Freedom for Palestine is performed by a specially assembled group, One World. It features Maxi Jazz from Faithless, Jamie Cato, FSK and the Durban Gospel Choir from South Africa.
The single will be officially released on 3 July, but it is already upsetting the right. Bigoted Fox News commentator Glenn Beck actually wept as he told viewers the song is “propaganda” that dares to accuse Israel of “occupying” the West Bank.
He went on to bemoan the fact that more than 5,000 people had already “liked” the song on a Facebook page.
Dave told Socialist Worker, “That’s the best bit of advertising we’ve had! Before, I’d only heard his name when Lupe Fiasco rapped, ‘Glenn Beck is a racist’. So a huge thanks to Beck—he’s done us a favour getting the song out there.
“I became interested in the issue of Palestine about ten years ago. Faithless were in Israel. Before our gig in Tel Aviv we had a day off so I visited Gaza.
“I also saw how the occupation of the West Bank impacts on people’s lives.
“I wanted to do whatever I could in solidarity with the Palestinians.”
Last year’s Faithless tour was again scheduled to visit Israel.
Dave said, “We had discussions inside the band and decided to join the cultural boycott. We not only refused to play but determined to use music to build solidarity.”
Dave got the idea for the single after meeting Jerry Dammers, who wrote the Special AKA’s “Free Nelson Mandela”.
That song became the anthem of Britain’s movement to end the racist South African apartheid regime in the 1980s.
“I thought we should do something similar for Palestine,” Dave explained. “It has been a year in the making, but the timing is rather fortunate. Last month the radio station BBC1 Xtra radio censored the words ‘Free Palestine’ in a track by Mic Righteous.”
In the context of the revolutions in North Africa and the Middle East, Israel’s position is being called more into question.
Dave went on, “The most important single factor for the liberation of Palestine is the revolutionary process in Egypt.
“Even president Barack Obama has had to pay lip service to the demand for Israel to return to 1967 borders.
“He recognises that right now the people are the real power brokers in the region.”
There is a long and proud history of radical music contributing to campaigns for justice and articulating the anger of ordinary people.
The group Faithless itself recorded the anti-war song “Mass Destruction” during the huge movement against the Iraq war.
It pointed out the hypocrisy of Western intervention: “Whether Halliburton or Enron or anyone/Greed is a weapon of mass destruction”.
Dave said, “That song was made because the movement was so strong. But it’s easy for big business to co-opt music, even that with a radical message.
“If you want to make political music you have to be aware of the ability of the system to sell everything back to us for profit.”
The mainstream media and Western governments distort the occupation of Palestine. Dave thinks that the first step to winning the argument about the cultural boycott is telling the truth about the situation.
“You have to start with the politics,” he said. “There is an idea that it is a battle with two equals at loggerheads. Many people don’t know about the theft of Palestinian land, the illegal settlements, the persecution and repression of Palestinians or the prison that Gaza has become.
“Israel is a heavily armed, Western-backed state. That’s the starting point.
“There are lots of things that people can do to support Palestine. Downloading the song is just one of them. If it gets into the charts there is more chance of it being played on the radio, challenging the censorship of pro-Palestine music.
“We want to encourage people to explore the issues for themselves and hearing the song can be part of that.
“And it is the hardest punch you can land for Palestine for 79p!”
See video at www.freedomoneworld.com
See Dave Randall’s video blog from Faithless’s last tour at www.vimeo.com/channels/105704