The Translators’ Network for Linguistic Diversity

SOUTH OF THE BORDER  (Latin America and the Caribbean)
IMPERIUM  (Global Issues)
THE LAND OF CANAAN  (Palestine, Israel)
UMMA  (Arab World, Islam)
IN THE BELLY OF THE WHALE  (Activism in the Imperialist Metropolis)
THE MOTHER CONTINENT  (Africa, Indian Ocean)

TYPHOON ZONE  (Asia, Pacific Basin)
WITH A K AS IN KALVELLIDO (Diary of a Proletarian Cartoonist)
STORMING BRAINS  (Culture, Communication)
TLAXCALA'S REFERENCE ZONE  (Glossaries, Dictionaries, Maps)

Español Français English Deutsch Português Italiano Català
عربي Svenska فارسی Ελληνικά русски TAMAZIGHT OTHER LANGUAGES
Interview with the the Usamerican indie singer

David Rovics : "Israel is the most Racist Society I've ever seen"


Gaza is undergoing the traumatic aftershocks of appalling assault of Israeli forces on its defenseless and subjugated people. Nobody could have predicted the outcomes of this lethal conflict when the first shells and bombs were unleashed on the houses of Gaza.

The entire world was full of turmoil and confusion during the 22 days of nightmarish raids on Gaza which resulted nothing but the massacre of 1300 people, collective destruction of infrastructure, hospitals, public places, mosques, houses, schools and shelters, displacement of thousands of people and spiritual devastation of children who should go on with the rest of their lives, lacking either of father or mother, or even both. 

Although we will all lend a hand and cooperate fervently to reconstruct Gaza and replenish the hearts of its people with hope, love and faith, it's true that Gaza has lost its glitter, vivacity and life. However, now we are endowed with a precious scale of measuring the conscience of those around us. Thousands of those high-rankings and influentials who kept silent and went on a low profile to not be accused of anti-Semitism and preserve their repugnant links with Israel, while they could stop the whole carnage by their one finger point, and millions of those who chanted their support, patronage and resistance courageously. From Rafael Nadal to Freddy Kanoute, from the Brazilian Kaka to Iker Casilas, from the Irish Prime Minister to David Rovics...

David Rovics

David Rovics, is an American folklore singer and political activist from Connecticut. Although most of Rovics' work is fully-copyrighted and commercially-distributed, Rovics has made all of his recorded music freely available on downloadable mp3 files from his website. He encourages the free distribution of his work by all non-profit means to promote his work and spread political messages.

He has strong anti-Zionist, anti-Imperialist feelings and is a regular advocate of peace, establishment in the Middle East without the intervention of external hands; so far, has performed a bunch of concerts worldwide to dedicate their interests and benefits to the oppressed people of Palestine.

In an exclusive interview with Tehran Times, David Rovics condemned the aggressive attacks on Gaza and proposed a lot of interesting subjects about the backgrounds, reasons and consequences of such atrocities in the region.

Following you can read the whole text of interview with David Rovics, the American humanitarian singer.

Dear David, what's your comments on the horrendous, terrible incursion of Israeli military on the civilians of Gaza and the heart-beating carnage of civilians, including women, children and innocent people?

I'm so horrified by what Israel has done to the people of Gaza, and also horrified by what Israel regularly does to the people of the west bank, Lebanon and other countries. Israel's war against the Palestinian people was not a response to the home-made, ineffective rocket fire coming out of Gaza. Israel's war is the reason for the rocket fire in the first place. The idea that Israel is 'retaliating' is outrageous and if it were retaliating, the retaliation is so far beyond disproportionate that anyone talking like that can only be viewed as some kind of sick comedian.

Israel's whole modus operandi is collective punishment, and unfortunately it is undoubtedly the case that not only the Zionist leadership but also many regular Israeli people view Arab life as dispensable.

US vetoed the anti-Israeli resolution of Security Council two times, as it had done several times before. It didn't allow the UN to impose embargo on Israel for its belligerent massacre of Palestinians. What's the reason?

The double standards of both 'democratic' and 'republican' administrations throughout the history of U.S. relations with Israel and the Middle East have been staggering. The U.S. supports a government which has hundreds of nuclear weapons and regularly makes war against other countries. And without this support of the U.S. Israel would not be able to do the things it does. Meanwhile, iron, which has not attacked another country in 2500 years I believe, is punished terribly in many ways by the U.S. for pursuing a nuclear program. I don't support nuclear weapons and I think they should all be banned from the face of the earth, but the U.S. double standard here is outrageous and is one of many instances that demonstrate why the U.S. government has no moral credibility whatsoever.

The American media pretend that they are independent and non-aligned to government; however, they simply censor and withhold all of the news regarding to the criticism of American-Israeli lobby, anti-Israeli remarks of world officials, demonstrations and condemnations. Does it mean that the American media are somehow governmental, while disguising themselves under the mask of independence?

Not exactly, I'd say rather that the government is largely corporate-controlled, and so is the media. It would however be an oversimplification to say that the media 'withhold all of the news' regarding criticism of Israel by world officials, etc. In fact, this is not true. What might be called the 'evil genius' of the American corporate media and the American system in general is that it's not entirely monolithic. Voices speaking out against Israel do occasionally get heard in the corporate media, thus giving a lot of people a sense that the media is fair. The reality is that overwhelmingly the media represents pro-Israel voices, and very rarely does one hear the critical voices. That way the media can insure that most Americans are terribly ill-informed, while still allowing many Americans to live under the illusion that the media is not actually censored. In fact, I'd say that keeping critical voices out of the media 95% of the time is much more effective in brainwashing a population than keeping those voices out 100% of the time.

In any case, the corporate media is not independent, though many of the good journalists working for it wish it were. It serves the interests of the elite, even if it does allow a bit of dissenting voices to be heard now and then.

