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Jewish rocker sings Israel support

With ‘Maximum Restraint’ Peter Himmelman challenges criticism of Israel’s response to Hamas terror

Renee Ghert-Zand is a reporter and feature writer for The Times of Israel.

Jewish rocker Peter Himmelman has written a new song in support of Israel in its conflict with Hamas. (Photo credit: Jim Hershleder)
Jewish rocker Peter Himmelman has written a new song in support of Israel in its conflict with Hamas. (Photo credit: Jim Hershleder)

Los Angeles-based Jewish rocker Peter Himmelman has released a new song in support of Israel’s right to defend itself against Hamas terror from Gaza. “Maximum Restraint” challenges claims Israel is responding disproportionately in the current conflict.

According to Himmelman, people “sitting in Santa Monica sipping lattes” are in no place to judge Israel’s response to Hamas rockets.

“It’s a disingenuous fantasy to think that Jews should just turn the other cheek. For Jews, turning the other cheek is a sin,” he says.

In explaining the threat Israel faces, Himmelman uses the analogy of people’s locking their front door when they go to bed. “When someone breaks in to your house, you call 911, not your mom. The people who come have guns and that sometimes leads to gore on the kitchen floor,” he says.

Himmelman expresses his frustration with criticism of Israel’s response to Hamas in the chorus of his new song:

When someone comes to kill you

In the middle of the night

Don’t try to defend yourself

Don’t use an ounce of might

Just sit there quietly and try hard not to faint

As the world calls out for – maximum restraint

“Maximum Restraint” is a departure for Himmelman, who is the son-in-law of music legend Bob Dylan.

“I’ve never been political before, but things are so over the top right now that I felt I had to act,” he says. “The out-and-out anti-Semitism is incredible.”

In addition to writing and recording this new song within the span of just two days, Himmelman also wrote a column for The Huffington Post defending Israel’s conduct in Operation Protective Edge.

“If you can say that Israel has the right to exist, than you must, in the same breath say that it has the right to defend itself from a fanatical religious cult that is hell-bent on its destruction. Defending a nation isn’t pretty. It always involves blood and gore… It’s so easy to take the armchair pacifist’s position when you’ve never shit your pants from the report of a rocket falling too near,” he writes.

Himmelman reached out to Roz Rothstein, CEO of the Israel education non-profit StandWithUs for help in quickly putting together a video for “Maximum Restraint.” The clip, released Thursday, is comprised mainly of still images and video footage of Hamas militants, rockets and terror tunnels. It also includes pictures of IDF soldiers and the effects of Hamas terror on the Israeli civilian population.

The video is unlike the singer’s usual professionally-produced music videos.

“This one is not about me,” Himmelman says. “If it showed me singing while playing guitar, if it were too slick, it would have been sort of stupid.”

Himmelman, who played in Israel in 2002 during the Second Intifada, would love to come back now for a repeat engagement.

“I would get on a plane tonight to do a concert if someone asked me,” he says.


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