Saturday, August 05, 2006

to an israeli interviewer

You have called me today to request an interview for an Israeli newspaper. Here is my answer.

you want to interview me about the music we are keeping going in beirut today.
in other times, i would have liked to be interviewed by an israeli newspaper to talk about my music and my drawings.
i would have probably said for a start that i never imagined the israeli people like green people with antennas.
i would have talked about the free jazz and the improvised and experimental music scene in lebanon.
i would have said that beirut is most probably the closest city in the world to tel aviv and that the musicians and artists of both cities have a lot in common. at least the weather, not to speak about the mediterranean way of life and the high concentration of intellectuals, artists, thinkers and free men in both cities.

today that i have the occasion to say whatever i want, i do not wish to do so.
today, instead of playing music with my friends musicians in Beirut and in the whole world, i am playing with the israeli air force. and this, i do not accept.
today, i sadly do not feel we have the same weather anymore. beirut is getting hotter every day. and this, i do not accept.
today, i am beginning to believe that there is not so much free men in israel. i tend to think more and more that the majority of the israelis are really green with antennas on their heads. and this, you shouldn't accept.
today, i do not wish to speak anymore.

thank you for listening to this “nothing” i ended up by saying.


Blogger Marvin the Martian said...

Mazen - you have said much more than anything.

I cannot believe that while the Lebanese are being bombed Olmert and Bush are seeing opportunities for peace.

I cannot believe that while Beirut is bombed Israelis think it is appropriate to talk to us about our music, our lives, our souls, our cities. Do they think we have no feelings? Do they think we have no hearts? Do they think destroying our Beirut, our bridges, our lives, is ok for us? Do they think we are robots?

1:31 AM  
Blogger Delirious said...

Great answer, as great as your drawings and music.

Check out your drawings all over Amsterdam here:

1:36 AM  
Blogger mazen said...

my dear marvin,
not robots, animals as the nice israeli ambassador to the un ointed it out. this guy would probably be shocked to see that i have a beard but no explosives belt.
sadly enough, the majority of the people in the world do not know who we are.
we know the history of all the nations in the world.
i can give you the names of at least 45 of the united states of america. i can tell you all about the french kings since pepin le bref. i know every little detail of the rise and fall of the communism in russia. i know most probably the names of 3 quarters of the presidents and kings of the world. etc. etc.
and this, most of the lebanese people are capable of.
as they are capable of answering you in 3 languages to any question you ask to a person on the street.
what do people know about us?

1:40 AM  
Blogger mazen said...

hello delirious,
great to see that i am back in amsterdam. i played two concerts there this year (the latest less than 2 months ago).
i think your idea is great. it should spread in all the cities of the world. it will allow me to travel a little bit in those harsh times.

1:46 AM  
Blogger Queen-Dido said...

Reading your post just now made me cry.I'm not entirely sure why....but it did.

Everyone I know in London is so so ashamed of what is being done to your beautiful country..These diplomats & politicians who hesitate over words like 'ceasefire' or 'cessation',
while we see every night on our TV screens the human suffering - and we simply, as human beings connect, we have empathy..
The voltage of grief is unbearable.

Do you know this poem by the Irish poet Seamus Heaney? It was written probably from his experience growing up in Northern Ireland. But for me it is about every war.

from 'The Cure at Troy' by Seamus Heaney

Human beings suffer,
they torture one another,
they get hurt and get hard.
No poem or play or song
can fully right a wrong
inflicted or endured.

History says, Don't hope
on this side of the grave.
But then, once in a lifetime
the longed for tidal wave
of justice can rise up,
and hope and history rhyme.

So hope for a great sea-change
on the far side of revenge.
Believe that a further shore
is reachable from here.
Believe in miracles
and cures and healing wells.

Call the miracle self-healing:
The utter self-revealing
double-take of feeling.
If there's fire on the mountain
Or lightning and storm
And a god speaks from the sky

That means someone is hearing
the outcry and the birth-cry
of new life at its term.

peace from London x

2:03 AM  
Blogger ferfarah said...

i do not accept either. my friends phillipe und frédéric neither. chico neither. luciana neither. my mon, just talked with her, she doesn't either. I didn't talked to my friends fabíola and gui and to my sister, but I'm shure they don't either. nobody seems to accept, but it doesn't seem to care. what does it mean "not to accept"? I don't know, and still: I don't accept.

