Jerusalem for Us All

01Mar12

The recent Arab uprisings throughout the Middle East and North Africa have inspired popular movements worldwide to take to the streets to peacefully protest against contemporary injustices. Many artists in these movements are also using music as a way to non-violently resist, because music is a universal human language that communicates not only our dissatisfaction with the world around us, but also our hopes for a more just and peaceful future. Building on this wave of non-violent civil resistance, we are pleased to announce the release of “Jerusalem for Us All,” a new compilation album to benefit the Global March to Jerusalem-North America (GMJ-NA), featuring tracks from renowned international artists including: M1, DAM, Marcel Khalife, Rim Banna, Robert Wyatt and Gilad Atzmon, among many others.

The GMJ-NA is an independent and autonomous coalition of North American Groups planning to join the Global March to Jerusalem (GMJ), a groundbreaking new initiative that is organizing peaceful mass demonstrations on Land Day, 30th March 2012, in Palestine and the four neighboring countries: Egypt, Lebanon Jordan and Syria. Large non-violent solidarity protests will also be held in major cities around the world. The GMJ has the support of hundreds of grassroots organizations worldwide, and endorsements from esteemed individuals including: Nobel Peace Laureates Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Mairead Maguire, Palestinian democracy activist Mustafa Barghouti, Jewish Renewal Movement Rabbi Lynn Gottlieb, Reverend Jeremiah Wright, ANC leader Ronnie Kasrils, American philosopher and civil rights activist Dr. Cornel West, retired US Ambassador Edward Peck, anti-war activist Medea Benjamin, international law professor Richard Falk, and historian and writer Dr. Tariq Ali.

Although the international participants of the GMJ represent a diverse coalition of voices from various religious and non-religious communities, “Jerusalem For Us All” illustrates how they can all unite for Palestine. As the DARG team, a group of young hip hop artists from Gaza, explains, “That is the power of music, where it can travel all over without borders, bring people together no matter where they are from, their backgrounds, color or even religion.” So while the album includes a diverse mix of hip hop, jazz, rock, folk, and a variety of classical cultural traditions, many of the tracks incorporate lyrics that focus directly on the situation in Palestine from a perspective not usually represented in the political mainstream.

As American singer-songwriter David Rovics points out, “Music has always played an important role in educating people about their world, and in inspiring people to take action. Music has always been an integral part of any social movement, and a massive, international social movement is what we need right now to support the initiative of the Global March to Jerusalem.” The DARG team also believes strongly in the power of music to educate others, stressing how important it is to “spread the word of justice and … the truth about what is going on in Palestine.”

The Western bias towards Israel often makes it extremely difficult for popular artists to take a political stand. Thus the creation of an international album in support of Palestine is a remarkable achievement. As the British singer and musician Aki Nawaz points out, “All or any activity to achieving justice and recognition for the Palestinian people is not just an honor to be applauded but one that takes sacrifice and courage. Many musicians and artists are deliberately suffocated and demonized into silence or targeted for any stance they take on the issue, and this speaks volumes of systems who advocate ‘freedom of expression’ yet deny it when it does not meet their sinister agenda.”

Perhaps as a result of these many sacrifices required, every artist participating in “Jerusalem for Us All” has a personal connection to Palestine, even those who are not Palestinian. For American composer Rich Siegel, this connection was a transformative experience. He explains that “having been raised deep in the cult of Zionism, I have a special passion for this issue. I hope that my music will, in some small way, contribute to freedom, peace, and justice for Palestine.” Because as American singer-songwriter Stephan Said remarks, “That beautiful spirit of non-violence for justice fills the GMJ, bringing together Muslims, Christians, Jews, people of every walk of life, to take a stand for the change we need to see.”

“Jerusalem for Us All” is available at www.cdbaby.com and www.gmj-na.org for $9.99. All proceeds will benefit the GMJ-NA.

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