Music stand

Five for Fighting pens October 7 ballad: ‘We are not OK’

Singer-songwriter John Ondrasik says his anti-Hamas protest song is a ‘moral message,’ and asks why ‘so many, particularly in the arts, remained deathly silent’

Amy Spiro is a reporter and writer with The Times of Israel

John Ondrasik aka Five for Fighting performs during the NHL All-Star Weekend at the Microsoft Theater on January 27, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images/AFP)
John Ondrasik aka Five for Fighting performs during the NHL All-Star Weekend at the Microsoft Theater on January 27, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images/AFP)

In the weeks following Hamas’s October 7 massacre in Israel, John Ondrasik – better known by his stage name, Five for Fighting – felt a need to speak out.

So he did so in the best way he knew how to – via music.

The Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter released his latest song, “OK,” last week, with lyrics denouncing those who refused to stand with Israel in the wake of the terror group’s devastating onslaught. The title may be “OK,” but the lyrics make it very clear: “We are not OK.”

“After the horrifying Hamas atrocities, I was disgusted with the moral relativism and clear antisemitism being displayed around the world in so many of our institutions, particularly the media, elite academia, the UN, and tragically in the US House of Representatives,” Ondrasik told The Times of Israel via email.

Ondrasik, who is not Jewish, said that his latest song “is a moral message, not a political one.”

But the music video features distressing footage of Hamas kidnapping and beating Israeli hostages, interspersed with clips of virulently antisemitic pro-Hamas rallies around the world, as well as US Rep. Rashida Tlaib ignoring questions about October 7, and the heads of Ivy League universities appearing at a now-infamous congressional hearing on antisemitism.

And in his trademark raspy falsetto, Ondrasik sings “evil’s on the march” as photos of Russian President Vladimir Putin, Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and UN chief Antonio Guterres flash on the screen. The song also begins with snippets of a speech from New York City Mayor Eric Adams on October 10: “We are not alright when we see young girls pulled from their home and dragged through the streets… We are not all right when right here in the city of New York, you have those who celebrate at the same time when the devastation is taking place.”

The opening lyrics of “OK” declare: “This is a time for choosing/ this is a time to mourn/ the moral man is losing/ forbidden, lost, forlorn.”

Ondrasik said the theme of the song “is a call to action to stand for good vs. evil, right vs. wrong, and call evil by name without ‘context’ or equivocation.”

This is far from his first protest song. Best known for his early 2000s hits “100 Years” and “Superman,” in 2022 he released “Can One Man Save The World,” an expression of support for Ukraine in the wake of Russia’s invasion, and, the previous year, “Blood on Our Hands,” which was critical of the handling of the US withdrawal from Afghanistan.

The question should not be, Ondrasik said, “why I have written a song about the biggest massacre of Jews since the Holocaust, with more than 100 men, women, and children still being held hostage. The question is why have so many, particularly in the arts, remained deathly silent.”

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