Road To Peace


Young Abdel Madi Shabneh was only 18 years old
The youngest of 9 children, he'd never spent a nite away from home
And his mother held his photograph, up in the New York Times
You see the killing has intensified, along the road to peace

A tall thin boy with a whispy moustache, disguised as an Orthodox Jew
On a crowded bus in Jerusalem, some had survived World War II
And the thunderous explosion blew out windows, 200 yards away
More retribution and 17 dead, along the road to peace

Now at King George Avenue and Jaffa Road, passengers boarded bus 14A
In the aisle next to the driver Abdel Madi Shabneh
And the last thing that he said on earth was "God is great and god is good"
And he blew them all to kingdom come, upon the road to peace

Now in response to this, another kiss of death was visited upon
Yashir Tehah(2), Israel said is an Hamas Senior militant
Israel sent 4 choppers in, flames engulfed his white Opel
And it killed his wife and his 3-year-old child, leaving only blackened skeletons

They found a toddler's bottle and a pair of small shoes,
 and they waved them in front of the cameras
But Israel said they did not know that his wife and child were in the car
There are roadblocks everywhere and only suffering on TV
Neither side will ever give up their smallest right, along the road to peace

Israel launched its latest campaign against Hamas on Tuesday
And two days later Hamas shot back and killed five Israeli soldiers
Though thousands dead and wounded on both sides, most of them Middle Eastern civilians
They fill their children full of hate, to fight an old man's war and die, upon the road to peace

"And this is our land we will fight with all our force", say the Palastinians and the Jews
And each side will cut off the hand of anyone who tries to stop the Resistance
If the right eye offends thee, then you must pluck it out
And Machoud Abbas and Sharon had been lost, along the road to peace

Once Kissinger said: "We have no friends, America only has interests"
And now our president wants to be seen as a hero and he's hungry for re-election
But Bush is reluctant to risk his future, with the fear of his political failures(3)
So he plays chess at his desk and poses for the press, ten thousand miles from the road to peace

In a video that they found at the home of Abdel Madi Shabneh
He held a Kalashnikov riffle, and he spoke with the voice like a boy
He was an excellent student, he studied so hard, it was as if he had a future
He told his mother he had a test that day, out along the road to peace

The fundamentalist killing on both sides is standing in the path of peace
And tell me, why are we arming the Israeli army with guns and tanks and bullets?
And if god is great and god is good, why can't he change the hearts of men?
Well, maybe god himself is lost and needs help
Maybe god himself he needs all of our help
Maybe god himself is lost and needs help
He's out upon the road to peace

Maybe god himself is lost and needs help
Maybe god himself he needs all of our help
And he's lost upon the road to peace
And he's lost upon the road to peace
Out upon the road to peace

Written by: Tom Waits and Kathleen Waits-Brennan(1)
Published by: Jalma Music (ASCAP), 2006
Official release: Orphans (Brawlers), (P) & 2006 Anti Inc.
Tom Waits: vocals. Marc Ribot: guitar. Casey Waits: drums.

Known covers:
None

Notes:

