Isaiah had a good idea. The biblical book has the prophet suggesting that swords should be reassigned as plowshares and “spears [turned] into pruning hooks,” adding the hope that “nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.”
That is a life-affirming concept that has been wholeheartedly embraced by peacemongers across the generations. But, can good intent really put an end to the politically-driven violence that has ravaged this part of the world for the past 100 years? And that is without even considering all the civilizations that ran roughshod through this sliver of land that connects three continents, across the centuries.
Dori Sadovnik certainly believes so. On October 7 he, like the rest of us, was shaken to his bones by the brutality unleashed by Hamas terrorists on thousands of Israeli civilians in the South of the country. He was particularly shocked by the attack on the 4,000 or so youngsters having fun at the Supernova Sukkot Gathering, an open-air psychedelic trance music Supernova festival held near Kibbutz Reim, less than 20 km. from the Gaza Strip. As an internationally acclaimed musician who has played similar events for over a decade that shocked Sadovnik more than anything.
In times of peace, Sadovnik forms one-half of Israeli electronic and indie music duo Red Axes which has been performing at giant venues and outdoor sites, both here and around the world, since 2010. He and Niv Arzi have been pumping out the beats, decibels, and melodies across a broad range of genres, including disco, house, garage rock, post-punk, psychedelic rock, and techno. This makes him the perfect guy to spearhead the latest creative venture that aims to raise funds for the survivors of the Hamas attack, the families of those murdered, and of those being held hostage in Gaza.
Bring Them Back initiative
SADOVNIK SAYS the Bring Them Back initiative came together in rapid fashion.
“Everybody joined in straightaway,” he says when I note the length of the roster of stellar acts that have provided numbers to the trance, techno and electronic dance music (EDM) compilation that is now on sale, along with merchandise, on the Bring Them Back web site (october07.org).
The site information notes that “Israeli producers from the trance, techno, and EDM scenes have contributed over 50 original tracks” and “committed to using the power of music to help.”
“Everything needed to be done really quickly,” Sadovnik notes.
“This was a spontaneous list of artists from all over Israel who wanted to do something to help. It all happened quicker than we were able to gather our thoughts, and understand what we want to do with all this.”
The initiative appears to be a resounding success thus far. Just two days after the compilation was put out there sales topped the NIS 130,000 mark, with plenty more funds expected to come in. Some of the biggest names in the aforementioned music industry sectors are in the collection, including Astrix, Infected Mushroom, Magit Cacoon, and Vini Vici – naturally in addition to Red Axes.
Veteran DJ Ella Gotman is one of the top acts on the global scene, with a show for over two and a half million people in Berlin in her bulging bio. The collection features her number “Sunrise Over Dead Sea.” She says she was on board the initiative as soon as she could.
“When you do something from the heart everyone gives their all. So, in addition to having a track in the compilation, and being on the Israeli electronic music scene for 25 years, this is my part, my place. And there are so many good people involved.”
The project may have materialized in double quick time, but many of the contributing artists had to overcome an emotional hurdle before they could get down to work.
Both Gotman and Sadovnik said they initially found it hard to even consider creative means of expression.
“What just happened? People came to the happiest place and then they killed so many people in the middle of a party.
For someone like me who has been doing that most of my life, it is hard for me to listen to music right now.”
She feels there is a sacrosanct element at the core of her chosen field which has been defiled, and needs healing.
“The basis of the idea behind electronic music – because it has no lyrics – is that it has no boundaries, no religion, no gender, it doesn’t differentiate between anyone. It has no language. And suddenly people come to this holy place and they desecrate it in such a brutal way. You feel that is against the DNA of everything.”
Gotman says she and her professional colleagues are doing the only thing they know how to try to at least alleviate the suffering of those most affected by the violence.
“We are not the state, we are not the army, we are people. And the tragedy happened to our people. All we can do is offer our art in this compilation.”
AS THE MOTHER of a soldier stationed with the troops that may enter Gaza sometime in the near future, Gotman also connects emotionally with others around the country whose loved ones were called up for reserve duty, or who are in the middle of compulsory combat service.
Despite the anti-Israel sentiment that is building around the world, Gotman believes people abroad are capable of empathizing with our predicament and the tragedy that began close to three weeks ago now. She cites the warm words of U2 rock band lead singer Bono in the middle of a concert at Las Vegas the day after the mass murder by Hamas.
Before launching the band performed one of its biggest hits, “Pride (In the Name of Love)”, Bono said: “In the light of what’s happened in Israel and Gaza, a song about non-violence seems somewhat ridiculous, even laughable, but our prayers have always been for peace and for non-violence. But our hearts and our anger, you know where that’s pointed. So sing with us… those beautiful kids at that music festival.”
Despite the barbaric attack, Sadovnik says he has undimmed faith in the ability of music to heal and bring people together, notwithstanding the fact that he completely identifies with Gotman’s quandary.
“I have always listened to music, all my life. But this is the first time I can’t create music or think about it.”
That said, he believes the Bring Them Back compilation can not only generate some much-needed revenue for the war victims, it can also help to put us in a better frame of mind and, hopefully, enable us to better deal with the ongoing crisis, tension, and anxiety.
“On the one hand, people want very much to help. They are going through strong feelings of distress. This generation has never experienced existential threat. The musicians have to do something. This is our contribution.”