Gaza rappers use music to oppose Israeli occupation but Hamas sees it as an infiltration of western culture


Story Transcript

Artists in Gaza including Rappers are resisting in their own way, using lyrics and music. Music has after all always been a vehicle for human expression and emotion whose words can stir and pierce the hearts of their listeners, and Palestinian youth are no exception.

Stand up: Rap first emerged in the occupied territories as a response to Israeli practices against Palestinians, then it started to expand to include domestic and youth causes.

Making music is a form of resistance to war, occupation, siege and internal problems and also a tool to communicate the reality of life in Palestine.

(Interview: Nour Al-Dain, Gaza Team)
Transcript: (I found myself in this music, I can explain many things, I begin Hip Hop in 2003, I can use this art to present myself and send a lot of messages. Hip Hop is a life style, how I’m living, because I write about everything I’m living everyday about the problem of the occupation, siege, electricity, civil problems.)

The Street Band Rappers have managed in the past few years to perform a number of parties as part of a wider musical line-up, gaining the confidence and experience to organize their own ill-fated gig but now they are banned from performing by the local authorities in Gaza. The real news talked to Mohammad Antar who recorded five albums, some solo, others in collaboration with a band called DARG Team. He also held dozens of concerts, before the permit application and the decision to ban rap. Rappers in Gaza say that Hamas authorities in Gaza are not happy with their type of music, finding it unacceptable.

(Interview: Mohammad Antar, Palestinian Rapper)
Transcript: (Hipop for me is my life style, and rapping is the way I express my self, and present my issues, rap is really important for me, because itâ€s the message that I think is represent people here,, how they live and what they want, my songs talk about all the issues and difficulties that people face here, I’m not allowed to perform in gaza, and I got arrested for my political message in my tracks, their reason because itâ€s a western culture and they do not need it in Gaza,)

At one point, there were three rap bands in Gaza, but most of them have left Gaza. The real news talked to the spokesperson of the Police department in Gaza and asked him why these rappers cannot perform in public and what are the conditions required to obtain a permit. In addition to why Gaza’s cinema houses are still defunct and closed under the name of social and ideological conservatism

(Interview: Ayman Batnigi, spokesperson of the Hamas Police in Gaza)
Transcript: (All applications for holding cultural events should be addressed to the head of the police to decide whether a permit should be given or not. Applications for other events organized by political groups are usually discussed by the internal security to determine the decision. We do not ban any events related to different cultural events if they are unique but we know that some elements who are affiliated to some cultural associations have some social and security problems for their involvement in suspicious acts. We as a conservative society under siege have our own customs and traditions and we are very careful when dealing with western cultural ideas and practices that could be very destructive more than weapons)

Having fallen in love with the music of rappers, they draw rap graffiti, perform break dance and sing Arabic rap, composing their own melodies and lyrics, teaching themselves off the internet. Art and music is the medium through which they can express their frustration and send their message as most governments in Gaza and the West Bank have ignored rap and rappers

(Interview: Hazem Balousha, Communication And Development Center)
Transcript: (Youth in Gaza are representing the community, they have the energy, but the problem, they do not have the space, and the place to express themselves, they are busy with the daily problems, problems with occupation, restriction of movement, and they have problems with the local authorities, the restriction on freedom of expression affected them of expressing themselves in organizing whatever they want, for example, the rappers were restricted to conduct concerts in public, youth are not able to gather and to organize public events, for example, many NGO’s were shut down, the political problems influence the situation, the division, the local authorities are restricting some activities because concerning they belong to the rival, they do not have the institution backing them, the majority of youth unemployed, so they are busy looking for better future)

(Interview: Asma Al-Ghoul, Youth activist)
Transcript: (The situion of freedom of expression is very sad in Gaza, especially for rappers and for rap music, there are a lot of reason, the society, the traditions and of the course the government’s policy with them, I remember 3 years ago I saw Palestinian rapper team performing in Copenhagen, I saw of the concerts there and I cannot see them performing in Gaza! Young people in Gaza need new kind of music to express their energy, classic will not work with this energy, most of the words in these songs about Palestine, against occupation, it’s not about love, the words are very patriot words, their songs very strong )

Young people in Gaza make up about 55% of Gaza’s 1.7 million population, many have talents, striving like other youth in most parts of the world to have a better future. They take part in social events, to educate and express themselves.

Stand up: Artistic events ranging from concerts, to workshops to art exhibitions, take place regularly in Gaza to tackle different issues, for example we are now going to see this play which talks about the suffering and resilience inside Gaza.
The event took place at Al-Qattan foundation for the child in Gaza city, where it was attended by local and international activists, who advocate for human rights and justice.
Attending such events, at least Gazans do not hear the sound of bombs, bullets or drones.
Through holding such cultural activities, talented young people aim to send a message that Palestinians are and resilient despite all odds.

Yousef Al-Helou
The Real News
Gaza