Saturday, November 24, 2012

Saturday Art: The Right of Return, by Doc Jazz

The music of Tariq Shadid, a Palestinian surgeon, who goes by the nom de web of Doc Jazz, is quite varied.  A self-taught musician, his unique take on aspects of the Palestinian diaspora is gaining traction on the web, and in the Low Countries.  Although recently primarily based in the Netherlands, Doc Jazz has worked in the Gulf States, and was in the USA this fall, performing benefits.  Here is what Doc Jazz wrote about a benefit in Anaheim on October 18, 2012, for the Palestine Children’s Relief Fund:
I ended this sweet little concert with the song I had written especially for PCRF’s amazing efforts: ‘Healing Hands.’ By then, it was time to move on with the other parts of the program, most importantly the reason for holding this annual gala: to raise funds for providing medical treatment for the children of Palestine.
While the impressive efforts of PCRF’s medical projects were being shown on slideshows on two large screens, the generous crowd started making its donations. I was extremely impressed to hear that when it was all over, more than a hundred thousand dollars had been raised, with expectations being expressed of reaching almost double that amount at the closing of the fundraiser.
Knowing that PCRF translates all these finances into direct medical assistance to Palestinian children, was absolutely humbling. I know that words are of enormous importance, in creating awareness for the injustice that befalls these children, but you can’t help but feel forced into a modest attitude when you see the direct relief resulting from real-life medical and surgical treatment of Palestinian children in need.
In an interview by activist author, organizer and blogger, Heather Wokusch, Doc Jazz described his musical beginnings and impetus:
Next to my full-time job as a surgeon, I devoted the larger part of my spare time to supporting the Palestinian cause in any legal way I could think of. I started writing articles for the Palestine Chronicle in 2001, the same year in which I started a website called the ‘Musical Intifadah’. Being a self-taught hobbyist musician, I wrote and recorded, in my home-studio, songs about the Palestinian situation, and published them online, and made an online collection of songs, also by other artists, about Palestine. At that time, I did not believe that speaking up for the Palestinian cause was a feasible or useful thing to do in the Netherlands, so I saw the internet as a useful means to reach out on a more global level. However, then Gretta Duisenberg, wife of the then president of the European Central Bank, did a very courageous thing here. She hung a Palestinian flag from her balcony for several weeks, which caused a small international row, so I started believing there was yet hope for the Dutch situation. I wrote a song about her brave deed in Dutch (my first song in Dutch ever), which brought me into contact with her. When I joined her on her delegation to Palestine, a visit that was followed by the Dutch media on a day-to-day basis, it threw me right in the middle of the Dutch discourse on matters of the Middle East.
Dr. Shadid goes on to describe the role of artists, particularly protest artists, in this discourse:
The interesting thing we see in our modern societies, is that the corporations that finance (control) the media and entertainment business are very aware of the importance of artistic expression. They are always sure to propel their own symbolisms and stereotypes into the minds of people, whenever they get a chance to. Hollywood is one of the best examples of this, and who can deny its world-wide influence?  On the opposition side however, the disagreeing side, you find that many people lose themselves in angry discourse, and make themselves victims in the discussion, by falling into the defensive position. I believe art is one of the ways to reverse this dynamic, since art makes a statement that can not easily be responded to by verbal discourse. If those who are unhappy about the statement in your art try to attack it with their rhetoric, they often unwillingly aid in enlarging the message it is sending out. This way, I believe, art can be more powerful for a cause than any intellectual form of expression, be it a speech or an article. Nevertheless, I have noticed that people who propagate human rights causes often underestimate this effect, and don’t utilize it enough. They should support the efforts of artists who engage in ‘Creative Resistance’, more than they already do. [emphasis added]
From my own experience, I couldn’t agree more.  Doc Jazz’s concern expressed above about “speaking up for the Palestinian cause [being] a feasible or useful thing to do in the Netherlands,” came to my mind this morning, reading this (retweeted by Doc Jazz):
On the night a ceasefire came into effect ending eight days of Israeli slaughter that left 162 people, the vast majority unarmed civilians, dead in Gaza, Dutch columnist and author Leon de Winter proposed adding chemicals to Gaza’s water supply to sterilize the population.
The website PowNed reported that de Winter “made his proposal for forced eugenics yesterday evening in Amsterdam at a solidarity meeting of Dutch Jews,” and that the speech by de Winter was broadcast this morning by Dutch mainstream and publicly-funded Radio 1.
Troubling, but even more troubling:
de Winter responded in his speech to the accusations of genocide leveled against Israel, saying that the population of Gaza had only increased over the last few years. “Maybe we should secretly add some means of birth control to Gaza’s drinking water,” De Winter proceeded to propose.
The suggestion was met with roaring laughter by the public. Among the participants that evening were the Israeli ambassador to the Netherlands, Hiam Devon, and the cheerful leader of the [religious ultra-conservative] SGP party, Kees van der Staaij. [emphasis added]
So, as the Israeli war crimes in Gaza were winding down, the Israeli ambassador to the Netherlands was attending a RWNJ (right-wing nut job) event in the Netherlands, recommending another war crime – genocide!  Why am I not surprised.  Hopefully, somebody will write a song about this.
Here are two performances by Doc Jazz.
The Right of Return:

Children of Gaza:

What more can one say?

No comments: