Posts Tagged ‘Palestine’

The Narcicyst x Shadia Mansour: “Hamdulillah”

September 22, 2010 Leave a comment

After long last, and not a moment too soon or late, the much-anticipated music video for the first collaboration between Iraqi-Canadian MC The Narcicyst and Palestinian-British singer Shadia Mansour, “Hamdulillah”. Kudos to director Ridwan Adhami for a beautiful portrayal of contemporary Islam through the simplest montage of faces. It comes as a relief for one living in not one but two islamophobic societies, the Netherlands and the US. Nevertheless, al-hamduli’llah.

Lyrics and commentary coming soon..


Logic x Shadia Mansour: So Serious

June 29, 2010 Leave a comment

Brand new video from South London’s Logic (co-founder with Lowkey of the youth mobilization group, The People’s Army), and the great Shadia Mansour.

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Gaza Flotilla Protest X Lowkey (UK)

June 3, 2010 2 comments

A photo essay from the May 31 Manchester protest against Israel’s attack on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla, from the BBC building to central Manchester, set to Lowkey’s anthem “Long Live Palestine” (the first song on iTunes with the word ‘Palestine’ in the title).

DAM in Sheikh Jarrah II: The Remix

June 3, 2010 Leave a comment

For those who caught my piece about DAM’s concert in East Jerusalem’s Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood, the site of weekly protests against the Israeli government’s eviction of Arab Israelis, here’s an amazing post-script: two Palestinian teenagers, male & female, sitting on a graffiti’d wall in Sheikh Jarrah, one wearing a kufiya, singing the DAM anthem, “Min Erhabi/Who’s the Terrorist?”

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Hamas Hates on Hip Hop

April 26, 2010 Leave a comment

This just in from Haaretz (via Reuters):

Hamas police have broken up the Gaza Strip’s first major hip-hop concert.

The B Boy Gaza group had just started a lively dance set late on Saturday in a crowded auditorium when police from the Islamist Hamas group that rules the Gaza Strip ended the performance with shouts of “the show is over”, witnesses said.

“I told one of the policemen that rap meant respect for all people, but he didn’t seem to be listening. He said it was an immoral dance,” one of the dancers said.

Hamas officials said the performance, in a conservative enclave where most musical shows strike a nationalistic note, was shut down only because organizers had not applied for a police permit for the gathering.

The Palestinian Center for Human Rights said police confiscated cameras and tapes at the venue and arrested six of the performers. They were released after signing a pledge not to hold further performances without police permission.

Hamas has denied accusations by Gaza human rights groups that it is trying to impose Islamic law in the enclave where 1.5 million Palestinians live. In public speeches, Hamas leaders have urged Palestinians to adhere to Islamic values.

(Photo Credit: Abigail Hauslohner for TIME)

Narcicyst x SXSW: No Party in Apartheid

March 25, 2010 Leave a comment

For those of us (myself included) who missed last week’s South by Southwest festival, there was one notable event that took place outside of the venues and that was a small but heartfelt protest against a private Israeli consulate party.  The party featured a number of Israeli bands, including the popular Hip Hop act, Soulico, at a club in downtown Austin. However, not everyone found the timing of the party to be particularly appropriate (but since when do Israelis give a F about timing?). Iraqi-Canadian rapper The Narcicyst, alongside Syrian-American rapper Omar Offendum and Palestinian rapper Ragtop, led a rally outside the club, with bullhorns & placards, chanting “Ain’t no party in apartheid!”

The reference to South Africa is apt, in my opinion and from my firsthand observation of the willful isolation of Arabs (read: Palestinians) in Israel. And the protest also strikes me as completely appropriate, if not necessary, given the announcement only a week earlier of the construction of 1600 new Israeli homes in East Jerusalem, an arrogant affront to the world community.

Narcy puts it very succinctly in an interview that was later broadcast on NPR, “Our basic thing is BDS: Boycott Divestment Sanctions. We want the people of Palestine to be represented and for them to have an identification just like everybody else in the world does.”

Here’s a lil video from the protest (thanks to participant Grace Alfar)

One of the members of Soulico, Ronen Sabbo, felt that Narcy and the other protestors were protesting against the wrong people: “They don’t know us personally, they don’t know what we are about. They don’t know that we are trying to do the opposite of any government or of any occupation or establishment. We are trying to do music with people like Arabic MCs, Arabic singers, we have Arabic instruments, and, it’s funny that they demonstrate in front of us as if we’re soldiers. We’re just musicians you know.”

But I have to admit, and Narcy says the same in his own response, the protest is not against the musicians themselves but against a government whose actions they implicitly condone by agreeing to play at their party. Narcy said, “We have no problem, we’re not here to boycott the artists per se, we did research on the artists and checked their work out and it’s not necessarily anything against them, but the Israeli consulate represents the Israeli government, regardless, so you can’t really separate the two.”

