
For the others to fire
Then you set back and watch
When the death count gets higher
You hide in your mansion'
As young people's blood
Flows out of their bodies
And is buried in the mud.

You've thrown the worst fear
That can ever be hurled
Fear to bring children
Into the world
For threatening my baby
Unborn and unnamed
You ain't worth the blood
That runs in your veins.

How much do I know
To talk out of turn
You might say that I'm young
You might say I'm unlearned
But there's one thing I know
Though I'm younger than you
That even Jesus would never
Forgive what you do.

Let me ask you one question
Is your money that good
Will it buy you forgiveness
Do you think that it could
I think you will find
When your death takes its toll
All the money you made
Will never buy back your soul.

And I hope that you die
And your death'll come soon
I will follow your casket
In the pale afternoon
And I'll watch while you're lowered
Down to your deathbed
And I'll stand over your grave
'Til I'm sure that you're dead.

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