What's in your view, the main reason behind the unconditional and overall vindication that the US government purveys to Israel, even in the event that Israel commits such a multitude of evident crimes and genocides? Why it does not deal with Israel such as other countries?

I often wonder this myself. I mean, generally the U.S. government's foreign policy represents U.S. corporate interests. You can see this over and over in the history of U.S. foreign policy. When the United Fruit Company wanted the government of Guatemala overthrown, the CIA overthrew it. When the oil companies wanted Mossadegh's overthrown, the CIA put the shah into power and so on. But given the economic importance of U.S. relations with Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries, why does the U.S. government insist on such unequivocal support for Israeli apartheid and the Israeli slaughter of Arabs?

I'd say the answer is not simple, but actually quite multi-faceted. Partly it's that the U.S. leadership doesn't trust Arab regimes, even 'friendly' ones, and wants to have a more 'European' ally in the region. Partly it's that the U.S. likes to play with fire, and wants to keep Israel strong in order to constantly demonstrate to the rest of the region what can happen to them if they fall out of line. Partly the U.S. supports Israel because it undermines the so-called democratic movements in the Middle East as long as undemocratic regimes can claim Israel as the source of their problems.

It is more difficult for a democratic movement to succeed in opposing monarchies and dictatorships, and of course the U.S. government does not like democracy either at home or abroad). Partly U.S. support for Israel stems from the profits made by the military-industrial complex from this support. Billions of dollars of arms sales every year to Israel alone. Partly it's about a fundamentally racist attitude many in the powers-that-be have towards Arabs and Muslims in general. And last but not least, partly U.S. support for Israel stems from the power of AIPAC and the confusion of many Jewish Americans around Israel, what it stands for, why it exists and how it behaves. In many cases 'confusion' would be a very generous term, and other stronger words might be more appropriate, such as 'racist' or 'fascist.'

Israel claimed that it just seeks retaliation against Hamas by raiding on Gaza, while we see that it has closed the Rafah crossing, prevents the admittance of food, cash and pharmacy into Gaza. What's this obvious contradiction for?

Israel is blatantly lying, and is engaged in the long-standing practice of collective punishment. The slaughter of the people of Gaza currently underway has nothing to do with the things Israel says it's about. Israel's policy towards the Palestinian people is genocidal in nature.

So, How can the artists, by using their means of creativity, novelty and their delicate sense of inventiveness, prevent the world from moving toward more aggression, repugnance and violence? What's their moral and spiritual duty in this sensitive period of time about the people of Gaza?

I think one of the main roles of artists in a situation like this is to use the media images that everybody is seeing and make sense of them, put them into proper context. When on TV people see the skies lighting up and explosions in the distance, it's the job of the artists and the authentic journalists to describe the carnage that results on the ground. Most Americans will never leave north America; they won't even go to Europe to at least experience a somewhat better media and somewhat more educated, more critical people, and they certainly will never go to the Middle East, they will never experience war, never have their friends and family tortured and killed, never know what it's like to have their houses demolished by tanks. It's our job to bring this reality to them as best we can without really being able to do that.

Music, theater, poetry and other art forms are perhaps uniquely suited to doing this. One of my favorite means of doing this is to appeal to the familiar to describe the unfamiliar, such as in songs I've written such as 'Jenin,' 'my daughter,' and others. Once people are emotionally sucked in by familiar images, they are then unwittingly perhaps ready to viscerally experience the unfamiliar. Once they have identified with the humanity of the little girl being put to bed by her mother, they are ready, whether or not they know it, to experience some of the pain of the little girl's father when she and her mother are suddenly killed by a fighter jet.

What's your anticipation about the prospect of Israeli regime with this vicious and savage approach which it has taken toward the world? Of course the Israeli regime is not representing the people thereof; so is it going to survive with its current stance that is arousing a global hatred and contempt toward itself?

Israel is the most racist society I have ever spent time in. There are many reasons why this is the case, and it's not simple. I have no idea what the future holds, but it seems to me that positive change could come from many different potential developments. One is that many Jews don't want to live in Israel; furthermore, most Jews in the world don't feel particularly connected to Israel, according to polls I've read, and most Israelis don't want to live in the settlements. This threatens the idea of Zionist expansion. Also, Palestinians have a much higher birth rate than Israeli Jews, which threatens the democratic underpinning of Israeli society. But it seems to me the situation is most likely to change not from within Israel, but from within either the U.S. or the Arab world. Either the U.S. or the Arab world, with decent leadership in either, could change everything. Israel can't do what it does without US support. Also the U.S can't do what it does without the Arab world being terribly divided, without regimes like Saudi Arabia being motivated primarily by money rather than by any love of their fellow Arabs. I don't know when the U.S. might have a better government or when the Arab leadership will come together; however I wish I did!

And finally, what's your personal agenda about such a disaster which is underway in Gaza? Do you intend to perform any concert or record any piece of music about that?

In all of the concerts I've done since Gaza has been in the headlines I've been talking and singing about the situation there more than usual, trying to take advantage of the fact that people are once again thinking about Palestine in one way or another. I'd love to do more than that, and be involved with lots of demonstrations, concert tours focused on the situation there, etc., but this will depend on people and organizations mobilizing that I can plug into. I hope there will be lots of that going on. Here in Australia where i'm finishing a tour right now, I just sang at a rally for Gaza the other day. When I return to the u.s. tomorrow I hope to do much more than that.


Source: the author

Original article published on 25 January, 2009

About the author

Kourosh Ziabari is a member of Tlaxcala, the network of translators for linguistic diversity. This translation may be reprinted as long as the content remains unaltered, and the source and author are cited.

URL of this article on Tlaxcala:

THE LAND OF CANAAN : 25/01/2009