Anat Gilead, Israeli consul to the US for cultural affairs, had this to say: “We’re doing culture here. We’re focusing on music and people that music can bring. That is what we’re here for.” But I can’t accept that any thinking person could celebrate culture in the midst of a total disrespect for humanity.

There really is just no party in apartheid (except, unjustly, for the oppressors). The just party will be afterward, when the separation and humiliation finally come to an end and everyone can join, or at least enjoy their own, in peace.

(“Ain’t no party in apartheid” courtesy of Narcy’s excellent blog:

Photo credit: Laith Majali / Immortal Entertainment (

DAM in Sheikh Jarrah: Protest re-Imagined

March 15, 2010 1 comment

For several months now, left-wing Israeli and Palestinian protesters have been holding weekly protests in the town of Sheikh Jarrah, in East Jerusalem, to protest the evictions of Palestinian families from their homes in favor of Jewish settlers. Protesters, Arab and Israeli, have been met with police violence, rampant arrests, and regular visits from stone-throwing Orthodox Jews.

Nevertheless, hundreds continue to gather each Saturday in Sheikh Jarrah, among them foreign activists and Arab-Israeli lawmakers. Social media platforms, such as Twitter and Facebook, have been instrumental in raising international awareness about what’s going on in East Jerusalem and keeping supporters informed about the rallies. YouTube and Flickr have also played important roles, allowing for real-time photo/video archiving of the rallies, including aggressive police behavior, arrests, and counter-protests from Orthodox Jews. The video below shows a typical scene from such a rally, beginning with smiling Israeli demonstrators offering a bouquet of flowers to the chief of police, and ending with police getting aggressive with demonstrators at the end of the rally and Orthodox Jews approaching.

The day before, the Palestinian rap superstars, DAM (Da Arabian MCs) gave a free performance in Sheikh Jarrah (promoted by the International Solidarity Movement) that drew a large crowd as well, though no arrests or violence (though the concert did lead to the police declaring the next day’s rally unauthorized, citing a regulation that allows only 1 public assembly per week).

Their underlying message was the same as that of the protesters, though the words they used go beyond a simple chant to the complex rhyme scheme of their 2001 anthem, “Min Irhabi/Who’s the Terrorist?”, which frames the rhetorical conundrum of the powerless Palestinian being accused of terror by those who terrorize (the Israeli government) by evicting families from their homes:

Who’s a terrorist?
I’m a terrorist?!
How am I a terrorist when you’ve taken my land?
Who’s a terrorist?
You’re the terrorist!
You’ve taken everything I own while I’m living in my homeland
You’re killing us like you’ve killed our ancestors
You want me to go to the law?
What for?
You’re the Witness, the Lawyer, and the Judge!
If you are my Judge
I’ll be sentenced to death
You want us to be the minority?
To end up the majority in the cemetery?
In your dreams!

The question this raises for me is one of the effectiveness of public assembly and how, in the Imagination Age, we can understand political protest in the form of cultural performance. By drawing a crowd of young people to a live music event, where the focus was on the artists and their words, not on confrontation with the police or with Orthodox Jewish settlers, the organizers of the DAM show in Sheikh Jarrah achieved, in my opinion, a level of political statement as strong as any other. This type of event allows the call for justice to be sounded without inciting violence, and offers an alternative means of contextualizing the conflict within the minds of young audiences, wherein the arts are seen as a viable form of protest, and an alternative to physical conflict. It is yet another powerful example of music being used as a political tool in the Middle East, with Hip Hop leading the charge.

In comparing these two events in Sheikh Jarrah, neither of which received much attention in the press nor any official response from the Israeli government, how do we then measure their relative effectiveness? I would argue that the events were most effective in tandem,  expanding a traditional protest event into a multi-dimensional, cultural happening and linking cultural expression to an ongoing political struggle. With the dissemination of photos and videos via social media and crowd-sourcing platforms, both events succeeded at reaching local and international audiences in a way that they never would have been able to achieve through traditional news coverage. Furthermore, the coupling of diverse events around a single cause augments the dimensions of the overall campaign by offering multiple points of engagement for activists, supporters, and observers. In the case of Sheikh Jarrah, Hip Hop has added that dimension of cultural engagement and, in so doing, expanded the local base of support and the global impact of the movement. Whether this model of public protest will eventually eliminate the need for traditional physical confrontation is almost irrelevant. What is important here is that the legacy of young people rallying around political art is alive and well in the Imagination Age.

Photo credits: (above) Brady Ng (via Palestine Monitor), (top)

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