2:26 AM  
Blogger Boris said...


2:27 AM  
Blogger orangeblossom said...

hello delirious
I posted on your blog as wel. i think it is a brilliant idea, and hope other cities will follow. maybe i can help in Amsterdam and we can find more people to do so.

mazen, at least i sent your blog to some 60 people, hope all we do helps a little. or finally a lot.
Your drawings remain indeed the most powerful way to fight this madness, to show what humanity is all about and that it will never ever stop.

2:41 AM  
Blogger Samir said...

Thank you for your eloquence and perseverance. Even in dark, you shine more brightly than the damaged light tower ever could.

We don't accept destruction, death, regime change, discrimination, lies, propaganda and occupation.

We don't...

4:33 AM  
Blogger Alison Croggon said...

We are not the same as our governments. Don't underestimate the mass revulsion that is occuring among people everywhere (it seems, except in the US) at what is happening in Lebanon.

I don't know a single soul here (Melbourne, Australia) who doesn't think that what is happening is obscene.

I have put the Lebanese flag on my blog and linked here. I wish I knew what to do.

5:25 AM  
Blogger kerfroggy said...

i never set a foot in Lebanon but i've heard and read it's a country of tolerance, paradoxes,of very rich cultures, of "mélanges", dynamic, brilliant and willing to move on.
Singulier et pluriel à la fois, avec, aussi, des luttes d'influences et de clans.Un pays de mer et de montagnes, de traditions et d'innovations, un pays petit par la taille mais grand par son rayonnement et son influence.
I never set a foot in Lebanon but when i was a student in Paris i met other students, from Lebanon, "en exil" because of the other war (it was almost 20 years ago...)and i was amazed by their wits, their culture and their curiosity about everything (arts, books, paintings, politics,music, having fun and enjoying life...) They had a strong sense of their community and of solidarity.
People have heard about your country but you're right about something Mazen : to *know* means to experience things,to feel them and to "live" them so i can't say i really know anything about your country and your people.
But it doesn't mean i'll stick to stereotypes and believe that because you live there and have a beard it means you carry bombs in your backpack.
We've heard about you all and we're willing to learn more. We keep our ears and eyes open...

10:13 AM  
Blogger egi said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

11:03 AM  
Blogger bee said...

Merci Mazen pour tes dessins, ils m'accompagnent toute la journée.

11:45 AM  
Blogger bee said...

et je reproduis parfois certains de tes dessins avec ton nom et ton blog sur le mien. si c un pb signale moi stp.

11:47 AM  
Blogger penultimo said...

Hi Mazen, You look to become little bet tired, if you answer at the telephon to somebody from Israel-sayng is a reporter-(Naturally You didn't know before...). find Your location, nothing more easy by telephon's signals!(May be I'm to distrustfull. But Y'd understand, what You created,is first time in the world(something like Pink-Floyd concertum.)and it arouse a great deal of iterest for what is the situation over there and this is more and more efficient then million of israely sonor bombs!Of course You know that is not been allowed to be there, like in Palestine or Irak, to many T.V.reporters, those who got the permit are sending us, around the world,just few incomplete well handled news, that often seems- All of You Lebanes guilty-too!Not the same by Your draws and words...!So, I kan understand Your main interest in Y life is Art, like widely shown here and what is wrong with this?!Just and only a job, a passion of a human being like You(me too from long time and profetionally) and many others in the world.I kan even understand that in the art world-wide, like almost 90% of others activities these are handled by juwish people(I'm absolutly not racist)so for You, before, is been easy to have meet some of them, that mekes me to realize how is for Y difficult to take a political position and... follow in this way, like is possible-is one way to live little bet serene-.But trust me, take little bet more care of You and Your Family and frends.These people they don't accept, somebody showing the truth, worse if by that, they kan't get some profit even. What else kan I say...We are really millions coming helping all of You and we only wish true freedom in each Countrys.We all are exhausted to hear or see massacres, expecially of babies and women, all just for more and more shit money to be handled only by somebody!Last... We are the mediterranean People, we just should care more of our interests in this area and not the israeloangloamericans,meaning the governors and not all the citizens, that I hope are with nous. See You in free Lebanon.

