Submit a Google search of “Gig for Gaza” and it will return a great many hits, which is nice to see. There is a wave of awareness and support out there for the situation in the Middle East, and being a part of it is a good thing. Not that you will hear about it loudly, the establishment it seems are keen not to let things like protests and benefit gigs to acquire much noise and attention.
Recently, I’ve made a few small donations and contributions (where finances have dictated) to Gaza and sent out positive reiki vibes to those (on both sides) trapped within what seems to be an eternal conflict, but last night I felt closer to the situation in Gaza, a lot closer.
I took it upon myself to install myself as the unofficial Sports and Social Coordinator at work, doing it for many reasons. Primarily it’s to stop myself (whilst away from the family) from becoming too bored, or too drunk or too overweight. Upon searching Time Out London, I came across an event at London Bridge titled “Gig for Gaza”, the artistes on show ranging from folk singers through poets and on to human beat-box, quite an eclectic mix. Sending out the call, I managed to get two takers so off we popped for a bite to eat before eventually finding the way to our subterranean basement home for the evening.
Katey Brooks (a relatively new artist from what I could make out) both arranged and compared the evening, struggling on through a quite unremarkable and erratic PA system, triumphing through adversity (potentially symbolic reflection of what could occur in the Middle East). Many of the folks on stage during the course of the evening had recently visited Palestine and off the back of that decided to schedule a benefit gig in the capital, with all proceeds go to Oxfam (from a relief perspective) and the Gaza Smile Project (which is a small charity working on a ‘Back to School’ project whose aim is to provide displaced children of Gaza with the means to get them back learning, the most basic of human rights a lot of us take for granted).
The emphasis of the night was not on taking sides, it was not anti-Semitic, it was not against Israel and for Palestine. The primary aim was to raise awareness and funds for the most just of causes. Of course it wasn’t just a collection of like-minded musicians there for a gig, it was an opportunity for the artists and speakers to share their collective opinion, in that they support the end of occupation, the end of oppression and the end of the escalating violence on all sides, without the persecution of any one on any side. This was a Pro-Peace event.
The artists on the night were all very good. Dennis Just Dennis a northern poet who relayed an amazing alphabet alliteration, appreciated by all (he’s got me doing it now). Tom Moriarty, an adept acoustic guitar with an amazing resemblance to Eddie Vedder from Pearl Jam (albeit at a distance and under very poor disco lighting). Suzy Conrad who was arguably the best on the night with her own breed of “Loop Pop” (which involved her creating sound loops of her own voice on the fly via a pedal board and playing them all back once recorded as she sang over the top of them). Dizreali, whose Bristolian acoustic guitar poetry and energy was welcomed by all (The Streets meets Nick Harper meets Stephen Merchant). Our host Katey Brooks played through the worst PA set-up I’ve ever heard, earning some serious kudos for her perseverance and talents. Hobbit finished off the evening, a human beat-box champion, was pretty ace too, something I’ve never heard live, he had everyone up off their zabutons.
The highlight of the night for me however was when a Palestinian man took to the stage, having recently arrived from Gaza. It was an opportunity to hear what was really going on from a real person with real experience, not something which had been bastardised, sanitised, demonised and serialised by biased media outlets with ulterior motives.
He said unsurprisingly that Gaza was a truly awful place to be right now. Over 2200 people have been killed over the last 5 weeks, well over 10,000 have been seriously injured, over ¼ of the population of Gaza have left their homes (100,000 houses being completely destroyed) and are displaced all over the region with nowhere safe to go. He stated that the wall that surrounded Gaza was twice the height of the Berlin wall, and on the Palestinian side, graffiti messages were not of blame and abuse, but of a request for peace. What should be safe zones (UN hospital and schools) are continuously being bombed further adding to the misery.
What was quite remarkable was his attitude, his level of calmness. He was quite clear in his request. All the Palestinian people want is peace. All the Palestinian people want is an end to the oppression. All the Palestinian people want is an end to the occupation of Gaza. All the Palestinian people want is access to resources (basic resources like water and more than three hours of electricity per day as the main power plant has been destroyed would do for a start) so that they can get on with life. There was no propaganda, no “we need to get them folks wot did this to us” mentality, no malice, no need for revenge or retribution, no diatribe against his oppressors. This was a Muslim man, with Muslim values, a sincere guy sharing his story and inner feelings with a collection people of really do give a shit about what goes on in this world, and in their own small way are trying to help.
I read an article a few weeks back in The Independent about the conflict, and about how the US and UK profits from the situation in the Middle East and it’s all rather sickening. From a Geo-Political perspective, all I can do is vote for the good guys next May, even if they have no chance of getting in, at least then I can truly say I tried to make a difference
So to everyone everywhere involved in conflict, I hope you find both outer and inner peace.