British singer Peter Gabriel cited a rise in racism in Israel for political gains as a partial reason for re-recording his 1980 protest classic Biko.
Gabriel has released the new version of the song, which was recorded with help from 25 musicians from around the globe, including Beninese vocalist and activist Angélique Kidjo, Yo-Yo Ma, the Cape Town Ensemble, Sebastian Robertson, and bassist Meshell Ndegeocello as part of Playing for Change’s Song Around the World initiative.
Gabriel told Rolling Stone that the song, originally written as a tribute to South African anti-apartheid activist Steve Biko, who was
murdered in police custody in 1977, still has relevance today and named Israel, among other countries, that is exhibiting racist traits.
. “Although the white minority government has gone in South Africa, the racism around the world that apartheid represented has not ,” he told Rolling Stone. “Racism and nationalism are sadly on the rise. In India, Myanmar and Turkey, Israel and China, racism is being deliberately exploited for political gain.”
In 2014, Gabriel contributed songs to a benefit compilation album titled 2 Unite All, which went toward funding humanitarian aid to
Palestinians in Gaza.
“Although I am sure both the Palestinian and Israeli people would benefit enormously from a just and fair two-state agreement based
around the ‘67 borders,” Gabriel said in a statement, “we have watched the Palestinians subjected to more and more suffering for far too long, especially in Gaza. Meanwhile, their longheld land is repeatedly stolen by force for illegal settlements.”
Last year, he was one of more than 250 artists and writers from around the world called on Israel to end its blockade of Gaza in an
Gabriel performed at Tel Aviv's Hayarkon Park in 1994.