Gaza Palestinian Music
Palestinian musicians from Gaza stepped onto a very different stage when Israel rolled out the red carpet and hosted the Eurovision music competition this week. In the Asayal Studio in Gaza City, five young musicians fought their way through a series of songs that tell the stories of three Palestinian youths from the Gaza Strip, which is under Israeli blockade. They played music to alleviate their suffering and to convey their pain and suffering.
Since Israel's brutal attack on Gaza in 2014, the main demand of Gaza residents has been to lift the blockade. SOL Band is gaining popularity in the besieged Palestinian territory and is the first Palestinian music group to be formed eight years ago. The group advocates for Palestinian rights and last year persuaded members of Congress to help them on foreign trips.
But the Gaza withdrawal is expensive and requires permits - difficult to obtain - and Israel bans travel to the West Bank and other parts of the Middle East and North Africa. In April, Egypt also closed its borders for a few days to Palestinians wishing to travel abroad from Gaza. Now Israel will not allow Palestinians to travel outside Gaza without Israeli or United States permission. Israeli entry permits to the West Bank are required by many Palestinians living abroad, while Palestinian Authority officials say few are leaving Gaza.
Another layer of occupation that influences Palestinian musical expression, especially in Gaza, is the Israeli blockade, which prevents Palestinians from entering the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and other parts of the Middle East and North Africa. There are no state funds for the mediation and revitalization of the Palestinian musical heritage, and there are no fewer than five centers or institutions teaching music throughout the Gaza Strip. Palestinian territory, where the Edward Said Conservatory of Music of Gaza organizes piano concerts and maintains branches, also has a cello and trumpet teacher, he said.
Last year, police banned Shamaly from performing at the jazz tour to Palestine that UNESCO held in the Gaza Strip last year. But this year, for the first time, Gaza musicians selected were allowed to travel to the event.
The Palestinian national competition, which takes place in March and April, is only 50 miles from Jerusalem. Middle Eastern and Arabic string instruments used in classical Palestinian music are sampled. Founded in 2009, Palestine Strings is, according to Edward, the institution that is driving the Palestinian musical renaissance. Lidawi teaches at the University of the West Bank and Al-Quds University in Gaza, home to the world's largest orchestra.
Palestinian hip-hop artists address issues that directly affect Palestinians in occupied Palestine and Israel. DAM's song "I am a Terrorist" pays homage to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 in New York City. Many of them address issues that directly affect Palestinians in the occupied territories and Palestinians living in Israel or in exile. Palestinian artists, whether in Palestine or abroad, talk about their life experiences as Palestinians. In "Are you a Terrorist," for example, the song's title and lyrics address the plight of Palestinians living in occupied and non-occupied Palestine, both inside and outside Israel, as well as the ongoing conflict in Gaza.
Palestinian singer Wafaa Alnjaili said the song's significance was not only for her private life, but also for the international attention it received.
Ayman added: "I am touched by the music we make together and the fact that we had to have the opportunity to work together as a Palestinian artist for so long.
This week's Israeli elections have triggered a new wave of support for the Palestinians in Gaza and their struggle against the blockade imposed by Egypt and Israel. Music has increasingly become a way for young people in Gaza to channel stress and trauma, especially in light of the violence and human rights abuses Palestinians have suffered from Gaza since Israel imposed a blockade on the strip in 2007. The Palestinian people and they continue to live a dignified, hospitable and creative life, no matter how indifferent the international community seems to them. Music making has gained popularity in Gaza due to its proximity to Israel and Egypt and serves as an outlet in times of need. Donations earlier this month have been distributed to families across the West Bank and now to Palestinians outside the Gaza Strip to show love, support and solidarity.
The Palestinian youth listen to "Palestinian music" and feel connected in their themes with patriotism, war and the lost land. Palestinian youth see it as part of their daily lives and as a way of dealing with stress and trauma.
The Times of Israel noted that anyone in a "Palestinian city" is likely to hear a song called "Lovers of Knife-Fighting," which comes from a Palestinian band in Gaza and blares from cars, shops and restaurants. The song encourages West Bank Palestinians to carry out stabbings and kill settlers. These violent songs inspire young Palestinians to follow in the footsteps of the terrorists the song glorifies.