(1) Road To Peace:
- The Observer (2006): "'I was pissed off,' he sighs, rubbing his eyes. 'Started with a line I read in the paper one day: "He studied so hard it was as if he had a future." It was about this kid who got blown up in a suicide bomb on a bus in Israel. They say God doesn't give you anything he knows you can't handle. Well, I don't know if I believe that.' He'll probably get his ass kicked, I say, for the line '... why are we arming the Israeli Army with guns and tanks and bullets?' He nods. 'Maybe. Maybe. But, we are. That's just a fact.I guess any time anyone from outside a situation voices an opinion, it's going to be, "Who the fuck are you?" Don't matter what side you're on. But this song ain't about taking sides, it's an indictment of both sides. I tried to be as equitable as possible.' The places and the incidents referred to in the song are all real, and the names of the people, too. He's well aware, he says, of the risk of making a song carry that kind of weight. 'I don't really know what a song like that can achieve, but I was compelled to write it. I don't know if any genuine meaningful change could ever result from a song. It's kind of like throwing peanuts at a gorilla.' (Source: "Off Beat", The Observer Magazine (UK), October 29, 2006. By Sean O'Hagan)
- Q (2006): On Real Gone, you had "Day After Tomorrow." On the new CDs, there's the song "Road to Peace" with the underlying political message. Where did the song's message come from? Tom Waits: The New York Times. When you read the paper every day, it's hard to avoid that seeping into your consciousness. That was written not long ago. A lot of these were recorded within the last year. It's new stuff. I don't want to go into the origin of everything, but for me, they're from questionable sources. I didn't put any liner notes in because I didn't want to overexplain it." (Source: "Tom Waits Call And Response", Stop Smiling magazine No. 28 (USA). October 27, 2006)
- Tom Waits (2006): "I read an article in the New York Times about a young Palestinian suicide bomber who got on a bus in Jerusalem disguised as an Orthodox Jew. The story seemed to humanize what was going on in a significant way. It haunted me, and that's why I write many of my songs, because something's haunting me and I need to get it outta my head. What else could I do? Nobody in Washington is calling me up to discuss our foreign policy." (Source: "Tom Waits: Haunted songster's revelatory dispatch from the Twilight Zone", Now Magazine (Canada). Vol. 26, no. 11. November 16 - 22, 2006. By Tim Perlich)
- Tom Waits (2006): "Well, it's right out of the New York Times, really. It was a human-interest piece they did in the Times. They'll do a whole thing about a wedding planner in Baghdad, y'know, and the fact she has melting wedding cakes in the back of her Datsun. It's 2 in the afternoon and she's dodging bullets on the way to a wedding in somebody's backyard, things like that. This was about this guy, Abdel Madi Shabneh, who died. Never spent a night away from home, if you can imagine. This was the first night he spent away from home. So there were things like that in there. He studied so hard he had a seizure, things like that. I guess it stayed with me... Yeah. It's Marc Ribot on guitar and my son on drums." (Source: "Songwriter's Wandering Orphans' Will Always Find A Musical Home", The Plain Dealer (Cleveland/ USA). November 19, 2006. Telephone interview by John Soeder)
- Tom Waits (2006): "It came right out of The New York Times. It fell right out of the paper and onto the tape recorder. It's a hot topic and there were a lot of things in the article that moved me. All those lines [about the youthful suicide bomber] like, "He studied so hard, it's as if he had a future, he told his mother he had a test that day." Those were things I couldn't throw in the fireplace, so I thought maybe we can patch this into something without sounding too stiff. But then again that's probably the strength of it, that it reads like a news article." (Source: "Tom Waits Still In The Driver's Seat", The Chicago Tribune (USA). November 21, 2006. By Greg Kot)

(2) Yashir Tehah: This should read "Yasir/ Yasser Taha" (see articles below)

(3) But Bush is reluctant to risk his future: Orphans booklet has this transcribed as: "But HE is reluctant to risk his future."

Israeli Forces Take Aim at Hamas for Third Strike in 24 Hours

The New York Times. June 12, 2003. By Terence Neilan

A new round of violence erupted in the Mideast today as Israeli helicopters fired missiles at a car in Gaza City, killing a senior official of the militant group Hamas and at least six other Palestinians, news agencies reported.

The official was identified by Palestinian officials as Yasser Taha, Reuters said, adding that Mr. Taha's wife and 3-year-old daughter were among those killed. A baby bottle and child's shoes were among items pulled from the burning car, The Associated Press said.

The last of six missiles exploded among bystanders who had rushed to help the vehicle's passengers, injuring more than 40 people, witnesses and security officials told Reuters. A 3-year-old, unconscious and burned, was taken to Shifa Hospital in Gaza and died there, medical officials said.

The attack came after Prime Minister Ariel Sharon of Israel today repeated his determination to hunt down Palestinian militants.

At the same time, Hamas, which took responsibility for a suicide bus bombing in Jerusalem on Wednesday that killed 16 people, vowed that it would carry out more attacks and warned foreigners to leave Israel.

