Master of metal David Draiman shows Israel some heavy support


Fearless frontman: David Draiman on stage with his band Disturbed. Credit: Getty

It was a bracelet with the words ‘Am Israeli Chai’ given to him by a young fan that prompted American heavy metal star David Draiman to almost break down on stage and speak to his fans about October 7 for the first time.

The lead vocalist of the heavy metal band Disturbed, who has family in Israel, is an active advocate for Israel online but until the concert last week in Florida, the Jewish New Yorker has deliberately stayed away from speaking about the Jewish state on stage.

But when he saw a young girl who he’d met before at one of his concerts had a placard saying, ‘I have a present for you’, he brought her on stage — and promptly unravelled.

“We try and keep politics separate from our music but when I was given that bracelet I felt like someone was trying to tell me something,” he tells me during a quick phone call before his flight to his latest concert venue. “The shows are an escape for people but it all feels very personal; I lost friends at the Nova Festival. So many were slaughtered. Even after all of these months I can’t shake the state of shock.”

The video of his outburst went viral as he huskily told his audience: “I miss people who were slaughtered like animals at the Nova Festival. Rape is not resistance. Slaughtering innocents at a music festival that brings together people from all walks of life is not resistance.

“I genuinely feel empathy for the Palestinian people. There is not a single Jew on this planet that does not celebrate life. We celebrate life. Hamas celebrates death and they need to be eradicated; not the Palestinians, Hamas. We need to save Gaza from Hamas.”

As I’m sure you can imagine, reaction to David has been  mixed. Even before October 7, he had to take on extra security thanks to almost daily death threats.

“It is mainly keyboard warriors saying things like, ‘we know where you are’ and ‘we’re going to find you and your family’,” he says. “But when you report messages like these to the social media companies, they do nothing about it.”

He also helped fundraise for security for fellow Jewish musician Matisyahu who saw two shows cancelled in the US after the venues said they couldn’t guarantee security due to anti-Israel protests that were planned. The reggae singer’s crime had been to visit Israel.

“I know we are outnumbered but I am used to dealing with hate — I’ve had it my whole career,” says David. “And I refuse to back down. I will not give in to these monsters and these terrorists who wish to bully us into subjugation; I will not show that as an example to my son.

“We are in a Catch-22 situation. We know we have to defend ourselves and that Israel has to root out the evil of Hamas and we are also seeing how they are achieving their goal in sacrificing their own people. And, amazingly, they are doing it while indoctrinating people in the West that a genocidal death cult is a good thing. We are just in this horrific situation.”

His double Grammy-winning band has sold 17 million records, making them one of the most successful heavy metal bands of this century. They are currently on tour, and heading to Australia and New Zealand next. But David also has plans to travel to Israel and see the situation with his own eyes.

“I hope to visit some of the kibbutzim and talk to the soldiers and be as much of an asset to them as I can while I’m there,” he tells me.

l It’s almost a year since I went to Israel to learn about the country’s booming television industry. Shows such as Fauda, Tehran and Shtisel had been huge hits around the world and business was booming as never been before thanks in part to Israel’s brilliant and economically competitive production values.

But after October 7, the Jewish state’s television industry finds itself in a very different place. Many dramas are failing to sell and industry insiders say a previously receptive industry has gone quiet.

“I was on the Israel stand at a recent big documentary festival and it felt like no one wanted to come near us,” one television worker told me.

Even shows that have nothing to do with Israel are being impacted. New Zealand postponed the second series of Kid Sister, about a New Zealand Jewish family, because the story was seen as somehow too political. You can, however, see it here on ITVX.

But documentaries are still being made with the hope that someone will watch them. One new commission will see award-winning film-maker Benoît Bringer investigate the sexual crimes of October 7.

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