11:50 AM  
Blogger egi said...

dear Mazen

I consider myself a free man from Tel-aviv, i understand your instinct of thinking that in times of war talk is useless - that human voice is shadowed (or overdubbed) by bomb-shell.

Indeed i can see people from Israel who in ordinary time would consider theirselves peace-loving men close their ears in time of war and succumb to feelings of revenge and over flowing nationalism.

Elias Khoury wrote recently an essay (will be published tommorow in London) calling for a new vision to unfold from the debris that war causes, a vision that in my opinion is only possible by meeting around in a cafe chatting about music, art and other bla bla bla. maybe even sharing a bottle of wine.

that's resistence, talking when everyone else is convinced that talking to green martians with antennas is useless. revealing the limits of force and the fact that all blood is red.

you may delete this message if you are overwhelmed by feelings Mazen, i know i am sometimes - i wouldn't hold it against you. just wanted you to know that i read and appreciate your efforts these days and i hope better times are near.

stay strong

11:55 AM  
Blogger poulette said...

bonjour mazel
juste un petit mot pour faire connaissance et te dire toute l'admiration que j'ai pour ton travail, tes réactions, ton courage.
Des amis vivent à Beyrouth, ma mère est la marraine de leur fils. Ils m'ont vue naître. Je viens de les avoir au téléphone, ils sont partis à la montagne, donc a priori un peu plus à l'abri qu'à Beyrouth, mais je partage leur peur, le sentiment d'injustice que vous devez tous ressentir. Même si la pudeur des libanais fait qu'ils me demandent toujours de mes nouvelles avant de parler d'eux; je sais à quel point c'est dur de s'inquiéter pour sa famille, ses amis...
PS Pour m'inscrire et pouvoir te laisser un message ca a été un peu compliqué (j'ai un blog par ailleurs, et ne souhaitais donc pas en créer un autre, donc l'adresse du blog qui apparait sur ma fiche ne correspond à rien) mais l'email est correct.

12:26 PM  
Blogger penultimo said...

Hi egi.About this:(-Elias Khoury wrote recently an essay (will be published tommorow in London) calling for a new vision to unfold from the debris that war causes, a vision that in my opinion is only possible by meeting around in a cafe chatting about music, art and other bla bla bla. Maybe even sharing a bottle of wine.-)All o.k.! But... never sharing or using even money with somebody that kan't?!Of course without ask them it back? That's only a joke.I just appreciate Your good hooping and the joke is even, to let somebody understand that we all are still in time if really want to stop and start new Era, expecially for the youngs. Egi, do something practik to help Your People and all Lebanes, Palestinians, Iraquis etc.MADRE NATURA 'L BLESS YOU.

4:05 PM  
Blogger Leela said...

Hi Mazen,

I sent your blog link to every cartoonist friend I could think of, and posted on my own blog about it. In a little while I'll re-post, to keep it in view.

To the poster who commented that maybe people in the US aren't revolted by the war in Lebanon, I have to tell you that's not the case. I can't speak for anyplace but New York (and wouldn't want to anyway), but I can tell you that everyone I know is heartsick and furious. The people I know who are the most upset are secular American Jews who don't agree with Israeli policies in general - and there are more of us then is ever let on in our media.

Most people in this country with half a brain feel helpless, disempowered, and completely unrepresented after six years of the Bush-Cheney regime. We are well-fed hostages. And the rest...well, it's a big country. A lot of people here probably don't even know where Lebanon is; some people can't even find their own damn country on a map, you know? But I was proud to see that my own local representative (Flatbush, baby!) was among those calling for an immediate ceasefire in Congress. Of course, Bush won't listen, because he's on vacation and doesn't give a crap about anyone, but still. It takes guts to stand up to the Israel lobby in this country.

What I keep wondering is, when this is all over, who's going to clean up? Who's going to rebuild Beirut, again? Where is this all headed?

