Datacide 17 Record Review by Hans-Christian Psaar

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Bong-Ra
Palestina EP
[PRSPCT RVLT Digi 005]

In his previous works Bong-Ra withheld from political statements. Now he makes an explicit statement with his 2-Track EP “Palestina”.

On the cover there is a protester with a keffiyeh scarf holding a Palestinian flag. The revenues of the release are donated to the Al Awda hospital in Gaza. There is a link on the bandcamp page to a campaign of culturesofresistance.org. More information, what this is about, is not given. The listener only gets the cover, two track titles, the tracks, and the link. It was released according to discogs as PRSPCT RVLT Digi 005, according to bandcamp as self-release without a label.

It would be important to know why this hospital and why now. In an interview with the dutch version of VICE magazine and in one Facebook post Bong-Ra delivers more information. He has always been a friend of the Palestinian cause. And he refers to a campaign of Norman Finkelstein, who in 2015 had initiated a donation campaign for the Al Awda hospital via the platform byline. The voice sample on the track “Gaza” is also Norman Finkelstein.

Bong-Ra says in his interview with VICE:

“It’s not about aggression at all, just about finding a solution.” (Het gaat dus helemaal niet om agressie maar net om het zoeken naar een oplossing.)

To search for solutions is one thing. However, it can be questioned whether Norman Finkelstein is the right man for this. As a political scientist he manoeuvred himself into a backwater in 2007 when he lost his teaching assignment at DePaul University in Chicago. Before this, he had been providing arguments for the extreme right and anti-imperialists of Europe, who distributed his thesis of a “Holocaust Industry”, published in the year 2000. Finkelstein himself came from a Jewish background; these groups finally had a Jew that confirmed their beliefs.

Today, Finkelstein finds his audience at Russia Today, the media outlet faithful to the Kremlin and popular under the European right. Norman Finkelstein doesn’t try to exert influence with a political movement but as an angry journalist with books, campaigns and texts.

Only his intention has not much in common with peace but with defamation. He calls the current Israeli prime minister a “maniac”. He compares the murdered editors of French magazine Charlie Hebdo with the national-socialist magazine “Der Stürmer”. They had gotten what they deserved. He compares showing a star of David at a queer demonstration with showing a swastika. According to him, Amnesty International would spread “Israeli propaganda” in a report.

All of these examples are a language of hate. Who doesn’t agree with Finkelstein is either mad, a Nazi or spreading totalitarian propaganda. Sometimes it seems arbitrary who gets in the target of his anger as the BDS campaign. Those angry polemics have not much in common with a peaceful approach to solve conflicts

Back to the EP. The track Gaza starts with a sample of Finkelstein: “There is a fundamental principle: people have the right to defend their country against foreign occupiers and people have the right to defend their country against invaders who are destroying their country […]”.

Things are getting simplified here: as a right of the Palestinian people to defend themselves against foreign invaders and occupying forces. The jewish state of Israel is therefore indirectly labeled as a foreign body in the region, who is suppressing the Palestinians. This is a simplifying and wrong representation. Things were never that simple in the region.

In history there has never been a Palestinian people in constitutional law nor has there been a Palestinian state. In the year 2007 there was a civil war in the Gaza strip. As a result the Palestinian territories split into Gaza (ruled by Hamas) and West Bank (ruled by Fatah). The Islamist group Hamas claims in its charter its intent to build a Palestinian state without Israel, Jews and Zionists. At the moment, Hamas doesn’t terrorize the Israeli civilian population with mortar attacks, as they did in 2012. Rather, it terrorizes its own population on the search for deviators and collaborators with Israel or the Fatah.

On the one hand Norman Finkelstein and Bong-Ra want to support a humanitarian cause with the donation for a hospital. On the other hand both support insurrection against “foreign occupying forces”.

Things are complex in the region. But it is not possible to describe this complexity in a polemic album cover and two track titles. At the moment there is no Palestinian people’s insurrection against Israel, rather a conflict with multiple fronts. And it is the civil population that suffers in this conflict.

There are initiatives for human rights, peace and international understanding. For what cause or what party is the militant protester on the cover taking to the street?

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