Vincent, singer of the slam group KWAL, Bethlehem Peace Centre 06/04/2009

Monday 28 December 2009
popularity : 9%

Read the report on our meeting with Kwal, on Monday April 6

Interview after the concert

Interview Kwal

I have heard you are French. I’d like to know a bit more about your project of singing here, in Palestine.

In fact, I was already here in 2005 and 2007 with Fred, my manager. We have been trying for a while to come back, but we needed time to organize the tour… I have lots of texts about Palestine... Since the first time I came here, I have never stopped being stirred when hearing or seeing what people here go through. I feel so revolted all the time that, after a while, I’m really happy to come here and sing for them in French and in Arabic… We have adapted some texts in Arabic to tell the people here that, even if on a very small scale, we support them.

How do people in France react to your songs ?

To my songs ?… Well, if I have to get to the heart of the matter, in France, the involvement in the Palestinian cause is close to zero…Well, I mean… I’m often fed up with the media… I often tell them, on the radio, for ex. when they ask me : so you have been to Palestine?… Ah, Palestine… They are not really in favour of it, you know or they tell you it’s “a complex situation”. In France you can’t say bluntly, here are the facts : 1300 people killed in Gaza, it was not a war but a massacre… No, you just answer, you know, it’s complicated… I have written a song about Gaza and I sang it in France in January, and clearly, I feel less and less inclined to pull my punches about it… What’s difficult is that the people, the media in France are such cowards. Everybody is so consensual, always trying to put both sides, the occupiers and the occupied people face to face… You really need to have come here, in Palestine, to be able to speak about it… I’ts really difficult to talk about it with people who know nothing, and thus understand nothing about it…

What about the way the Palestinians react to your songs ?

I was really touched, more than I had imagined… I didn’t know what to expect, maybe the people here would think I’m just an idiot of a Frenchman, maybe they wouldn’t care about my songs because anyway, they are not going to change anything for them. But there were people from Hebron, or from Jerusalem, people who were really moved… I feel so moved too, hearing them … Because you really feel something happens between us : I come here with my texts and they go down so nicely… so nicely!… I was anxious to sing as many songs as possible in Arabic. I don’t speak Arabic, I’m just a beginner, but I really want to say things about freedom, the occupation, the wall, etc. in Arabic, so as to speak to the Palestinians directly… I just can’t explain to you : what they give me back is beyond words. Yesterday, we played at Hebron university… it’s a great memory, really….

Would you sing the same songs in Israel?

No… Not for ideological reasons but just for a question of occupiers-occupied… I mean, as a human being, and in respect of the International Right, there is a situation where some people occupy other people, I don’t want to go and give concerts in Israel because I think that… I don’t know, I would feel as if… As long as the situation… On the day the situation is cleared and the Palestinians can live free, on the day a whole state no longer chokes and strangles them, I will, no problem. But not now, not today, the time has not come yet…