Orphaned in the Land of Milk and Honey: Israel’s Arab Spring

2013_0205_anim_concert_m[1]As Rai Ben Yehudah, Professor of Conflict Resolution, put it, “the story of an Israeli band Orphaned Land’s surprising success in the Muslim and Arab world rests on three pillars: music, examples of cooperation and community.”

Orphaned Land was formed in 1991, and it’s musical message is about peace. Their style is a combination of melodies from Eastern Europe and the Middle East.

The album that has drawn a large amount of publicity is Mabool. It is fictional, telling a story of three sons who are angels representing Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. God forbids them from uniting, for fear of their strength. Ignoring the order, they unite into one angel. They’re immediately exiled from heaven to earth, and then divided into three, sentenced to fight each other until they can prove themselves and get back into heaven. The angels try to convince humanity to stop their sins, and warn of an upcoming flood if they do not.

What makes Orphaned Land stand out is its appeal to fans in Arab and Muslim countries. Many of these fans wear tatoos with the band’s name on their arms. The Internet and social media has opened up a world for them that was unheard of for their elders. But as Kobi Farhi, Orphaned Land’s lead singer put it, “how bizarre that an Israeli band has a huge stream of followers coming from the countries of enemies. It shows music as a weapon that unites people. It may sound like hippy crap, but I come from a place where I have to raise kids that will go into the Army to fight terrorists who are coming to kill them. We are trying to change that, and we are trying to change that with music.”

Two significant developments demonstrate the appeal of the band’s message. First, being featured on the cover of an Iranian rock music publication, Diovan, in 2010. The other is a petition being circulated by fans from Turkey, Syria, Iran, Palestinian territories, Lebanon, Morocco, Dubai, Yemen, as well as Israel,  to award Orphaned Land the 2013 Nobel Peace Prize.

See the YouTube link below to one interview with Kobi Farhi, as well as the Facebook page of fans in Syria.



Barry Dwork, author and owner of Peace of Music, October 29, 2011-Present. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from Barry Dwork is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Barry Dwork and Peace of Music with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.