The sequence of attacks and counterattacks seemed to further dash hopes for peace in the region that grew after a meeting in Aqaba, Jordan, of Palestinian and Israeli leaders with President Bush. The participants committed themselves to the so-called road map for peace, which is backed by the United States, but since then the violence has increased rather than lessened.

The White House, which rebuked Israel on Wednesday for trying to assassinate a Hamas leader, today blamed Palestinian militants for the violence.

"The issue is not Israel, the issue is not the Palestinian Authority," Mr. Fleischer told reporters traveling with Mr. Bush in Connecticut, "the issue is the terrorists who are killing in an attempt to stop the process."

"The issue is Hamas, the terrorists are Hamas," he said.

At a cabinet meeting in Jerusalem, Mr. Sharon called Palestinian leaders "crybabies who let violence run rampant," news agencies quoted a cabinet official as saying.

Mr. Sharon also called the new Palestinian prime minister, Mahmoud Abbas, a "chick that hasn't grown its feathers yet," adding that "We have to help him fight terror until his feathers grow," the agencies said. Mr. Sharon said Israel would not stand by while Mr. Abbas tried to get the militant groups to end the violence. The Palestinian leader has said he prefers dialogue over force to rein in the militant groups.

Hamas, however, struck a determined note of its own, saying in a statement sent to news agencies that the Jerusalem suicide bombing "is the beginning of a new series of revenge attacks."

It said it had ordered "all military cells" to carry out further attacks and warned foreigners "to leave the Zionist entity immediately to preserve their lives."

Today's attack was the fourth in Gaza in three days. On Tuesday, the Israelis failed in an attempt to assassinate Dr. Abdel Aziz Rantisi, a Hamas leader, in retaliation for a weekend attack by militant groups that killed four Israeli soldiers. Two others attacks were made on Wednesday, killing nine people, including four militants.



Israel Presses Its Assault on Hamas, Killing Leader in Gaza

The New York Times. June 12, 2003. By Greg Myre

JERUSALEM, June 12 - Israel pressed ahead with airstrikes against Hamas militants today as helicopters blasted a car with rockets in Gaza City, killing seven people, including a Hamas leader who was targeted, along with his wife and 3-year-old daughter.

Today's attack came as Israelis buried their dead from Wednesday's suicide bombing by a Hamas militant, who struck on a bus traveling along one of Jerusalem's main commercial arteries, killing 16 civilians and wounding about 100.

This week's bloodshed has been some of the worst in months and has imperiled the Middle East peace plan that was formally rolled out just last week at a summit meeting in Jordan.

In a grimly familiar pattern, signs of diplomatic progress have been greeted almost immediately with an escalation in attacks by extremists throughout the 32 months of violence.

Hamas, which has always opposed peace talks with Israel, rejected the latest peace plan and has renewed its efforts to carry out violence, bringing forceful Israeli reprisals.

A week ago, Israeli and Palestinians leaders had toned down their rhetoric and were speaking with hope about how to begin implementing the peace plan, known as the road map. Today, they are again trading bitter recriminations, with each attack increasing the likelihood that more will follow.

The Israeli helicopters appeared in the clear skies over Gaza City only hours after an Israeli cabinet meeting in which Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's government vowed to "completely wipe out" Hamas.

"Hamas leaders have no immunity, especially when this organization is doing everything it can to scuttle the political process," Tzachi Hanegbi, the minister for internal security, told the Israeli Army radio.

The Israelis struck in the Sheik Radwan neighborhood in northern Gaza City, a Hamas stronghold, and the target was Yasir Taha, described as a senior militant by Israel.

Four helicopters fired at least six missiles at his white Opel car, engulfing the vehicle in flames and leaving it a blackened skeleton. The three people in the car Mr. Taha, his wife and daughter were killed, along with four people on the street, according to witnesses and officials at Shifa Hospital.

About 25 people were injured, the hospital said.

