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Amir Benayoun

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Amir Benayoun

Amir Benayoun (Hebrew: עמיר בניון) (born in August 30, 1975) is an Israeli singer-songwriter.


Youth and beginning of his career

Benayoun was born in Beersheba, to Maxim and Esther Benayoun with Jewish origins from Algeria. His father was an oud player.[1] From a very young age he showed great interest in music, playing with his father and his brother. While devoting himself to songwriting, he made a living working in home repair jobs. He was turned away from serving in in the IDF, because of a drug problem.[2] After his release he went through a rehab process. His turn to an extremist form of Judaism is reportedly based on the example of one of his brothers.[3] In 1999 Benayoun released his first album, "Rak Ath" (Only You), selling 40,000 copies. Shortly after it came the second album, and in 2002 his third, "Shalechet" (Fall), was a big hit, establishing Benayoun in the mainstream of Israeli music.

Other works and Awards

Additionally, he wrote and composed songs for other artists, such as Gidi Gov and Gali Atari.[4]

In 2006, Benayoun won the Akum Award for his song, "Nitzacht Iti Hakol" but he refused to accept it and donated it instead.

In 2011, Benayoun created an album in Arabic called "Zini" to support the people in the Syrian uprising.[5]

Benayoun recorded a song called "Khayav Shel Gargamel"("Life of Gargamel"). In the song, Benayoun feels sorry for Gargamel, the evil character in "The Smurfs", because he wants to catch and eat them but always fails.


In November 2014, the President of Israel, Reuven Rivlin cancelled a scheduled performance by Benayoun at the president's official residence, after being shocked by reading his lyric dealing with an Arab dreaming of murdering Jews, especially Jewish babies, and after a wave of controversy arose in reaction to its circulation.[3][6][7][8] Rivlin's decision was attacked from representatives of both sides of the political spectrum, by the religious for rebuffing a true patriot, by the left for intolerance of the right to free self-expression.[3] A poll by Channel 2 News suggested 42% of Israelis concur with the song's sentiments. Meretz MK Issawi Frej has requested that the singer be investigation on incitement charges.[9] Uri Avnery, who has translated the poem, and who says it is the expression of a decline in Benayoun's musical fortunes, claims that if you substitute David for Ahmed, and any foreign city for Jerusalem, what the lyric turns out to be is 'a perfect anti-Semitic poem'.[3] He likened it to a poem he heard as a child in Germany before WW2, which ran:

When Jewish blood spurts from the knife
Everything will be twice as good.[3]

The lyrics have been translated by Richard Silverstein:

Hello, they call me Ahmed
I live in Jerusalem and study a thing or two at the University
I enjoy the best of both worlds [Jew and Arab]
Today I’m mild and all smiley
Tomorrow I’ll fly to the heavens
And take a Jew or two to Hell with me.

It’s true that I’m an ungrateful piece of shit
It’s true but I’m not at fault, I wasn’t raised on love
It’s true a moment will come when you’ll turn your back
And I’ll slash you with a sharpened ax.

I’m Ahmed living in town
I work next to a kindergarten
And am responsible for the gas cylinders[10]

A complete version has been given by Uri Avnery.

Salaam Aleikum I am called Ahmed
And I live in Jerusalem
I study at the university a thing or two
Who enjoys all the worlds like me?
Today I am moderate and smiling
Tomorrow I shall ascend to heaven
I shall send to hell a Jew or two
It’s true that I am just ungrateful scum
That’s true, but I am not to blame, I grew up without love
The moment will come when you turn your back to me
And then I shall stick into you the sharpened axe.

I am Ahmed living in the central region
I work near a kindergarten and am responsible for gas containers
Who like me enjoys two worlds?
Today I am here and tomorrow they will not be here
Many of them, very many of them will not
It’s true that I am nothing but ungrateful scum
That’s true, but I am not to blame, I grew up without love
It’s true that the moment will come when you turn your back to me
And then I shall stick into you the sharpened axe
It’s true that I am nothing but ungrateful scum
That’s true, but I am not to blame, I grew up without love

It’s true that the moment will come when you turn your back to me
And then I shall shoot you straight in the back.[3]



  • Rak Ath (רק את - Only You) 1999
  • Otho Makom, Otha Haruah (אותו מקום אותה הרוח - The Same Place, the Same Spirit) 1999
  • Shalechet (שלכת - Fall) 2002
  • Nizaht Iti Hakol (ניצחת איתי הכל - You Won Everything with Me) 2004
  • Hakol Ad Lechan (הכל עד לכאן - Everything until Here) 2006
  • Aluf Beshahor (אלוף בשחור - Champion in Black) 2007
  • Omed Basha'ar (עומד בשער - Standing in the Gate) 2008
  • Mahshavoth - with Yehuda Masas (מחשבות - Thoughts) 2010
  • Lada'ath Hakol (לדעת הכל - To Know Everything) 2010
  • Zini 2011 (in Arabic)
  • Etz Al May'im (עץ על מים - Tree On Water) 2012
  • Shirey eretz hahava (שירי ארץ אהבה - Sings of love land) 2013


  • Sha'a Shel Or (שעה של אור - Hour of Light) 2009

Mini Albums

  • Hamiklat (המקלט - The Shelter) 2011


  1. ^
  2. ^ Ethan Pack, of Love And Hate,' 23 June3 2010 The Forward
  3. ^ a b c d e f Uri Avnery,'The Son of My Eyes,' Counterpunch 28-29 November 2014.
  4. ^ עמיר בניון וגלי עטרי שרים יחד in the website of Israeli News Company
  5. ^ Israeli song becomes Syrian opposition’s soundtrack
  6. ^ Laura King, Batsheva Sobelman, 'Violent images in Israeli pop song stir controversy,' Los Angeles Times 26 November 2014.
  7. ^ Rivlin Cancels Appearance by Israeli Singer After Anti-Arab Song' The Forward 25 November 2014.
  8. ^ "Berman, Lazar:'President cancels singer’s gig over ‘racist’ song' (Nov 25, 2014) The Times of Israel"
  9. ^ 'New song 'Ahmed Loves Israel' sparks charges of racist incitement,' Israel Hayom November 25, 2014
  10. ^ Richard Silverstein, '58% of Israelis Support Firing Palestinian Workers According to News Poll,' 26 November 2014.

External links

  • About Amir Benayoun in the website of "Nevel Asor" (his record label)(in Hebrew)

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