British citizens were shocked and disgusted to find out recently that Lloyds TSB, one of the major banks our tax payers money recently rescued, are cancelling their account with Interpal. Interpal is the major charity providing support and empathy for those suffering unfairly in Palestine.
The foreign secretary’s apparent ignorance of the issue I saw when in the same room as him, along with the government apathy is as sickening as ever. But it proves our point. Muslims do not blame, hate or discriminate against the Jewish population or faith in any way. However, Zionism, as an impure version of Judaism, an American and British spoon fed, weapons in hand, support provided; illegal violent occupation, is wrong in anyone’s eyes. This year marks one hundred years since the beginning of the conflict between the Arabs and the Israeli’s in Palestine. As Hip Hop heads, every element of our art should have a purpose. Campz Breakers have given this idea a whole new definition as their purpose is revolving around of life or death and historical conflict.
The Campz Breakers story starts with Mohammed, a lone bboy on the Gaza Strip who found breakin’ gave him a taste of freedom, growing up in such a hostile environment, he had never experienced this kind of liberty. One of the core parts of hip hop, the art of breakin’, break dance or bboying requires stamina, dedication and control. Breakin’ was a way for him to express his feelings and he began to form his own crew. It was difficult to do, given that the situation in Gaza is so antagonistic. The everyday battle for the crew began in 2004 and in 2006 things were so hard the crew almost gave up. But strength was drawn and they agreed to keep on ‘for now and forever’.
To put the 6-stepping and air flaring in the correct context, it is important to understand the history of the hostility on the Gaza Strip. The current Arab-Israeli conflict is due to the illegal Zion occupation of Palestine. It is the longest running military occupation in the world. We can look at this in two phases. The first would be in 1948 when 78% of the Arab-Palestinian lands were occupied by Israelis, using power and weaponry handed to them from the Americans, establishing the state of Israel. The second was in 1967 when Israel declared war against the Arabs whom lands they had occupied, and proceeded to occupy the rest of the Palestinian lands, mainly the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. The Palestinians struggled (displaying the true meaning of Jihad which indeed does NOT mean war) in order to regain their land via legitimate military struggle up until 1988. That’s 40 years of continuous battle for what was already theirs.
They then attempted another method of survival, they accepted the Israeli's unrightful occupation of the lands in 1948. However, they more than reasonably demanded the freedom of the Palestinian lands captured in 1967. Their attempt at compromise was ignored. The Palestinians have tried diplomacy, peaceful talks and protests in their struggle for the freedom which they rightly deserve. They only remain in the West Bank and Gaza Strip under the control of the Palestinian National Authority as a result of peace agreements signed after 1993, though even in these areas, 60% are under Israeli military control. Israel has breached International Law and UN Resolutions 194 and 242 relating to the conflict, leaving many homeless, despaired or dead.
The current situation, as described by Camps Breakerz is that, “The Gaza Strip is an area of Palestine which is diverse but collectively terrified. It contains four cities, Gaza, Derralbalah, Kanyonis, Raffah and many refugee camps of those who had to leave their homes in Israel. Like us, the people want the Gaza strip and all of Palestine to be free and unharmed”.
“Our families like what we do, but not all of them. Some of them believe breakin’ is a loss of time and future. Breakin is a sport for us and it tells you what we feel, it’s a feeling of freedom. In 2006 we began making shows for the Gaza community. The first show was good but not wholly appropriate considering out situation in Gaza. Then we began to mix our situation in with our show and this was a great success. People understood us and our goals, they began supporting us. And now they wait readily for every coming show! All our performances have an aim or goal; we talk about a particular issue or address a certain topic”.
Surely the shortest, most effective answer is righteous, positive, peaceful and rational action. And that is what Camps Breakerz have proved. Their shows contain a mixture of political openness, disturbing conflict re-enactments, oppressed lives and complete victimization. What makes them different, and therefore more operative, however, is that this is all expressed through beats, acting and the physical incredibility that is the art of breakin’. “We have the right situation from which breakin and hip hop can be embraced and practise correctly. We use the art in the correct way. It is wrong for any Muslim not to use hip hop as a purposeful, positive art. If that is the case, they should not be involved in hip hop at all. We are in such a difficult situation we need this, and we use it properly”.
Campz Breakers have even taken their story and their aims out of Gaza to spread their message and gain an even speedier increase in support. “We battled in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates in 2007. We would love to battle in every country. We cannot go to Israel as they see us as terrorists, however we hope to battle them peacefully one day”. The message is blunt and un-ignorable. There is no anger, no hatred in these artistic Al-Inqilabi’s (revolutionaries) hearts. “The breakin and hip hop culture is a way to free Palestine. When the community see our shows they feel free… We know the Western world care for us in this time of conflict, though we know there is little they can do. We can not make Gaza and Palestine free ourselves. We are ten bboys. All we can do is show people that Palestinian people love the arts and having a good time. They are not terrorists. We would definitely love to teach breakin to Israeli people who do not agree with the violence and divisions between our two communities. We want to make peace. We do not hate anyone”.
So what for the future of Palestinian hip hop? “We are very positive about the future of Palestinian hip hop. We hope to make all of Palestine understand and practise hip hop, inshallah (God willing). Hip hop has brought a feeling of freedom and a hope for real freedom to Palestine. We admire every conscious person in hip hop because we know they feel what we do. Breakin is the best way to show people your energy, feelings and perception of life. Hip hop will last forever. We will evolve with age, as will hip hop. It will last forever, inshallah".
After engaging with these brothers, and being genuinely blown away by their levels of compassion, understanding and optimism I am still left with the true Camps Breakers sincerity. “We are happy for this interview, please support us and we hope to see you in the future! We won’t lose hope. We are the lonely breakerz . We don’t want to lose what we have now. Free Gaza. Free Palestine. Thank you for support”.
The point here is obvious. Hip hop has brought some Palestinians a feeling of freedom in this life, which is a basic human right they were born without.
Look out for www.campsbreakerz.com coming soon.