The Guardian 15 October 2004
Why I’m playing Britain’s first major gig for Palestine
Tomorrow our band Primal Scream, together with Spiritualized and some other special guests, are playing in London for the children of Palestine. As far as I know, it’s the first time that a benefit gig has been staged on this scale in Britain for the Palestinian people.
It is often said that the Palestinian issue is so difficult and sensitive that it’s better not to get involved. But the truth is, it’s not. It’s easy. There is no shortage of musicians ready to show their support for the Palestinians at this time in their struggle. Ian Brown, Super Furry Animals, Mogwai, Peter Doherty, Massive Attack (3D is DJing) and many others wanted to join us, but couldn’t because of other commitments.
The truth is that most people can see what is taking place on the ground in the Middle East. And they can see who needs our support. Everyone knows who is under the boot and who’s got the mouthful of broken glass. The Palestinians are a prisoner nation, refugees and exiles treated like ghosts. Now we want them to feel our solidarity.
Of course, it’s not just a question of giving them money. One reason we have got involved with the Hoping Foundation is that it supports Palestinian children in the refugee camps. Generation after generation has been there since 1948, scattered all over: Lebanon, Jordan, Syria and in occupied Palestine. From Shatila to Gaza, it is these kids I see when I think of Palestine. They have been ignored and excluded, growing up without any hope. We want to tell them we are with them, that they are not alone.
The Hoping Foundation is the kind of organisation that asks community groups working with children to tell us what they need, rather than telling them what’s good for them. It is a direct relationship and one that respects the people in the camps and their right to have their voices heard.
When I was growing up in Scotland, my dad, a print workers’ union leader, made trips to Nicaragua to support the Sandinistas. He would persuade factory owners to donate paper, and he sent school books, pens and jotters to the children. It was the obvious thing to do then, and it’s the same today with Palestine. The way it looks to us, every Palestinian is a political prisoner — and every Palestinian has the right to be free.
The band has been wanting to do this for a long time. We are all so upset and appalled with what is going on there. Of course, we’re not the first musicians in this country to try to use our music to help those who need support. John Lennon used his name and money to oppose the Vietnam war and support the workers on strike. If Lennon were still on this earth, he’d be doing Palestine. In fact, he’d be rocking the Brixton Academy tomorrow night.
Bobby Gillespie is the lead singer with Primal Scream; the concert, Hoping for Palestine, is at the Brixton Academy tomorrow at 8pm.
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