Palestine-born, Berlin-based artist Dirar Kalash faced an accident after a gig without health insurance. But an outpouring of support is providing hope and recovery – a testament to the influence he has on experimental and electronic artists internationally. Get to know Dirar, his friends, and how to help.

The story so far

Dirar Kalash is a beloved, innovative multi-instrumentalist and sound artist, a close friend of a community of Arabic-origin and international artists in Berlin and around the world. He’s been active in Exist, the Palestinian-organized international project, in the Radio AlHara platform, and created the Sonic Liberation Front. He’s also just a stunningly inspiring musician – you won’t want to miss his music and videos below, CDM readers.

Many immigrants and refugees, as here in Berlin, quickly discover how hard it is trying to navigate immigration bureaucracy. Having just cleared other barriers to residency, Dirar got injured before he was able to get access to health insurance. It’s the all-too-familiar outsider’s dilemma, the chicken-and-egg problem of trying to make yourself “local.”

Here’s the call that went out earlier this week, just after he was hurt:

Our friend and collaborator Dirar Kalash, a deeply gifted multi-disciplinary and multi-instrumental musician, sound artist, and creator of Sonic Liberation Front at Radio Al-Hara, suffered an accident while on the way home from a gig in late November. Dirar had been in hospital up until a few days ago, having sustained serious injuries across his body, the most severe being broken facial bones in his nose and under his eyes. Having only recently received his permit to live and work in Germany—a place he felt the need to relocate to given the conditions for artists in Palestine—Dirar has no health insurance and as a result must pay for treatment on his own. As an artist wholly and soulfully dedicated to nurturing and dispersing his work, living from gig to gig and project to project, he is unable to continue performing and creating for the foreseeable future.

Given such circumstances, these medical payments are simply impossible for him to cover on his own and the incurring debt could threaten his legal status. The cost of treatment so far is almost 6000 Euros, and yet the amount will increase after other upcoming and necessary operations. Not to forget that he’ll be needing a doctor’s review, medicine and also that he’ll not be able to perform at least two months from now, which will leave him with any income at least for the next two months. As Exist family and Radio Al Hara family, his friends, collaborators, we created this campaign to help him pay these devastating costs of treatment and recovery and to manifest some hope in a dark time, which we believe that 10k is the amount to keep him standing as we all wish for him.  All of us, Dirar included, will immensely appreciate your help and support.

Now, the good news: the network to which he’s given so much is now ready to give back. Funds have been coming in to cover his mounting medical bills – though more will be needed soon. And that gesture of support is also reaching Dirar, who writes:

Infinite gratitude and much love to all supporters, your support is working like a miracle: I am recovering, and feeling better and better each day. There is a group of friends who almost never leave my house, helping me get by with all that is needed, and we have reached almost twice the crowdfunding goal set. All of this is a miracle and is working better than even the actual treatment itself. No words can express my gratitude to all those who are helping me with donations, with getting by everyday, even the random house visits.

You can join the effort here:

A celebration in music

Let’s definitely keep up the support for Dirar and – if you don’t know him, now’s your chance to absorb his voice in sound while folks work on getting him better and back to work at the rate his body allows.

Today Wednesday, Radio AlHara is running a marathon of music in support of him – still more evidence of the strength of this network, in their musicality and humanity. Here’s Khyam’s post – looking forward to his set:

14:00 00970
15:00 Asifeh
16:00 Dirar Kalash
17:00 Firas Shehadeh
18:00 Karen ng & Jasper Stadhouders
19:00 Khyam Allami
20:00 Luke Stewart
21:00 Nicolás Jaar
22:00 Nour Sokhon & Flugen
23:00 Odai Masri
00:00 Sara Persico

Plus, Dirar is still giving back, even now – with his Bandcamp collection free. So go digging, please. There’s a ton to explore.

As a way of saying thank you, I’m offering all of my music on bandcamp for free download, I know it might not mean so much but that’s the least I can do. With music being a part of my being, consider it as if I’m offering you a part of myself to listen to, even though this sounds more like a cliche but that’s the truth in fact. Please feel welcome to grab all the music on my bandcamp page and share it:

Okay, soapbox mode for a minute – but just because I’ve had friends talking about this a lot for years. This is the kind of support we need for the artists who inspire us – to treat them as humans and friends. It’s ultimately, to take actual action to support one another, while we’re still with each other. (See, for contrast, cultural appropriation and industries that treat artists and workers alike as resources to exploit.) But that was exactly the kind of activist network Dirar has created, what projects like Radio AlHara, Exist, and Sonic Liberation Front are all about.

There’s no reason to watch our heroes suffer, to be ageist and ableist in how we approach music, or to wait until people are gone before we support them. We can resist the industry and society around us, be human, and do it now.

Gute Besserung, Dirar.