Of Violins and Harps

A few weeks ago, a Palestinian violinist trying to cross a West Bank checkpoint was forced to play his violin. The soldier ordered him to "play something sad".You can see the details at the BBC in Israel army forces violin recital and the Haaretz in Israeli soldiers force Palestinian to play violin at West Bank checkpoint. As usual, Human Rights groups in Israel protested.The first thing that came to my mind when reading these articles, was the verses of Psalm 137, specifically a very similar situation, but with Hebrew exiles being asked to play their music:

137:1 By the rivers of Babylon we sit down and weep when we remember Zion.137:2 On the poplars in her midst we hang our harps,137:3 for there our captors ask us to compose songs; those who mock us demand that we be happy, saying: "Sing for us a song about Zion!"137:4 How can we sing a song to the Lord in a foreign land?137:5 If I forget you, O Jerusalem, may my right hand be crippled!137:6 May my tongue stick to the roof of my mouth, if I do not remember you, and do not give Jerusalem priorityover whatever gives me the most joy.137:7 Remember, O Lord, what the Edomites did on the day Jerusalem fell. They said, "Tear it down, tear it down, right to its very foundation!"137:8 O daughter Babylon, soon to be devastated! How happy will be the one who repays you for what you dished out to us!137:9 How happy will be the one who grabs your babies and smashes them on a rock!

As you can see from the poetic imagery in this Psalm, that the Hebrew exiles in Babylon had enormous hatred for their captors who destroyed their cities, and took them captives. They yearned for the day where they would return home, and re-establish their  state, as well as exacting justice and vengeance of their captors, even to the extent of smashing babies on rocks!The people who engage in this oppresion, whether it is humiliation of a violinist, destruction of a home, or any other means, and the people who are silent against this happening in their name should remember that they themselves were oppressed at a different point in history or a different place. Perhaps for three complete millenia. They should know better than become oppressors of others.

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