Arab activists and singers showed solidarity with the Palestinian artist, Muhammad Assaf, after Israel withdrew his entry permits, calling for the cancellation of his activities associated with the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian refugees.
Assaf, who comes from the Gaza Strip, had earlier obtained a permit to reach Jerusalem And other areas in the West Bank and IsraelIn his capacity as Youth Ambassador to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA).
However, the head of the Foreign Affairs and Security Committee in the Israeli Knesset announced the withdrawal of the permit from Assaf, accusing him of inciting against his country.
Israel does not allow Palestinians, residents of Gaza and the West Bank, to enter it except after obtaining special permits.
‘Accusations of incitement’
The decision to ban Assaf came months after the Badin Center for Middle Eastern Studies scrutinized the activities of the Palestinian artist.
Israeli newspapers quoted Likud MK Avi Dichter as saying that the decision to withdraw entry permits from Assaf came “following the disclosure of videos calling for attacks on Israel.”
Dichter also affirmed that “although the Israeli government cannot prevent Assaf from entering the West Bank, because he holds the Palestinian nationality, it will prevent him from entering Israeli areas,” he said.
Dichter added that “his country will work with UNRWA to stop Assaf’s activities in the international agency, and will communicate with the UAE to prevent Assaf from continuing his activities,” which he described as “inflammatory.”
Assaf “adheres to Palestinian values”
For his part, Assaf, who is currently residing in Dubai, responded to the decision to ban him, through his social media accounts.
Assaf stressed that the Israeli decision “will not discourage him from loving his country and adhering to Palestinian national values and praising them in all forums.”
Assaf considered that the decision is nothing but a continuation of the policies of repression and curbing the freedoms that the Palestinian people suffer.
“Symbolism” of the Palestinian traditional song
Fans of the Palestinian artist expressed their support for him in the face of what they called “the Israeli hostile campaign.”
The respondents with the tag # We are all Muhammad Assaf believe that “the ban on the young artist comes as part of the Israeli efforts and its continuous war on Palestinian intellectuals committed to the cause.”
Arab commentators also praised Assaf and his “desperate defense of the Palestinian struggle and of the children of prisoners and martyrs,” as they put it.
Many circulated clips of Assaf’s musical performances, pointing to “the important role that patriotic and heritage songs play in reviving the Palestinian cause, promoting concepts of belonging and mobilizing the masses to make change.”
The solidarity shown by some with Assaf goes beyond his person as a beloved artist, as many tweeters believe that his success “contributed to the re-spread of traditional Palestinian music.”
Arab commentators consider that the Palestinian folk song is a form of resistance against “attempts to obliterate and curtail”. In their view, it documents “part of the history of the Palestinian people, their customs, and the changes that took place in their past and present, and the displacement, siege and displacement they went through.”
On the other hand, the artist’s critics infer a lengthy report by the Israeli “Badin” Center, accusing Assaf of promoting violence.
The report refers to a concert by Assaf in the Palestinian city of Rawabi, hours after an Israeli was killed in a Palestinian operation.
The Center indicated that Assaf honored at the time “Umm Nasser,” which the Palestinians call the mother of the prisoners, while the Israeli report considers her “a mother to six terrorists.”
Israeli commentators also accuse UNRWA of ignoring Assaf’s violent messages when he sang in its schools to return to Safad, Haifa and Jerusalem. “
In parallel, Arab tweeters criticized Arab officials for “their silence about what is happening to Palestinian artists and intellectuals.”
They accused most of the media in the Arab countries of engaging in a campaign to “demonize Palestinian artists and their cause,” as they put it.
What is the truth behind the deletion of the song “Ali Al-Kufia”?
Tweeters on social media say that the “Arab Idol” program on YouTube, affiliated with the Saudi-owned MBC channel, has deleted a video of the song “Ali Kufia” that the Palestinian artist sang during his participation in the program in 2013.
There are conflicting accounts about the fact that the clip was removed from the MBC account on YouTube.
While some people in Palestine and a number of other countries complain about their inability to view the clip, Twitter users in Egypt confirm, for example, that the video is available in their country.
The BBC’s London office visited the clip on the “Arab Idol” YouTube channel, but was unable to play it.
The warning below indicates that the video is blocked in some countries for copyright reasons.
Neither Arab Idol nor MBC had any comment on the matter at this writing.
Muhammad Assaf is a Palestinian artist, born in Libya and lived in Gaza. His star rose to prominence after he won the “Arab Lovable” competition organized by MBC in Cairo in the summer of 2012.
Abbas’ arrival to take the preliminary exams to participate in the program has received the attention of the Arab and international media.
When Assaf tried to obtain a number that would enable him to participate in the competition, he found that all had been booked. One of his colleagues gave him his number to compete after he had traveled long distances from Gaza to reach Cairo.
Assaf was able to gather people around him and garner 68 million votes from the audience and those in charge of the competition. And his victory won the interest of Palestinians and Arabs, both popular and official. Celebrations at that time spread throughout Palestine and the Arab world, rejoicing for the Palestinian youth’s victory.
Assaf was famous for her patriotic songs such as “I am my Palestinian blood” and “Ali Al-Kufiya.”
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