Jerusalem Post Interview
By Daniel Ben-Tal
1.Tell me how your career has brought you to this point.
went busking, singing my songs and stories on the streets, playing
with many different people as I’ve traveled, through
Europe, China, West Africa, South Africa, Australia, USA, I worked
as a Musical Clown
and Fire-eater with a Mexican Circus, an Azteca family we traveled in
small mountain villages, tobacco plantations etc down the pacific coast.
I have been able to survive by playing music full time these last years,
which is a privilege, doing something I enjoy and being able to pay the
rent and eat well.
2. You've played in so many countries - what are the main differences
and what do they have in common?
Obviously Peoples Languages differ and accents, we have different words
for the same things, and I like that, richness. Accents, we all have
them, they are just a different way of singing when we talk. We also
have our different histories, and her-stories, Climate and environment
also seems to affect our natures and personalities, what we wear and
if we leave doors and windows open or if we wrap our selves and our bodies
up, that must affect our personality, make us behave differently; extroverted,
introverted, it affects the way we talk too. Folks who live in a windy
place like the ORKNEY Islands north of Scotland talk with an accented
higher tone at the end of a sentence so that their voice can cuts through
the screaming winds that blow there, others may talk with their teeth
closed slightly to stop wind or dust entering their mouths! So weather
can create an accent.
I’ve noticed that Some Rich countries waste very much. Food, and
resources I’ve seen people throw perfectly good things in the garbage.
Other countries, like China and Cuba and Afghanistan I found are very
resourceful, waste nothing, everything is used, rationed and recycled.
In some countries Buckets and shoes are made of old bald rubber truck
China has many many mouths to feed and you are never alone in China,
there’s always someone who will pop up from the middle of a field
in the middle of nowhere and say “hello” (Nee-har) That seems
to make them very socialised people, in a way as there’s not so
much personal space per person, not so much privacy, maybe also they
aren’t used to being alone for long.
But we, people all have much in common, family, and life, death birth
etc. Also struggles. But even in one country it seems to me that no two
people are alike, there are many opposites. Different tastes, different
journeys, pasts, desires. We have different needs. I like diversity.
I celebrate those differences they are what make each of us unique and
We all need to eat, drink and have shelter.
We may all speak different languages and tongues but we all have our
own story to tell or to sing in that language. That makes our languages
and us richer.
3. The inevitable question - aren't you scared about
coming to Israel?
I’m not as scared as, my partner is scared for
me. We have a three-year-Old boy called Solly (named after my Grandpa)
who is growing
fast, I love watching him learn and develop, and we are very pregnant,
I’ve made Solly a song about becoming a big brother. Aimee is
expecting our second baby very soon, in June. We are extra sensitive
about peoples cruelty and hatred and Anger, especially at this time
of cruel war, all Life becomes even more precious when you become a
parent and especially when we are expecting a second baby together
and Aimee is the one who is going to be left behind.
I will come open-minded, as I am always curious to see
other countries and see how folks live, and I have always had to see
things for myself…with
my own eyes.
We never know if we’re going to be in the Right place
at the wrong time,
The wrong place at the right time
The right place but with the wrong people,
or the wrong place but with the right people,
We never know where our feet will lead us…. that’s what makes
I don’t want to live forever but I would like to live long enough
to see my Kids grow up and have kids themselves. I suppose I’m
a bit selfish like that!
Also I’ve never liked loud bangs!
Of course I’d like to see the people get out of war altogether
and leave the whole feud to private industry.
am frightened for all people in this war you have in ‘Israel-Palestine’,
knowing that there are injustices, and apartheid exists, any form of
racism, all forms of colonialism, repression and dispossession frighten
me because I know that where those things exist, there will always be
war, people resist, Some folks become desperate as they have nothing
to lose, violence breeds violence and violence scares me. It’s
as if War can only be abolished through war!
Like most wars it is the innocent victims, the poor,
who seem to be hurt and it is always the poor and jobless who are sent
out to fight and
carry out their Governments orders. We have racism and in Britain,
also has a colonial history of genocide, cruelty etc, We were in
Northern Ireland for the British Empire, in Africa for gold, diamonds,
I think everyone will be fighting for water next. We all need water. ….
More than we need oil!
4. I understand that you Grandmother was Jewish - do you feel any spiritual
Yes, but not in a religious sense. She loved life, had a hard life,
she was a survivor, she loved to dance, which is how she met my grandpa,
they were dancing partners. I sing a song I made for her, a latinesque
dance-story. called 'The Wind is getting Stronger.'
She was always very fit, touching her toes even at 78
years. She showed me and my brother how she could throw up and catch
a Diablo on a piece
of string and, we all saw her score 3 out of three goals in basket ball
while picnicking in a park, she used to be a netball shooter as a girl
and obviously hadn’t lost the skill!
I feel a Spiritual connection to my Grandma and her past. I’m proud
of her. My mum and dad ran away to get married because my dad wasn’t
Jewish, he is Scottish. I wasn’t brought up in any faith or religion.
My mum was excommunicated from her family in a way at first, but then
she had us kids and, well, there was forgiveness, though there was always
an affectionate teasing from my dad.
