First, David reminded me of a song that must be included, and so this is #7 on the imaginary benefit album:
7. Freeman, "P-I (Palestine-Israel)" Mars Eyes (2001).
Freeman, a Frenchman of Algerian heritage, is a member of IAM, one of France's premier hip-hop groups. His role in IAM, where he goes by the name Malek Sultan, is that of dancer, but he is also a great rapper, as is evidenced in his solo album Mars Eyes. "P-I" in fact is not a "soliditary" song but a call for peace between the two sides. Here's the refrain:
Que cet air puisse tenir l’éternité
Que cette air t’parle l’Ange, j’parle de paix
Patries Immortelles, Palestine Israël
T’es l’nombril du monde que la paix s’fonde
There have been many more suggestions, which I discuss below, but I don't think there are any more real candidates. Remember, what I'm looking for are songs by major artists (whose names would "sell" the album) that explicitly deal with Palestine. What I've learned, however, is that there are more musicians who have "come out" for Palestine than I had suspected.
Islamoyankee suggests The Cure's "Killing An Arab" (Boys Don't Cry, 1980). This is an intriguing suggestion, especially since when the single first came out in 1978, the Arab-American Anti-Discrimination made a semi-successful effort to keep it from being played on the radio (read Robert Christgau's account of the controversy here). The song in no way advocates "killing an Arab" but rather is drawn from Albert Camus's The Stranger, where the narrator Meursault kills an Algerian Arab for no good reason. I find the novel problematic, and the fact that the casual murder of an Arab is the centerpiece of what became a canonical existentialist text rather nauseating, but I still like the song, especially the "Oriental" surf guitar. Check out this live video on Youtube. Wikipedia reports that The Cure revived the song in 2005, performing at several European festivals but with the lyrics changed to "Kissing an Arab." At the Royal Albert on April 1, 2006, they changed the lyrics to "Killing Another," and added an additional new opening verse. If I were going to expand the imaginary benefit album to include Middle-East themed "peace" material, "Kissing an Arab" might do.
Others mentioned songs by prominent artists that give "shout outs" to Palestine. There's rap artists Mos Def & Talib Kweli's 12", "What's Beef," which includes the lines,
Beef is what George Bush would do in a fight...Beef is oil prices and geopolitics, Beef is Iraq, the West Bank, and Gaza Strip.Ani DiFranco, on her poem set to music, "Self Evident," inspired by 9/11 (So Much Shouting, So Much Laughter, 2002): "So here's a toast to all the folks who live in Palestine, Afghanistan, Iraq." djleftover suggests John Trudell, "Rich Man's War" (on AKA Grafitti Man, 1992) gives a shout out to Palestine (in the context of mentioning Harlem, Belfast, El Salvador, Pine Ridge). Thanks to commiecurmudgeon, who reminds us about MIA's PLO referencing on "Sunshowers" (Arular, 2005):
Quit bending all my fingo/Quit beating me like you're Ringo/You wanna go?/You wanna winna war?/Like P.L.O., I don't surrendo/I've got the bombs to make you blow.(MIA's dad was/is a Tamil Tiger, reportedly trained by the PLO in Lebanon.) Commiecurmudgeon also suggests Natacha Atlas's song "Bastet," from Gedida (1999). I think her "Laysh Nata'rak (Why Are We Fighting)" (Diaspora, 1997) is a better choice, which calls for peace between Arabs and Jews:
Why are we fighting/When we're all together?.../Between me and you there is a long history...Let's return to peace/Let's make peace, we are brothers(my translation from Arabic).
I just found out an album of the sort I am looking for has already been released, in France (thanks, Moustafa!), called Il y a un Pays... Palestine (Tactikollectif, 2005).
You can read about it here, if you read French). It's a double CD, with great European (mostly French) and Arab (mostly Palestinian) groups. Among the notable European acts: the great Manu Chao (who played at Bonnaroo this year), Fermin Muguruza, the Basque nationalist singer, the (mostly) Beur hip-hop band Zebda, the "raggasalsa" band Sergent Garcia, the French rock band Noir Désir. Notable Palestinian artists include rap groups DAM and MWR (both of whose members are Palestinian citizens of Israel), Palestinian-Israeli singer Rim Banna, and the fabulous Sabreen.
Although no comparable compilation has been issued in England, a number of prominent English bands have come out for Palestinians, doing benefit performances for the Hoping (Hope and Optimism for Palestinians In the Next Generation) Foundation, which funds proects for children in Palestinian refugee camps. Most active has been Massive Attack, but other participants include Basement Jaxx, Nick Cave, Steva Mason (Beta Band), Spiritualized, Primal Scream (read Primal Scream's account of their reasons for participating here), Lulu (!), Bryan Adams, Chrissie Hynde (The Pretenders), Mick Jones (ex-The Clash and Big Audio Dynamite), and Shane Magowan (ex-The Pogues). This is a true honor role of British bands.
Shame on us that there is nothing comparable going on in the US!