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Lyric of the Week: THE SILENCE IS DEAFENING (2023)

You saw the images and heard the news

about massacre and war

And things that should shake any

decent person to the core

You told me once that you'd have my back

But I guess that's when the weather was fair

'Cause now that the sunshine has turned into a storm

You act like you just don't care

Oh, how the silence is deafening

Oh, how the silence is deafening

Oh, where's your sense of reckoning

Oh, how the silence is deafening

You make it your business to speak up and speak out

Demanding that people take sides

You raise your voice and shout yourself hoarse

About human rights and endangered lives

You wave every banner and march for every cause

About injustice all around the world

But where are you when it happens to us

Not a single word

Oh, how the silence is deafening

Oh, how the silence is deafening

Oh, your silence is so deafening

Oh, the silence is so deafening

You have the chance to make yourself heard

About things that will affect us all

To be a righteous voice in the wilderness

But you choose to make the wrong call

We'll remember the words of our enemies

And the silence of our supposed friends

Well now it looks like our so-called friendship

Is at an end

Oh, how the silence is deafening

Oh, your alliances are threatening

Oh, there'll be a day of reckoning

Oh, how your silence is deafening

©2023 The Hesh Inc.

This song is a rewrite of a song I had previously written about Billy Joel's concert in the Soviet Union in 1987, during which he chose to avoid saying anything about the situation of Soviet Jewry. I regarded it and still regard it as one of my best songs to date, but after the USSR fell in 1991, the subject matter became moot.

I had tried making several rewrites over the years, attempting to update it with some lyrics about some new incident that outraged me ... but nothing ever worked. I continued to perform it live, though, introducing it by telling the audience of its history and of their obligation to speak up if they see some injustice being committed. And that's the way I pretty much left it. And then the massacre, by terrorist group Hamas, of Jews in Israel happened on October 7, 2023. The images that the terrorists themselves broadcast throughout the world told all that anyone needed to know. While there was a welcome outpouring of sympathy from right-minded people, the silence of others spoke a lot louder. For myself, I was astonished at how many of my friends—those with whom I had been in regularly in contact with before this massacre and subsequent war began—mysteriously went silent. Others, with whom I had been on the same page politically (and musically) for years, stated that they didn't care for what was going on in Israel because it didn't affect them and their little corner of America. Yet others, who spent their whole lives marching for every liberal/progressive cause under the sun, suddenly couldn't find the words or spare the effort when it came to Jews in Israel. It is for all these, and then some, that I wrote the new lyrics.

(And don't get me started on what subsequently happened, with the ugly monster of plain old antisemitism rearing its cursed head in the form of thousands of 'protests' and incidents around the globe, blaming the victim for his own misfortune and painting him as the aggressor. That will be for a different song—and they will get theirs.)

May Israel be victorious in utterly crushing the Hamas menace and removing it from the earth, forever. May the memories of all those brutally murdered be for a blessing. May all the captives taken by the terrorists be liberated. And may all those who have kept silent find their words ... and their hearts and souls ... on the right side of this: that of Israel, of the Jews, of justice, truth, and peace.


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