Yishay Montgomery’s phone is ringing off the hook. In the 24 hours since he obtained momentary fame as Israel’s “guitar hero” by attempting to hit terrorist Bashar Massalha over the head with his acoustic guitar, Montgomery, 26, has been hounded by the media asking to tell his story over and over.
He’s also picked up a few new guitars donated by well-wishers in Israel and around the world.
“It’s getting weirder and weirder. I already have two guitars that I’ve managed to pick up, and there’s plenty more offers,” Montgomery said on Wednesday. “I’m running around with the press. I’m probably going to hit a wall soon. I haven’t gotten a minute of sleep since it happened.”
Tuesday’s fatal stabbing attack in Jaffa killed American tourist Taylor Force and wounded 10 other people. As Massalha was fleeing along the promenade, Montgomery was able to hit him over the head with his guitar, momentarily stunning Massalha but not disarming him.
As Israelis search for reassurance and normalcy, Montgomery’s story has been one of the few bright spots, along with Yonatan Azarihab, who was attacked in Petah Tikva in a separate attack earlier in the day. Azarihab managed to pulled the knife out of his neck and stab the terrorist who attacked him. His assailant died later. Azarihab was hospitalized with multiple stab wounds.
Since the heavy news coverage of Montgomery’s guitar intervention, sympathizers in Israel and around the world have jumped to replace Montgomery’s ruined instrument. Halilit guitars in Jaffa’s Watchtower Square, near the site of the attack, donated a guitar to Montgomery with Ynet in attendance. D’Angelico Guitars in New York City contacted The Times of Israel on Wednesday to help facilitate a connection with Montgomery in order to send him a new guitar from NYC.
A GoFundMe campaign raised almost $4,500 in the day after the attack, with more than 200 supporters, who plan to purchase a guitar in America and bring it to Israel at a later date.
Montgomery has only been back in Israel for a few months, after living in the Canadian Rockies and rural areas around British Columbia, Canada. His father is from Texas — Taylor Force’s home state — and his mother is Canadian.
“I’m kind of homesick right now. I’m pretty new to Israel,” said Montgomery, who has previously lived in Israel and is a returning citizen. “I went from pretty much [rural] isolation to busy loud crazy civilization with a bit of violence, and I can’t really comprehend what’s going on.”
As a new transplant hoping to make a career out of music, he’s also pragmatic about this situation. “I wouldn’t mind the exposure, because I’m a musician and I want to get recorded,” he said. Montgomery plays what he calls an undefinable genre of world music, and his signature style is playing the didgeridoo and guitar simultaneously. He is looking to collaborate with percussionists and other musicians, but is still getting settled and does not have a band or any gigs planned.
Montgomery said he plans to stay in Tel Aviv until all of the commotion dies down, and then he’ll figure out his next step.
“For now, I’m just going with the flow of what happened, everyone wants a piece of what’s going on,” he said. The worst part was having reporters yell at each other and him. “People want exclusivity and everything, but I’m just here to tell my story. But really, I can’t even listen to myself speak anymore.”
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