I thought I'd back up and give a little overview, for whatever it's worth, about why I'm putting out this CD, Falasteen Habibti. (Additional "because" statements welcome!)
Why be an activist?
Because life could be so much better. Because we'll soon go extinct if we don't change everything. Because humans and other animals are beautiful and shouldn't go extinct. Because sitting idly by is depressing. Because it feels good to do something. Because we inherently want to help each other, and that's a good thing. Because the really cool kids are at the demos.
Why play music?
Because we humans are inherently musical creatures. Because it feels good, and feeling good is important. Because it brings us together and helps us feel like we're part of something, and that's crucially important, that sense of community. Because music is central to culture and culture is central to any movement or other community. Because we need it or we'll fall apart (whether we know it or not).
Why write songs about the news and stuff like that?
Because we need to reach hearts and minds at the same time. Because words, when sung, go straight to the emotional centers of the brain. Because people can learn from and listen to songs in a different, and generally better, way than the way we listen to other things. Because a song is the fastest and most effective way to transport someone to a place they've never been. Because people just don't know about a lot of this stuff. Because they'll listen to a song much more readily than they'll read a book or buy a plane ticket to a war zone. Because the rhetoric just turns people off, but songs can slip under the rhetorical radar.
Why write songs about Palestine?
Because it's all very personal, so it's easy to write about. Because Palestinians are people, and people matter. Because the corporate press lies about it every day, and someone has to say something. Because almost no one else is doing it (in English). Because other people are scared or ignorant, and music is the best antidote for both of those things. Because I didn't want to play at your stupid festival, anyway.
Why these particular songs?
- Because the war in Gaza did not start with Hamas firing rockets.
- Because the Israeli occupation is the problem, not religious differences.
- Because Israel doesn't want to say where its national borders are, and nobody talks about that fact on the news.
- Because the settlements are illegal and immoral and Sodastream should be boycotted.
- Because there are some shocking similarities between modern-day Israel and Nazi Germany. Because such comparisons, while inexact, are far from ridiculous.
- Because the founders of the Holy Land Foundation are heroic men who should be running a large foundation, like they were before, not rotting in a maximum-security prison in Texas.
- Because Israel has a longstanding, proven history of a complete disregard for Arab life, and the IDF systematically and purposefully bombs UN compounds on a very regular basis, and almost nobody wants to point out this obvious pattern of behavior.
- Because the men and women of the Mavi Marmara were not lunatics, they were heroic people trying to help other heroic people who are resisting a vicious, racist siege by a vicious, racist government.
- Because the Separation Barrier is an Apartheid Wall.
- Because Palestinian Christians also live under the brutal occupation, not just Muslims.
- Because Khader Adnan was hunger-striking against the horrific policy of indefinite detention without charge. Because he was aware of the history of British detention policies in Ireland. Because these comparisons are important in deepening our understanding of the world, as is the fact that Khader Adnan is a knowledgable and heroic figure, not like whatever you've likely been told, if anything, about the man or his hunger strike.
- Because suicide bombers are human beings, generally motivated by a very real and very deep sense of personal loss, not religion. Because most people don't seem to get that vitally important fact.
- Because Israel has a massive arsenal of weapons of mass destruction of the very worst kind – nuclear weapons. Because people should know who Mordechai Vanunu is, because he is an inspiring man and did a very important thing, and is still paying the price for it.
- Because the Palestinian diaspora has suffered and continues to suffer greatly, especially the millions languishing in refugee camps in squalid conditions since 1948. Because people need to know about them, and events like the massacre at Sabra and Shatila.
- Because it's a very simple, very basic, human thing that the Palestinians want: they want to go home. Because anything that simple needs to be expressed in a song.
- Because the image of the old Palestinian woman with a key around her neck to the home she was evicted from in what is now Israel is a powerful, iconic image.
- Because the story of the brave people from all around the world who keep going to Palestine to stand with the Palestinians as they try to live through and resist the occupation is a story that needs to be told.
- Because Israeli snipers shoot children on purpose for no reason on a regular basis, and people need to know about that.
- Because chickens and eggs are important, and people need to know that the event that kicked off the Second Intifada was a massacre of children carried out by the IDF in Jerusalem.
- Because there is no question that all people, including Palestinians and Israeli Jews and everybody else in the world, have lots in common, and are very capable of coexistence under the right circumstances. Because stories about coexistence and cooperation are important and need to be told.
- Because for those of us of Jewish lineage, what Jews in Israel are doing in our name feels very personal. Because Israeli conduct since 1948 has been antithetical to the supposed lessons of the Nazi Holocaust for all of us.
Why make a CD with only songs about Palestine?
Because for over a decade people have been asking me at shows if there is a CD that just has all my Palestine songs on one CD. Because I'm finally getting around to it. Because the bombs are falling faster than ever, and I feel even more than usual like something has to be done. Because music is important, and therefore CDs are important, because a lot of people still don't listen to music any other way. Because a CD or other actual physical thing can work well as something to sell to raise money, and I wanted to have some kind of vehicle to raise funds for the Independent Middle East Media Center.