I did meet other more distant relatives in the family. We had many uncles
and Aunties, as both my Grandma and Grandpa had many brothers and sisters,
and so I was always being introduced to relatives, cousins etc at weddings
and Bar mitzvahs who I didn’t see at any other time very often.
I didn’t have a bar mitzvah myself and as I said before, I wasn’t
brought up in any faith.
My Grandma was born in Russia, a Russian Jew; I feel a connection to
my ancestors in that respect, of being immigrants, family history etc.
My Grandma was brought up in East London from 8 months old as a baby.
She was the eldest of 12 Kids, a couple of her brothers did acrobatics,
human pyramids, one of her brothers my great uncle Joe was a wrestler,
an amateur wrestler, which meant when he won a fight he didn’t
get money, he got silver ware and cut glass etc. He fought under the
name of Joe Gold.
My Grandma spoke Yiddish and we ate some Jewish Cooking, The first food
I ever learned to cook age 7, was Egg and Matza. I learned to make a
good Chopped Liver from my Grandma and my mum, but Aimee, my partner,
is a vegetarian! So, as much as I might crave for it once in a while,
I don't make it very often.
I feel a spiritual connection to all peoples.
Can music heal the planet?
I believe music is healing; it can strengthen us and help us to express
sadness, joy and anger, and brings us together which are healing in
I think if people are hungry for food, they need food, if homeless
they need shelter, and clothes. If they are unloved they need love.
have these basic things then I think music can begin to heal and enrich
Some music or songs we make and sing would help to liberate us from
that dark hole of despair and help us to raise ourselves to dance and
and infect each other with the lust for life and give us hope. I’ve
played with musicians whose language I couldn’t speak, we made
each other laugh, took each other on journeys in those rhythms and
melodies. Dance can do the same. Feeding someone, cooking them a meal
that act…is ancient nourishing someone whose tongue you may not
understand. Eating food, breaking bread together…that’s
a sacred act I believe. A game of Chess or Football or whatever game
folks from different nations…I’ve played, you know the
basic rules of the game…you’re having fun, exhilarated,
energized, you are sharing something together…and after the game…then
you have that shared experience…a good experience, not a bad
is precious. Music has the same effect. How we share it together and
listen…like a dialogue we have with each other…listening…not
just trying to be the loudest and have your say, not seeing who is
clever and can play the fastest but listening to get the soul, and
spirit of the song singing music dancing.
met Ariel Sharon, what would you say to him?
I would like to ask questions.
When I ask him questions I’d probably show my ignorance of the
situation in ‘Israel’-or ‘Palestine’. See even
then I don’t know if I’m using the right or wrong words…I
do know that The ‘Names’ you use for a country or Nation
It is the same in Northern Ireland. So I don’t know how lightly
I should tread here…anyway
for years I’ve heard news of the war, the plight of Palestinians,
the violence the tragic deaths of innocent peoples on all sides, the
terrible loss and waste of lives. We see the violence on Television;
it is very strange when the brutality of war is brought from far away
into the comfort of your living room! It is real but…it is not…it’s
TV. …but it is real! Very strange. Very difficult to know the truth,
we all have our own truths too, that complicates things.
Here are some provocative questions I would like to ask. And in asking
I would take on the role of a ‘Devils Advocate’ here.
Please, Mr. Ariel Sharon Why have you taken Land that doesn’t
belong to you?
Are there not Palestinian farmers who have the need of going back to their
land and to work in it?
Is there a need for their Roads to be opened and also their water wells?
2. Mr. Ariel Sharon
Black Civil Rights leader Martin Luther King said:
‘ Our Scientific power has outrun our Spiritual power. We have guided missiles
but misguided men.’
As many believe, the United Nations should be allowed to investigate Saddam’s
Iraq for weapons of mass destruction, should the United Nations be allowed
to investigate ‘Israel’s’ Nuclear and chemical weapons,
capability for the safety of all peoples living in the country?
Should there be A Palestinian state?
Didn’t Jewish ancestors live in large numbers in the Holy Land
long before Zionists arrived and provoked the native Muslim population?
Didn’t they live at peace with their non Jewish neighbors who have
lived here for thousands of years?
Was it not after the immigration began, which sought political rule that
At first didn’t it endanger the old Jewish inhabitants of the Holy
Land? Then later endanger the millions who live there now?
Should contemporary political sovereignty over the Holy Land belong to
those who have lived there for centuries, the Palestinians? If they would
be disposed to allow some Jewish communities to live peacefully in their
midst should that be entirely their decision, not yours?
Does Mr. Sharon believe that the crimes of Israel have distorted the
image of Judaism?
Someone once said: ‘An empire founded on war has to maintain itself
by war.’ Do you think this is true of Israel?
For years, we have heard how, first Israelis have to fight a bit, and
then Israel will be a safe haven for Jews. It hasn't happened.
I would like to please ask Ariel Sharon:
How many wars are needed? How many deaths till we say that too many
people have died, until we are willing to admit that it was a lie,
lie? A false guarantee that delivered the reverse of what it promised?
Should there be courses on How Israelis are to Conduct Dialogue with
And courses on How Palestinians are to Conduct Dialogue with the Israelis?
Would these courses be separate?