Mr. Taha is part of a well-known Hamas family, and his father and brother are currently being held in Israeli prisons.

As the burnt-out car was being removed from the scene, a man on a mosque loudspeaker declared: "This is a result of the road map. We will cut off the hand of anyone who tries to stop the resistance."

In the last three days, Israel has carried out five helicopter strikes against Hamas militants traveling in cars in and around Gaza City.

Altogether, more than 20 Palestinians have been killed and more than 100 wounded. While the wanted Hamas men have been among the casualties, most of the dead and wounded have been Palestinian civilians.

This evening, an Israeli man, described in his 40's, was found dead in the West Bank near Jenin, his car and body riddled with bullets. The Israeli Army said the man, who was not identified, had been buying charcoal from Palestinians. His body was discovered by an army patrol.

Meanwhile, both Israelis and Palestinians mourned their dead from Wednesday's carnage. Two Israeli helicopter attacks in Gaza left 10 dead Wednesday.

In Gaza City, funerals were ending and some of the mourners were in the streets this afternoon near the area of today's attack.

Israel launched its latest campaign against Hamas on Tuesday, two days after Hamas took part in shooting attacks on Sunday that killed five Israeli soldiers.

Hamas called on foreigners to leave Israel for their own safety. "The Jerusalem attack is the beginning of a new series of revenge attacks," the group said in a statement faxed to Reuters. "We call on international citizens to leave the Zionist entity immediately to preserve their lives."

Just a week ago, the overall level of violence was down, and the discussion was focused on the initial phase of the road map, which calls for Palestinian security forces to act against militants, and for Israel to withdraw troops from Palestinian areas.

Israel said it was prepared to pull back in places where the Palestinians could resume control. But the Palestinians say they have been badly weakened by Israeli military operations during the months of fighting and are not yet in position to take over.

Avi Dichter, head of Shin Bet, Israel's security service, said the Palestinians still have 15,000 security personnel, most of them in Gaza and under the control of the Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat, Israel radio reported.

Mr. Dichter said that this number was sufficient for the Palestinians to keep areas calm, and that Israel should not accept the Palestinians' position that they are unprepared to act. He said Mr. Arafat has not relinquished control of the security forces to Mr. Abbas and his government.



Suicide Bomber; A Sudden, Violent End for a Promising Youth

The New York Times. June 13, 2003, Friday By Ian Fisher (NYT); Foreign Desk
Late Edition - Final, Section A, Page 10, Column 1

EBRON, West Bank, June 12 - The puzzling thing was that he studied so much recently, his family said, as if he was planning on having a future.

The night before Abdel Madi Shabneh, just 18, blew himself up on the No. 14/A bus in Jerusalem, killing 17 others in the process, he sat preparing for his final high school English examination. He made no comment, his mother said, on the day's news that Israeli helicopters tried to assassinate a top leader in the Islamic militant group Hamas, Abdel Aziz Rantisi.

The next morning he merely told his mother and family he had to study more for the test.

"He took some papers and said he needed to photocopy them for his exam," his mother, Rahmeh, 54, said today. "He said, `I'll be right back.' He took his English book with him. He never disappeared before. This was the first time."

The next verified sighting of Mr. Shabneh came that evening when he lay dead in Jerusalem's Jaffa Road, wearing the black pants and a prayer shawl of an Orthodox Jew, the Israeli police say.

In the intensifying struggle between Hamas and Israel, Mr. Shabneh's attack is widely viewed, though Israeli officials dispute it, as retribution for the attack on Mr. Rantisi. But to his family, it is a mystery how this tall and thin young man with a wispy moustache, who planned to study electronics in college this year, ended up on that bus.

He is just the latest young man from this tense city south of Jerusalem to have attacked on Israelis on behalf of Hamas. Since January, more than 10 young men from Hebron have carried out such attacks. Many of them knew each other from the soccer team at the Jihad Mosque in the Abu Katila neighborhood. Five of them, including Mr. Shabneh, were suicide bombers.

