An Israeli heavy metal band by the name of Orphaned Land has generated a loyal fan base with their catchy lyrics and head-banging beats. Besides this accomplishment, however, this band has also transformed their artistic abilities into a political movement, as they convey the message of peace to their listeners.
Orphaned Land has been on their ‘All Is One’ tour since the summer of 2013. The band toured in Europe, playing 18 shows in six countries, during the fall of 2013. For that leg of the tour, Orphaned Land invited the Palestinian heavy metal band, Khalas, to perform with them and share in the small confinements of their tour bus.
Other bands to join the tour were Klone, The Mars Chronicle and Bilocate. The latter two are bands from France, and the third is from Jordan. This added to the diversity of the tour, and consequently portrayed to the world that people can collaborate harmoniously despite their differences.
The decision for Orphaned Land and Khalas to play together specifically gained attention, as it is an unlikely occurrence for Palestinians and Israelis to work together. The two bands respected the cultural disparities between them, however, and even embraced these differences. This union exemplified the importance of focusing on what brings people together, rather than what drives them apart.
Orphaned Land’s lead singer, Kobi Farhi, highlighted the purpose of the tour, besides the obvious reason of expressing themselves through music, as he explained, “We can’t change the world, but we can give an example of how coexistence is possible… Sharing a stage and sharing a bus is stronger than a thousand words. We’ll show how two people from different backgrounds who live in a conflict zone can perform together.”
The conflict that Farhi mentioned refers to the fight over territory and disputes over ambiguous borders between Israel and Palestine, which arguably began in the late 19th century. Conversely, the war in 1947 was when the extreme violence amplified, which completely changed the map of the Middle East and the temperament of the neighboring states. The conflict and turmoil has persisted ever since, with constant cases of illegal settlements on each other’s land, and violent attacks occurring daily.
Despite this perpetual turmoil, these bands left the conflict behind them for the sake of their love for music. This is a political statement in and of itself, since they are epitomizing tolerance, which is a necessary virtue for the resolution of such a pressing issue.
“We’re living together, we’re playing together, and we’re pissing on all those politicians. It takes them ages to even come to the table or talk about something,” Farhi stated about the politics imbedded in the tour.
The lyrics in the songs composed by Orphaned Land are also focused on politics, as opposed to typical songs written about heartbreak. One of their most popular songs, Disciples of the Sacred Oath, contains the line, “Shall we see the end of war, blood brothers? Or shall we fill another grave, for ourselves we couldn’t save,” which is a direct reference to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Khala’s lead guitarist, Abed Hathut, claimed, “We are metal brothers before everything.” Khala as a group also holds the message of peace close to their hearts, as Hathut added, “There is no bigger message for peace than through this tour.”
The ‘All Is One’ tour certainly speaks volumes on the possibilities for the future of both Israel and Palestine. With younger generations creatively projecting peace through the arts, perhaps a wave of sensibility can overcome these two warring states.
The devastation and poverty caused by the constant conflict between Israel and Palestine cannot be resolved until both sides can shake hands across the table at peace talks. Until then, Orphaned Land and Khalas have left a positive example of cultural harmony, both through their music and their ability to focus on their similarities rather than their differences.
– Danielle Warren