Lies That Birthright Told Me

by Ricky Riot

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"Birthright" refers to Birthright Israel, but really means anything that promotes the idea that Jews = State of Israel. This is not good for the Jews, or for anybody else. I wrote this song to encourage others to speak out against the atrocities committed in our name. To do this, we must also fight against anti-semitism, and also stand up for the Palestinian people. People born on the land, such as myself, I also implore to stand up for the African refugees, as we were once refugees. And the State has made refugees of Palestinians. And the western capitalist system, from which white people benefit, is creating refugees all around the world. And nation-states have been built on the backs of people of color, Jews and non-Jews, and have made Jews of color, their struggles, and their cultures invisible. Because our grievances are all connected. Because our oppressions are not mutually exclusive. Because we will not be divided and conquered. And I implore white non-Jews to organize alongside your Jewish friends as well as your Arab friends and learn about how identities intersect with our justice work. Also, non-Jews, read this: I don't agree with line 3 of number 5 but believe that people who do can still be part of the same efforts.


I grew up a good Zionist with one message in each ear
One said “we are the strongest,” and the other “live in fear”
They said everyone is equal here, first class citizens
Unless you’re Druze or Ethiopian, Yemenite, or Bedouin*

We’re a civilized country unlike those barbarians
We won’t kill you for being trans or Queer or lesbian
And what if it gets taken over by folks who aren’t us?
This isn’t really something we’re able to discuss

And nothing can compare to this land and all its splendor
Our beauty queen is Black and our pop star is transgender
But all of this pinkwashing is no longer gonna hold me
Oh the lies, lies, lies, lies, lies, lies that Birthright told me

I don’t believe that continuity is really what’s at stake
With helicopters looking for Dead Land they can take
Occupation is the legal term, it’s well and alive
The pull-out method didn’t work in two thousand and five

So whose life do you value, your enemy’s or your brother’s
Is this not how you end up with some lives worth more than others?
But don’t you mind those trailers, they’re just for security
They’ve only been here 40 years, we’re still a democracy

And all you lefty fools are pussies, leave this to the military
Our strongest poster boys, they get the cutest secretaries
And that story we've recited is no longer gonna hold me
Oh the lies, lies, lies, lies, lies, lies that Birthright told me

Don’t do like the nations with their creepy altar sex
Can't hear the messages of our sacred texts
Did we really drive out seven nations and their wicked ways
Is there anything that we could learn from those Canaan days

It says build cities of refuge but to follow this we fail
I’m sure it doesn’t mean throw all the refugees in jail
But we're just trying to survive, I won't ask stupid questions
About what's behind those doors and in this land in your possession

And my liturgy has stayed the same but wouldn’t it be great
That when I say "Yisrael" that's the people, not the state
And when I see “rebuild Jerusalem” I don’t mean peace alone
But an end to this idea that land is something you can own

They said “a land without a people for a people without land”
All the atheists agree that this is G!d’s command
And all the fear and trauma is no longer gonna hold me
Oh the lies, lies, lies, lies, lies, lies that Birthright told me

*Which four identities I name can vary, as the list got too long.


released August 4, 2015
Lyrics, music, piano, vocals, recording by Ricky Riot.




Ricky Riot Boston, Massachusetts

Ricky Riot (who is actually going by Itai these days) played in the former band Schmekel. (, the world's only all-trans schtick-rock band. Now, he writes about overthrowing capitalism and the patriarchy. Look out for the budding project Klezmermaid, recordings coming soon! ... more

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