A senior Israeli security official said tonight there was no immediate evidence that Mr. Shabneh was linked to the other bombers, but he said the possibility was being considered. He said intelligence officials were not certain why Hamas militants, always active in Hebron, have been especially so in recent months.

"They always had strong bases over there," the official said. "From time to time they have this ability to carry out these attacks that are very successful."

Family members said today they did not know he was a member of Hamas, and said he did not play for the Jihad Mosque team. He did love to play soccer, they said. "Wherever he goes," his mother said, "he plays soccer."

In interviews here today, though, his family was vague about what teams he played for. One family member said he played on a school team. Another said it was for a mosque team in his own neighborhood, Jabal al Rahmeh. One cousin said that a member of one of the teams was a suicide bomber, but did not provide any details.

Efforts to find his teammates here today were unsuccessful. Several people in his neighborhood said local soccer players had gone into hiding for fear of being arrested.

Unlike some families of Palestinian suicide bombers, who proudly proclaim their children "martyrs," Mr. Shabneh's family seemed more bewildered than anything else.

"I don't think this will achieve anything," said his cousin, Zakaria Shabneh, referring to the suicide attack. "Unfortunately this will bring us backward instead of forward."

He was the youngest of nine children; their father died five years ago. Neither he nor his two other brothers had ever been arrested, the family said, although family members said the brothers and several cousins were arrested after the bombing. Until Wednesday night, he had never even spent a night away from home, his mother said.

"I can't imagine how he managed to get to Jerusalem," his mother said. "If I knew I would have prevented him from doing this. Do you think a mother can accept to lose her son?"

While she said he had never expressed any particular interest in Hamas or any other militant group, she said he was affected by the hard life in Hebron, a city of 130,000 Palestinians with Israeli soldiers protecting an enclave of 400 hard-line Jewish settlers.

"Everyone is affected by the general atmosphere," she said. "Everything surrounding us is very difficult. When they go to school, they are checked. When you go around the neighborhood, there are roadblocks. When you watch television, you see suffering."

And she said he often commented when young Palestinian men carried out suicide attacks against Israelis. "These people who became martyrs, when he heard about them, he said, `He's lucky.' "

Today, a video appeared of Mr. Shabneh, in T-shirt and jeans, but carrying a Kalashnikov rifle over his shoulder and wearing the green Hamas headband that reads, "God is great." In a voice more a boy's than a man's, he gave a short speech that followed Hamas in rejecting the peace plan and urging a continuation of armed resistance to Israel.

"The martyrs have changed the course of this conflict, and declared that there is no alternative to resistance and no exchange for our full homeland, without divisions or separations," he said. "We won't give up our smallest right, whatever the price is, whatever the sacrifice. Our steadfast Palestinian people, you are great, your jihad is great. You are standing like men, providing heroes in the battlefield."



Israeli Assault on Hamas Leaves 7 More Dead

The New York Times. June 13, 2003. By Greg Myre

JERUSALEM, June 12 - Israel's Army escalated the battle with Hamas militants today, blasting a Palestinian car with helicopter-fired missiles in Gaza City and killing seven people, including the Hamas leader who was the target, his wife and his 3-year-old daughter.

The attack came as Israelis and Palestinians were still burying their dead from Wednesday's carnage. A Palestinian suicide bomber struck a bus on one of Jerusalem's main commercial arteries, killing 16 civilians. A 17th victim died of wounds today. In Gaza, two Israeli helicopter strikes directed at Hamas militants killed 10 Palestinians on Wednesday.

The bloodshed has been some of the worst in months and has imperiled the Middle East peace plan formally launched just last week at a summit meeting in Jordan attended by President Bush.

For a few days, Israeli and Palestinian leaders spoke with hope about how to begin carrying out the peace plan, known as the road map. Today, they were again trading bitter recriminations, with each attack increasing the likelihood that more will follow.

In a grimly familiar pattern, signs of diplomatic progress have been greeted almost immediately with a surge in violence throughout the 32 months of fighting.

