Review: Star of Goliath
January 2005

One of our founding myths is the emptiness of the land. If settlers did push Indians aside, they were few and feckless and needed to be civilized anyway. When Indians and their allies recovered the memory of hundreds of nations and millions of people run over in the European conquest, those responsible for national myth upkeep argued back, cooking the numbers and throwing into doubt the existence of whole peoples.

The founding myths of Israel are more recent, but they sound familiar. We hear echoes in the Zionist slogan, "A land without people for a people without land." The area was an empty wasteland that would be made to bloom by the new inhabitants, whose historical destiny was surely to settle there just as it was manifest destiny for persecuted Europeans to settle the Indian Americas.

Dave Lippman, in his new musical multimedia prose-poem, "Star of Goliath," goes back to the roots of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the myth of an empty land.

Plant a tree for Israel
they told me as a child ...
As if the people there
had not been farmers
for 15 centuries.

The show mixes the photographs and sounds of occupied Palestine with quotes from early Zionism and its critics, and tells in song the story of the settler land grab, the bulldozer democracy, the apartheid conditions. Lippman reports on the resistance to the separation wall that cuts off farmers from wells, orchards from villages, workers from their livelihood, and people from each other. And he conveys the voices, faces and names of those who reclaim memory to reinforce the reality of a place called Palestine.

Lippman is an accomplished songwriter and satirist who travels from funny and scathing to serious and scathing, stopping along the way for reflection. He is perhaps best known for his character George Shrub, the singing CIA agent. On a trip to Palestine in 2004, Lippman, who is Jewish, blogged his way through the stubborn towns, refugee camps and checkpoint-choked cities of the West Bank and Gaza, interviewing opponents of the occupation--Israeli and Palestinian--and emerging with an eyewitness report that demolishes widespread illusions with warmth, vivid detail and exceptional artistry.

The West Bank town Jayyous is surrounded by five settlements and bisected by the wall:
We sit on the roof in the evening and look out at the sea,
but mainly at the pretty lights, of the five colonies
in a ring around the village,
like a noose, like a nightmare,
from which a whole town can't wake up
this is goin nowhere

Special roads for settlers only, unattainable permits required for water, for building, for traveling, settlers who thug their way around Palestinian towns, the seizure of Palestinian property by Israeli authorities when left "vacant," banned books, arbitrary detentions, water theft and everywhere walls, fences, roadblocks and checkpoints cordoning, segmenting, and strangling towns--these are the details of occupation that never make it into the newspapers here. "Water is not scarce here, it's just poorly shared / some folks need it to grow food, others swimming pools..."

It's hard to swim against the waves of disinformation in the U.S. media about Israel and Palestine. The premises are all wrong, so our brains sputter incoherently, choked with bad data and unexplained contradictions. Star of Goliath is the antidote to mealy-mouthed punditry about the occupation of Palestine. Catch it as an (occasional) part of the Wheels of Justice Bus Tour ( Book a show, or find out where Dave Lippman is appearing next at

Jenny Brown
Gainesville Iguana
P.O. Box 14712
Gainesville, Florida 32604
(352) 378-5655

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