Rod Kersh
Person-centred physician

Lonely bombs falling/Shekhina sheltering

Antisemitism and Bialik, Photo by Rod Kersh 2024.

Recently I have been listening to Israeli hip-hop.

Yes, you read correctly.

The only other middle-aged person I know who has a public hip-hop appreciation is Louis Theroux.

I suspect he is more into classic 90’s South-Central than 2023 Israel.

One of the most prominent are the artists Stilla and Nes.

Their song Harbo Darbo has been downloaded over six million times on Spotify.

Harbo Darbo is a Syrian Arabic term meaning ‘mayhem’ which has evolved into Hebrew slang to mean, ‘to destroy the enemy’ – similar to the way in which fauda has transferred from Arabic into Hebrew and more recently, via Netflix into English.

The song was released in November 2023, following the October 7th attacks and contains painful lyrics that describe the militarization of Israel and a desire to hit at Hamas and their supporters.

Not for the faint-hearted it references the Mosaic (and South African/International Criminal Court) Sons of Amalek, remembering what they did to you on your way out of Egypt, utilizing a strategy of attacking the weak and the frail with an intention to not mess with Israel, instead to shoot, shoot, shoot.

It is not for the peaceniks.

Indeed, I only understand half the lyrics, given the speed and anger with which it is sung.

And, here I am, a lone soft chick, sheltering beneath my mother’s wing.

Yes, that was a reference to Bialik.

What I try to express is a profound sense of diasporic discombobulation.

Here is another example.

My email address represents two halves of my whole.

It contains

Representing the date of the creation of the NHS – the UK’s National Health Service the establishment of the State of Israel.

I named one of my children after the first leader of the Labour Party in the UK, I won’t call him out here – you can Google if you are interested, his second name, in Ashkenazi tradition is after that of my grandfather.

My past and present, who I am and what I have been continuously intermingle.

They combine to create me.

I’m not unique – this is the human experience. We are all the products of our experiences, our genetics and lifetime events, nature, and nurture they called it prior to epigenetics.

At the end of this month, I have some scheduled leave.

Part of me wants to visit my family in Israel and witness the country post 10/7 that has been central to much of what I have thought and felt over the past five months. On the other hand, I want to travel to Scotland, to perhaps hide-out on an Island in the Hebrides, for a few days, a book, the rain, and silence. Although there I risk Humza Yousaf or whatever else I might find.

I am torn. A torticollis of my identity – represented very well last night in a short interview I watched on Instagram with Leonard Cohen in 1985 (minute three), ‘Is your music becoming more Jewish?’ He was asked, ‘I can’t make my music more Jewish; Jewish is who I am, it is a part of me, I can’t make it more Jewish any more than a pregnant woman can’t be more pregnant.’ (I paraphrase) – he alludes to the zero-sum game much discussed in Middle Eastern politics. Either I am or I am not, I cannot be both.

I, now in my fifth decade am no more or less Jewish than I was as a boy of six or seven, struggling to wear my tzitzit underneath my Glasgow school uniform.

Only the tide appears to have changed.

I can’t be a little bit of this and a little bit of that (Is that a song?)

Jew or not.

Zionist or enemy of the Palestinian People.

With or against us.

Society in its fracturing, whether of the haves and have-nots, the one versus the 99 percent. You are either Left or Right, Republican or Democrat, Freedom Fighter or Oppressor.

For much of the past 15 years, with the Conservative domination of British Politics I have been continuously Left; Labour. Even during the Corbyn years, as the Antisemite hid behind a guise of equality and equanimity towards he facilitated a festering hatred of Israel.

And now, I’ve become ambivalent.

The Tory party has to a greater or lesser extent ruined the NHS. Remember my email address? Working within healthcare, treating patients based on need rather than their bank balance is at my core – even that is slipping away.

Tory and Labour, make me think of the Zen koans recited in Ruth Ozeki’s novel The Book of Form and Emptiness.

‘Up is down, down is up, both are the same.’

You can apply a similar logic to all opposites.

In or out, good or bad.

We exist on a relativistic spectrum, neither one nor the other.

Who is the Nazi now?

Who has unleashed genocide?

It is hard to reconcile.

I have not purchased my El Al tickets yet. I don’t know if I will feel more or less alienated in Israel than the UK.

Currently The Land, Haaretz exists within me as both a metaphor, a recollection and an aspiration for the future, it is now, yesterday, and tomorrow.

It is the person calling me out for my support of the colonizers, it is my mis-identifying the content of a contentious tweet and ending up disciplined, it is all things and nothing.

Most of my blogs where I discuss Israel or Judaism are published both on my own site – Almondemotion (representing the two sides of my psyche – the amygdala (almond), fear or flight of fight self-preservation ‘anxious Jew’ and the emotional creator, the innovator.

This blog, I am not releasing locally.

It’s too personal.

I worry what some will think. Maybe my colleagues, possibly my patients.

Remember the Spanish and Portuguese Conversos, the Crypto-Jews who survived the 1400’s persecution by the Catholic Church through living as Christians, while behind doors, in the dead of night, pursuing the religion of their forefathers.

I feel myself slipping into that nether world.

Proud Jew.

Stand up and be counted.

My children wear their Magen David’s. I wonder what will happen if they are called-out. Challenged over their imperial insignia.

In Hellenistic times the Jewish men attempted to hide their situation through painful (and likely fatal) surgery ‘uncircumcision‘.

Fortunately, I rarely stand unclothed.

That is how it feels to be a Jew in the diaspora.



Waiting for the next disaster.

No shooting.

No fast-paced lyrics.


About the Author
Dr Rod Kersh is a Consultant Physician working in Rotherham, South Yorkshire. He blogs at
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