Following is a short summary of the WhiteFlag story.
First tho’ it is vitally important to understand some basic history. There is both a video and a written stuff relating to all of this.
It is easy to romanticise this story and ignore some if not the major issues going on in the background.
- The total asymmetry that existed and exists between the Palestinians and the Israelis to this day. One of the most deceptive and dangerous understandings that can be assumed from reading about WhiteFlag is that there is balance between the Palestinians and Israelis and that both sides share equal responsibility for the ongoing conflict between them. This would be a complete untruth…false news if you like. As an Israeli I feel that it is vital that all people need to understand that the policy of land grabbing, ethnic cleansing and the complete stripping of the the Palestinians human and civil rights has been a mainstream policy of Israeli governments from the first days of the new Israeli state created in 1947. More than that it was a policy that was an integral part of the Zionist movement since its inception at the end of the 19th century.
- For the Israelis to participate in WhiteFlag created some friction with friends and families, but that is where it ended. The great heroes of this story are the Palestinian musicians who where so extraordinarily brave. It is hard to explain just what an enormous physical and emotional risk these three musicians faced by agreeing to be part of WhiteFlag. If it was trying to explain to the community they lived in, why they are going to make music with the enemy or dealing with the Israeli armed forces who could abuse and mistreat them at any point during their visits to Israel from Gaza and much more. This is not even the tip of the iceberg of what these musicians had to deal with in order to make music with some Israeli’s from Tel Aviv.
- To recognise that today in 2017 not only has nothing changed for the better, rather the situation is more extreme and dire than ever before, with the massive land grabbing and displacement of Palestinians from their homes supported by government ‘laws’ legalising this process through to the never ending interruption and harassment of Palestinian citizens on a daily basis by both the Israeli Army and the protected settlers living on Palestinian land.
- Here are a few links: http://www.israeli-occupation.org/2017-06-04/moshe-machover-israel-and-the-messiahs-ass/ and a short quote from the link:A statement of Ben-Gurion (Who later became Israel’s first Prime Minister) dating from 1937, please note that this was 10 years before the State of Israel was granted any kind of statehood or recognition…’…Among ourselves [the Zionists] there can be no debate about the integrity of the land of Israel [i.e., Palestine], and about our ties and right to the whole of the land … When a Zionist speaks about the integrity of the land, this can only mean colonisation [hityashvut] by the Jews of the land in its entirety.’The following link is to an Israeli human rights organisation.The facts here are clear and precise and can really help to clarify and get a clearer picture of what is really happening to the Palestinian peoplehttp://www.btselem.org/statistics
From the WhiteFlag concert in Luzern at the K.K.L 2005
Playing With The Enemy Doco & Interview with Arli Liberman 2005
Link to full documentary-‘Playing with the enemy’ produced by ANTV in 2005;
The WhiteFlag Story
1998 – The original WhiteFlag members:
Mark Smulian (Israel) – Bass, Guitar & Producer
Shadi Al Haj (Palestine)- Keyboards & Producer
Yassin Hussein (Palestine) – Vocalist
Gani Tamir (Israel) – Vocalist
Zaher Abdul Jawad (Palestine) – Ethnic String Instruments
Katja Cooper (Israel) – Drums & Percussion
…”WhiteFlag met at a fundraiser for – channels for
communication”, a joint Israeli-Palestinian organization.
The idea was to produce a one-time only kind of concert,
whereby Palestinian musicians from Gaza jammed along side
Israeli musicians from Tel-Aviv.
So in 1998 we got together and did our first time concert in Tel
Aviv, we all had an incredible time on stage. It wasn’t planned or
scripted. It was all about a genuine burst of energy and emotions
through musical dialogue. In fact, we so enjoyed it, we decided to
produce another concert for “windows” just to be able to
experience it once again. The venue was packed. The vibe was
electrifying… something stronger than all of us were born”.
The initial WhiteFlag line up (Mark, Shadi, Zaher, Katja, Gani,
Yassin) formed itself upon realizing that all members shared the
same sense of priority: “Let’s play music first and see what
The only way to go on meeting and keep the fire burning was to
form a band.
“At first, “windows” supported us with all the production related
details, such as making sure our Palestinian friends could make it
to rehearsals… “. “However, we soon realized that our great
friends at “Windows” had an agenda of their own,
understandably, and we wanted to be independent. That is,
totally free to do what we wanted to do. Music!!!
No politics, no agendas, no forced upon ties and connections, no
hidden messages. A bunch of musicians playing together…”
A very simple vision, indeed, but in a very complicated region, no
Two years and twenty gigs or so later, the second Intifada
broke out. In fact, WhiteFlag was to appear on stage one day
after the initial wave of violence took place. The debate back
stage was whether to have the concert take place as originally
planned or cancel it following the current events. As always,
WhiteFlag ended up sticking to their initial set of priorities. They
went on stage to perform opposite a packed venue.
Four years of active conflict put WhiteFlag on hold. Band
members could not possibly get together under one roof to
continue playing. The situation in the Middle East was at its
Then, a real breakthrough and lots of assistance came from an
unexpected source;a production company(ANTV )from the
Netherlands, featured WhiteFlag on one of their documentaries
shot in Israel way back during 2000. One day, and all these years
later, the phone rings, and I am surprised to here ANTV on the
other end of the line, asking about WhiteFlag. They expressed
their will to try and support us in reuniting the band and making
a documentary about this whole story. Guess what we said?” Yup,
as always, the answer was emphasizing wanting to play music
first, and seeing what will follow next.
The summer of 2005 was a unique and wonderful experience for
WhiteFlag. The band had the opportunity to finally record their
first CD ‘EXILE’, rehearse and perform at some wonderful
venues; Montreux Jazz Festival, KKL in Luzerne… and be
together as a regular working band.
After Switzerland, Zaher returned to New York, Yasin went
back to Gaza, married and had a baby, Shadi remained in
Switzerland, Katja returned to San Fransisco and the other
Israelis went back to Tel-Aviv, Israel … and yet somehow, the
initial vision of us as a band stayed in all of our hearts.
For the next 2 years the band focused on remixing the CD ‘EXILE’
and spent their time editing, recording and creating the CD
‘TALK’, to be released by the end of 2009.
In 2008 it became clear that WhiteFlag in its original format could
not meet or even exist as a serious band and so WhiteFlag
Project came into being; a core group of musicians that could meet
and play on a regular basis in the Middle East and when
performing internationally, hopefully meet up with other WhiteFlag Project