The irony was probably lost in the Orwellian world inhabited by the BBC’s directors. When a young rapper Mic Righteous delivered the line “I can say free Palestine” on the 1Xtra hip hop show M1X, the BBC censor proved him wrong. As if it were an expletive, “Palestine” was removed from the broadcast version and replaced with the sound of a bomb blast. The BBC has offered no credible explanation for this shameful act.
Let me propose a response: this month we have the opportunity to secure a chart position for a song called “Freedom for Palestine” by a collective of musicians I have brought together called OneWorld. The song’s chorus has a South African gospel choir and members of the London Community Gospel Choir singing “Break down the wall – demand justice for all – Freedom for Palestine”. It also features Maxi Jazz from Faithless, Jamie Catto from 1 Giant Leap and musicians from around the world.
The project began after I returned recently from the West Bank. What I saw there convinced me that life for most Palestinians living under the illegal Israeli occupation is at least as bad as that endured by black South Africans in the days of apartheid. I decided to join the cultural boycott of Israel to try to use music to build solidarity with Palestine here in Britain. My inspiration was the Special AKA’s classic track “Free Nelson Mandela” which was my introduction to the anti-apartheid struggle when I was a child.
In our song Leeds-based singer LSK’s soulful lead vocal describes Gaza as a prison camp and the annexation of the West Bank by the apartheid wall. But the tone of the song is ultimately defiant and uplifting, and the music accessible and dance-y in an attempt to reach a broad audience with the message.
If we get the song in the charts, the mainstream media will find it hard to ignore or censor its message. This will help to give confidence to people up and down the country to speak up for Palestine. It will send a message to the government and all those who lend economic support or political cover to Israel that a critical mass of people in Britain want to see an end to the Israeli occupation of Palestine and the oppression of its people.
For all these reasons we hope that readers of Socialist Review will support us. You can pre-order a copy of the song from iTunes now. This is probably the best 79 pence you are ever likely to spend for Palestine. Any profits will go to the UK based charity War On Want for projects in Palestine.
But this is not primarily a fundraising exercise. This is our attempt to do what Palestinian academic and activist Edward Said urged us to do – to use the power of culture against the culture of power.
Women between revolution and counter-revolution
Animated film retells Anne Frank’s story
A pick of the highlights