The government-owned Israel Radio said the army had been ordered to "completely wipe out" the Hamas movement after the bus bombing in Jerusalem. The radio report said every Hamas militant was now considered a target, "from the lowliest member to Sheik Ahmed Yassin," the group's founder and spiritual guide.

Israel says it is moving against Hamas because the new Palestinian prime minister, Mahmoud Abbas, has proved unable or unwilling to rein in militants since he assumed office six weeks ago.

Israel's prime minister, Ariel Sharon, said at a cabinet meeting that Mr. Abbas was "a chick that hasn't grown its feathers yet," according to a cabinet official who briefed reporters. "We have to help him fight terror until his feathers grow," he was quoted as saying.

But Palestinians said the Israeli actions had badly undercut Mr. Abbas and had made it impossible for him to resume cease-fire talks with Palestinian militants. Mr. Abbas has so far ruled out using force against the militants.

Ziad Abu Amr, the Palestinian minister of culture, who was in charge of the cease-fire talks until they broke down, said that "I don't think at this time we can talk about a truce" with the Palestinian factions. Hamas said the violence was likely to worsen, and it called on foreigners to leave Israel.

"The Jerusalem attack is the beginning of a new series of revenge attacks," the group said in a statement. "We call on international citizens to leave the Zionist entity immediately to preserve their lives."

The White House, which rebuked Israel on Tuesday for trying to kill a top Hamas leader, today blamed Palestinian extremists for the violence.

"The issue is not Israel; the issue is not the Palestinian Authority," Ari Fleischer, Mr. Bush's spokesman, said during a presidential trip to Connecticut. "The issue is Hamas; the terrorists are Hamas."

In Gaza, the Israeli helicopters struck in the Sheik Radwan neighborhood, a Hamas stronghold, and the target was Yasir Taha, described by Israel as a senior militant.

Four helicopters fired at least six missiles at his white Opel, engulfing it in flames and leaving it a blackened skeleton. The three people in the car - Mr. Taha, his wife and his daughter - were killed, along with four people on the street, according to witnesses and officials at Shifa Hospital. About 30 people were wounded, the hospital said.

As a frenzied crowd went through the wreckage, young men pulled out a toddler's bottle, a pacifier and small shoes and waved them at the television cameras.

As the burned-out car was removed from the scene, a man on a mosque loudspeaker declared: "This is a result of the road map. We will cut off the hand of anyone who tries to stop the resistance." The Israeli Army said in a statement today that it did not know Mr. Taha's wife and child were in the car.

Mr. Taha was part of a well-known Hamas family. When Israeli troops came looking for him in March, in the Bureij refugee camp south of Gaza City, they did not find Mr. Taha, but arrested his father and three brothers after a clash. The army said it had found explosives inside the family home, which was demolished by the military.

In the last three days, Israel has carried out five helicopter strikes against Hamas militants traveling in cars in and around Gaza City.

Altogether, more than 20 Palestinians have been killed and more than 100 wounded in those attacks. While the wanted Hamas men have been among the casualties, most of the dead and wounded have been Palestinian civilians.

Hamas, which has always opposed talks with Israel, rejected the latest peace plan and continued its attacks.

Israel launched its latest campaign against Hamas on Tuesday, two days after Hamas took part in shooting attacks that killed five Israeli soldiers.

A week ago, the level of violence was down, and the discussion focused on the initial phase of the road map, which calls for Palestinian security forces to act against militants and for Israel to withdraw troops from Palestinian areas.

Israel said it was prepared to pull back in places where the Palestinians could resume control. But the Palestinians said they had been badly weakened by Israeli military operations during months of fighting, and were not in a position to take over.

Avi Dichter, head of the Shin Bet security service, said the Palestinians still had 15,000 security personnel, mostly in Gaza and under the control of Yasir Arafat, the Palestinian leader, the Israel radio reported.

Mr. Dichter said that this number was sufficient for the Palestinians to keep areas calm, and that Israel should not accept the Palestinian position that they were unprepared to act. He said Mr. Arafat had not relinquished control of the security forces to Mr. Abbas and his government.