Spiritual Reflections on My Friends’ Songs #1: ‘What if They’re Right?’

My good friend Rob Heath has recently released his fourth album, One More Day Above Ground. ‘What if They’re Right?’ is the closing track; here are the lyrics:

Last week Israeli soldiers shot a young Muslim boy
They didn’t know his rifle was just a toy
They rushed him off to Haifa on the Israeli side
They tried their best to save him, but tragically he died

Some people say with just one life
You can change the world
What if they’re right?

His father said young Ahmed was a forgiving soul
So in the name of peace and of his twelve year old
They would donate his body to save Israeli lives
Ignoring voices claiming that that’s who took their child

Some people say with just one life
You can change the world
What if they’re right?

In worlds like theirs where violence rules
You turn the other cheek, you’re marked a fool

His dad said, “If we want peace somewhere it has to start
With this my son has entered every Israeli heart”
The army said they’re sorry, they braced for violence
This time unlike the others, there would be no revenge

Some people say with just one life
You can change the world
What if they’re right?


This song is based on a true story, which you can read
here. To sum it up, twelve-year old Ahmad Al Khatib was mistakenly shot in the head by Israeli forces at a distance of 130 metres; it was later shown that he was carrying a toy gun that looked very realistic. His family, rather than crying for revenge, donated his organs to three Israeli children who were waiting for transplants. His father said that his decision was rooted in memories of his brother, who died at the age of 24 while waiting for a liver transplant, and that he hoped the donation would send a message of peace to Israelis and Palestinians.

Ahmad died of his wounds on Saturday Nov. 5th 2005. On Sunday Nov. 6th, three children underwent surgery to receive his lungs, heart, and liver.

The father of 12-year-old Samah Gadban, who had been waiting five years for a heart, called the donation a “gesture of love.”

Khatib said he hoped to meet the recipients of his son’s organs. “The most important thing is that I see the person who received the organs, to see him alive.”

Gadban said he will invite Khatib and his family to a party for Samah when she leaves the hospital. “I want to thank him and his family. With their gift, I would like for them to think that my daughter is their daughter,” Gadban said.

Read the rest here. There’s also an article on Mid East News blog here.

Rob’s song pretty well tells the story straight, but he adds his own slant in the chorus:

Some people say with just one life
You can change the world
What if they’re right?

Cynics might ask how this action changed the world; after all, Israelis and Palestinians were busy killing each other again a few weeks ago, when the IDF responded to Hamas rocket attacks with an invasion of Gaza that killed over a thousand people, including four hundred children like Ahmad Al Khatib.

But fifty years of tit for tat between Israelis and Palestinians haven’t changed the world either. Both sides have been working for five decades on the assumption that they could deliver that knockout blow that would forever destroy their opponents’ capacity to hurt them. It hasn’t happened. All they’ve managed to do is to deepen the hatred of a new generation of potential soldiers and potential terrorists.

How is this hatred to be changed? Jesus told us how:

You have heard that it was said, “You shall love your neighbour and hate your enemy”. But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous. (Matthew 5:43-45).

To those whose hearts are full of hate and the thirst for revenge, these sentiments seem foolish, as Rob points out:

In worlds like theirs where violence rules
You turn the other cheek, you’re marked a fool

Are they right? Were Ahmad’s parents foolish? Perhaps – but think about this: When the parents of Samah Gadban think about Palestinians, they will no longer think only of the terrorists who fire rockets into southern Israel or the suicide bombers who blow themselves up in crowded restaurants. They will also think of Ahmad and his parents. For all I know, they might even have kept in touch with them over the last couple of years. And so, in a small way, a bridge has been built between the two races; for the four families involved, demonisation of the other is no longer the last word.

Yes – in a small way, the world has changed. Just think how much more it might change if we all put Jesus’ teaching into practice.

(By the way, you can listen to this song on Rob’s website here; simply go to ‘The Listening Post’ and follow the links).

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