In an all-too-often anti-Israel entertainment industry, David Draiman, lead singer of internationally acclaimed heavy metal rock band DISTURBED, explains why he "stands with his people," regardless of the consequences his stance may incur in traditional entertainment circles. Draiman tells Voice Of Israel's Jeremy Gimpel why he believes the mainstream media is laying the ground for "the next Holocaust."
In a Voice Of Israel exclusive interview, Draiman — who has extensive family in Israel, including his brother, Jerusalem-based folk rock and ambient musician Ben Draiman, as well as his grandmother — explains how the Holocaust and Israel's pre-State underground army affected his beliefs, and sheds light on why he pledges to be eternally defend his "family" and his "people." You can listen to the chat below. A couple of excerpts follow (transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET).
On how his taking such a strong stance on Israel has been received by his followers on Twitter:
"You know, it's been interesting. I often get the critique from some of the people that, let's say, are part of the business end of the organization that, you know, maybe I shouldn't stick my neck out so much, and maybe I should hold my cards a little bit closer to my chest and not be so outspoken about it. But, truth be told, I think when the last Gaza War first began, I maybe took a… I don't know… a hit of maybe three, four hundred followers that I initially lost, who probably sympathized [with] the other side. Which, by the way, I have an appreciation and love for all human life. It's not like I don't sympathize with people who are victimized by Hamas — I do — but when they celebrate in the streets when Jews die, it kind of makes the situation a little bit more difficult to swallow for me. But I still sympathize, even with the brainwashed. But I think that it's been incredible how many more people came back.
"Part of who I am as an individual — and I don't necessarily speak on behalf of the band, per se; everybody in the band has their own opinions and their own way of thinking. And, thankfully, my brothers in DISTURBED have been tremendously supportive of me in my defending my people and my family and my country. So it's been, actually, very heart-warming. But, ironically enough, I've been an outspoken individual my whole life and certainly even since the Gaza War that preceded it and throughout my career. And our Facebook page, for example, still gets anywhere from 15 to 25 thousand additional 'likes' every week. My Twitter page is at about 150,000 and I only started it a couple of years ago and I keep it pretty limited. I don't go hunting for followers. Our fans either want to listen or they don't. And if people want to know what's inside my head, they can go to [my] Twitter page, and if people want to know what's going on with DISTURBED, they go to the DISTURBED page, and I try to not mix the two."
On what he thinks about how the mainstream media has been covering Israel:
"It's absolutely shameful, unbelievably biased. For whatever reason, the mainstream media, for the most part, affixes itself to progressive or liberal propaganda. And the irony is that, from a social perspective, I'm a very liberal individual. I'm all about freedom to go ahead and practice whatever kind of religions you want, have whatever sort of sexual preference you want, freedom in terms of being pro choice for women… I support liberty, I support true freedom. And so, these entities, whether it's CNN or Reuters or BBC, or any of the number of news sources that are just so unbelievably biased and who jump at the opportunity to chastize and crucify Israel every chance they get while ignoring and making excuses for every single transgression and every single war crime committed by these terrorists, committed by these inhuman creatures, who think that it's okay, and who praise and who cheer and who call martyrs the individuals who have the audacity and the cowardice to enter a synagogue and kill some of the pillars of Judaism is just completely reprehensible.
"I have been very, very clear in my position that the mainstream media is setting the stage for a new Holocaust. They are the reason that this anti-Semitic fervor has been perpetuated over the entire globe. They're presenting their story and their agenda exactly the way they wanted it.
"It's interesting how the media loved the state of Israel and loved our story when we were the underdog. And now we're no longer the underdog, now that we have the ability and the military might and the intestinal fortitude to always defend ourselves and defend our people and defend our right to exist, they damn us for that, and they condemn us for that.
"Like I said, I mourn for the loss of human life on both sides. As much as I mourn for a Jewish child who has to run to the bomb shelter on a regular basis for fear of rocket attacks, I also mourn for the Palestinian child who is bred into a life of terrorism, who is taught, from the minute they're born, to hate, with propaganda, with media that is laden with hatred. And they are taught to be these instruments of jihad and martyrdom, and it's just reprehensible.
"The cycle of hate is choking and it's maddening. And so the mainstream media continues to paint their picture. And organizations like the Amnesty International and organizations like the quote-unquote human rights organizations of the world will continue to paint their skewed image, and there are gonna be those of us who will still do our best to try and call them out on their nonsense and try and point to actual fact and try and point to the casualty figures and make sure that they're accurate and make sure that they understand that Hamas is the one reporting these figures. And they're doing exactly what they've intended all along: they're playing everyone, and they're playing the media. And the media loves it, because the media loves to sell fear. They love to sell hatred. They profit off it. That's their business. It makes for a good story. So they're completely self serving. There isn't any altruistic intentions in anything that they do."
Both of Draiman's maternal grandparents were survivors of the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, while many others on his mother's side were wiped out by the Nazis.
The DISTURBED song "Never Again", from 2010's "Asylum" album, was written about the Holocaust and calls out people who deny it.
The United States Holocaust Museum has featured Draiman in its "Voices On Anti-Semitism" podcasts.
Asked by the Jerusalem Post about running into heavy metal fans who are anti-Semitic or sometimes even neo-Nazis, Draiman replied, "I'm incredibly defiant against neo-Nazis and skinheads," adding that he convinced one fan who used to come to the band's early shows in Chicago to get a swastika tattoo removed from his head after he learned that Draiman was Jewish.
DISTURBED went on an open-ended hiatus in 2011, with Draiman saying at the time that all four members wanted some time to pursue other endeavors.
DISTURBED has not indicated when it plans to return, although all four members say they're likely to come back.