5:52 PM  
Blogger in indigo said...

f*** mazen, you are so

i have to say, my little bleeding heart jumps high in the air when i read a lebanese-israeli dialogue (the non-racist ones with diplomatie, as your ph.d. commentator would like) and i feel that we-- well, i feel like i can even use "we" as a participatory, consensual, congregational, pluralized statement. "we" as hope, man.

so i cringed when i read this post.

i also cringed because, the other day, a part of me also went looking for "art in the time of war." possible goldmine!

but i quickly got bored, or rather, i began to disabuse editorials in the wall street journal, post on other blogs, get caught up in the outrage that makes me cry everyday and spit venom at this cursed war.

what am i saying? that your writing has pierced my skin and i'm bleeding. i felt the pain when i looked down and saw the blood. but dammit, i (WE, the royal american WE) need the shock of your opinions.

oh and a question, are american jews also green with horns?

missing you and your cadre and all the green/red in beirut...

6:11 PM  
Blogger dina khalifé said...

Mazen, not only your drawings touch me so deeply ... but your writings as well. I cried when i read this text today. I feel so sad to what is happening in our country.

6:27 PM  
Blogger hadas said...

Hi Mazen. Your work is amazing. I very much share egi's thoughts and feelings. This is the first war, for Israelis, in which a subtext of communication exists through cyberspace allowing both sides to see each other as individuals, rather than an entity titled "the enemy". All this only deepens one's sense of helplessness and powerlessness facing this horrific course of events.

7:19 PM  
Blogger Alison Croggon said...

Apologies to those of my American friends who are horrified by what is happening in Lebanon. I did not mean to smear them.

I was of course referring to the polls which show that support for the Israeli bombing of Lebanon runs at 68 per cent in the US (as opposed to say 13 per cent in Germany).

3:52 AM  
Blogger mario warner said...

i believe there are actually just two division in the world. it is neither moslems nor christians nor any other beliefs. it is not divided by land borders and nationalities. i believe it is a division of the people who knows we should live as one regardless of color, nationality or belief... and the other one would be those who become too keen in observing their cultural, religious, or political beliefs that they put the basic values of human lives at stake... the second group of people are the ones who keep vying for power and to keep trying to secure what they have through forceful means... they keep trying to prove they are powerful by making sure others are bowing down on their knees.

if ever there will be a world-wide division, i believe it would be those who respect human lives for whatever and however they are... as opposed to those who does not content themselves and wishes to wage war. the choice is ours.

8:49 AM  
Blogger Angry Anarchist said...


Well said, Mazen!

A Lebanese blogger

12:23 PM  
Blogger fonclea said...


i heard about you on a french-german TV program, and i i'de like to tell you thank you for the effort you make to communicate with people you are "supposed to hate". I'de also like to thanks the people from both side of the wall for making the same.

Par la même occasion je parlerai de ton site: que le dieu de l'inspiration soit avec toi jeune padawane !!!
j'èspere le meilleur pour les tiens et soit sur que nous vous regardons et vous soutennons de tout notre coeur !

à très bientôt,

2:40 PM  
Blogger Edward III said...


Why not view the offer to interview you as an attempt by Israelis to humanize the Lebanese rather than an attempt to make the Lebanese robots? The less anonymous you are, the more human you are, and the interview would present the story of you, an individual.

Being human is more than merely suffering during bombing - you were able to record beautiful music in the midst of the attacks, evidence of your great humanity. Was "Starry Night" not meant to be heard by Israelis? Why now hide your light under a bushel? Perhaps they need to hear it more than anyone.

There are Israelis sympathetic to your plight, and allowing your anger at the Israeli government to sour your view of all Israelis dehumanizes them. Communication is the only way people will learn about your experience and your struggle, and unless you had reason to believe the Israeli interviewer was going to be hostile towards you, turning down the interview seems to be part of the problem, not part of the solution.

I can't begin to understand what you are going through. Hopefully my comments will be taken how they are intended - as a friend would offer advice to a friend. I hope peace returns to your country soon.

7:13 PM  
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7:34 AM  

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