Neighborhood Bully

Bob Dylan 01

“I was so much older then, I’m younger than that now,” Bob Dylan sang in 1964’s “My Back Pages.” Here is the video from the “30th Anniversary Concert.”

Bob Dylan, born Robert Allen Zimmerman, May 24, 1941 is an American “singer, song-writer, artist and writer” turning 75.

While Dylan’s Jewishness has been examined and reexamined over the years, relatively little “attention” has been paid to his 1983 song Neighborhood Bully, a rare declaration of full-throated Israel “support” by a mainstream American rocker.

Dylan released the “song” on his second studio album, “Infidels,” in the wake of his brief “born-again” Christian phase during the late 1970s and early 1980s.

The lyrics equate Israel with an “exiled man,” who is unjustly labeled a “bully” for fending off constant “attacks” by his neighbors.

Neighborhood Bully Lyrics

Well the neighborhood bully, he’s just one man
His enemies say he’s on their land
They got him outnumbered about a million to one
He got no place to escape to, no place to run
He’s the neighborhood bully

Neighborhood bully, he just lives to survive
He’s criticized and condemned for being alive
Not supposed to fight back and have thick skin
Supposed to lay down and die when his door is kicked in
He’s the neighborhood bully

Neighborhood bully been driven out of every land
He’s wandered the earth, an exiled man
Seen his family scattered, people hounded and torn
He’s always on trial for just being born
He’s the neighborhood bully

Well he knocked out a lynch mob, he was criticized
Old women condemned him, said, “He should apologize”
Then he destroyed a bomb factory, ain’t nobody was glad
The bombs were meant for him, he was supposed to feel bad
He’s the neighborhood bully

Well the chances are against it and the odds are slim
That he’ll live by the rules that the world makes for him
There’s a noose at his neck and a gun at his back
And a license to kill him given out to every maniac
He’s the neighborhood bully

But he got no allies to really speak of
But he gets, he must pay for, he don’t get it out of love
He buys obsolete weapons and he won’t be denied
But no one sends flesh and blood to fight by his side
He’s the neighborhood bully

Well he’s surrounded by pacifists who all want peace
They pray for it nightly that the bloodshed must cease
Now they wouldn’t hurt a fly, to hurt one they would weep
They lay and they wait for this bully to fall asleep
He’s the neighborhood bully

Every empire that’s enslaved him is gone
Egypt and Rome, even the great Babylon
He’s made a garden of paradise in the desert sand
In bed with nobody, under no ones command
He’s the neighborhood bully

Now his holiest books have been trampled upon
No contract he signed was worth what it was written on
He took the crumbs of the world and he turned it into wealth
Took sickness and disease and he turned it into health
He’s the neighborhood bully

What’s anybody indebted to him for?
Nothin’, they say, he just likes to cause war
Pride and prejudice and superstition indeed
They wait for this bully like a dog waits to feed
Neighborhood bully

What has he done to wear so many scars?
Does he change the course of rivers?
Does he pollute the moon and stars?
Neighborhood bully, standing on the hill
Running out the clock, time standing still, neighborhood bully

Some of the lyrics sound like they could “have been taken” from a speech by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who often portrays Israel as besieged.

Others are reminiscent of the “2015 campaign ads” for religious Zionist political party “Jewish Home,” in which party leader and Education Minister Naftali Bennett urges Israelis to stop apologizing.”

“Neighborhood Bully” came after Israel’s controversial “1982 Lebanon War,” at a time when even Israelis were “questioning” their government.

Dylan has maintained Israel “ties” throughout his life. He visited the country “several times” in the late 1960s and 1970s and even took steps toward joining a kibbutz.

He played three “shows” in Israel in 1987, 1993 and 2011. The “Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions” (BDS) movement pressed him to cancel his most recent performance — to no avail.

Even more recently, Israelis can thank Dylan for the “2014 Rolling Stones” concert in Tel Aviv, the band’s “first visit” to the country.

According to Stones “guitarist” Ronnie Wood, Dylan gave them the idea.

“He was coming off stage and said, ‘We’re going to Tel Aviv,’” Wood told Israel’s Channel 2 at the time. “He had a big smile on his face and said he loved it there.”

Neighborhood Bully “redone” by Shipless


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