Sunday, January 31, 2016

Supermodel Gigi Hadid, Palestinian (and the kufiya proves it); Zayn Malik's "Pillowtalk"

Supermodel Gigi Hadid has been coming out as Palestinian (or, half-Palestinian--her mother, Yolanda Foster, is Dutch, her father is real estate developer Mohamed Hadid), ever since December 2015, and her Palestinian-ness has been getting a lot of attention in the media, as reported by Khelil Bouarrouj on the blog of the Institute for Palestine Studies. Gigi's instagram photo of her (and her girlfriends') henna'd hands is what prompted all the attention, but she has also posed in a Coco Chanel designed kufiya-styled top. (More on Chanel's kufiya-styled line in a future post!)

I hope Bouarrouj is correct in his optimism that it's good for Palestinians when some high-profile figures like Gigi celebrate their heritage.

Meanwhile, Gigi's boyfriend (or is he?) Zayn Malik (ex-One Direction) has a new single "Pillowtalk" that was (from January 28-29) at position #1 on the Billboard + Twitter Trending 140 chart. Zayn Malik's dad is British Pakistani. In Zayn's video he is snoggling with the half-Palestinian Gigi Hadid. Both of 'em are blonde -- is this how "Muslims" subversively penetrate mainstream Western popular culture? The vid was only released on January 28, and as of this posting on January 31, it had over 23 million views. So I guess it's rather popular. What does it say when people named Malik and Hadid sit at the commanding heights of US-Euro popular culture? What do people who click on that YouTube video think of Donald Trump's Islamophobia?

UPDATE February 1: I've been informed that the reason Gigi was wearing that kufiya-themed outfit was that she was flown in to Dubai to showcase it for the Chanel resort collection. Nothing at all to do with Palestinian pride. (Thanks, Mezna!)

Saturday, January 30, 2016

A new generation of Palestinian strugglers and their kufiyas

The Electronic Intifada recently (January 28) published a set of stunning photographs, courtesy ActiveStills, of young Palestinians confronting the Israeli forces of the occupation as well as the security forces of the PA, over the last four months. They are amazing photos (by Anne Paq in Bethlehem, Ezz Al-Zanoon in the Gaza Strip, Mohannad Darabee in the Ramallah area, Oren Ziv in Bethlehem and the Ramallah area). I find EI's report somewhat disingenuous, however, in that it fails to mentions one key aspect of the recent upsurge in confrontations -- that many have called this the "knife intifada," given that it has been characterized by a series of lone wolf knife attacks, as well as car rammings and shootings, aimed at Israelis, both soldiers and civilians, and has resulted in the deaths (between September 13 and January 5) of 25 Israelis. The period of course has been marked by clashes between groups of Palestinians (usually, rock-throwing) and Israeli soldiers, and of course Palestinian casualties are far higher, totaling over 160. (EI does mention the numbers of Israeli dead, but not the nature of the killing.) Since the fact that knife attacks are a significant element of the current struggle, it seems odd to me that EI doesn't discuss them at all. Instead, the quite striking images of Palestinian resistance seem to be the story.

And while I admire the courage as well as the stylistic flare of those Palestinians now fighting the occupation, at the same time it pains me to think that these young people represent yet another generation of Palestinians condemned to confronting violence. This occupation is about to be (in June) 49 years old. FORTY NINE. How can this keep going on and on and on and on? What does it mean for us to admire the bravery and fortitude of this new generation of heroic Palestinian strugglers? I would much rather not see such photos any more, instead I want to see photos of young Palestinians dancing and partying and studying and enjoying "normal" life. I am sick of it. And yet...don't they look flash?


North of Ramallah, near Beit El settlement

 North of Ramallah, near Beit El settlement


“We cover our faces because the occupying authority might [otherwise] arrest us. We also 
fear our own [Palestinian] authority would arrest us in the same way.” Bethlehem

North of Ramallah, near Beit El settlement 
(the insignia of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine is on the headband)



Gaza Strip, east of al-Bureij refugee camp


Gaza Strip, east of al-Bureij refugee camp 

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Another Jajouka movie

There is the 1983 documentary that Philip Schuyler worked on, Master Musicians of Jahjouka.

(And please see Schuyler's astute article, "Joujouka/Jajouka/Zahjoukah: Moroccan Music and Euro-American Imagination", which you can read here.)

There is Augusta Palmer's Hand of Fatima (2010).

The Master Musicians Of Jajouka with Bachir Attar (Roskilde Festival 2014); photo: Morten Aagaard Krogh

And now there is another, Jajouka Quelque Chose De Bon Vient Vers Toi, by Eric and Marc Hurtado, members of the experimental/industrial music group Étant Donnés from Grenoble. The brothers were born in Rabat, Morocco. The film is entered in the 27th Marseille International Film Festival, to be held in July 2016. The festival website has this to say about the film:

The film opens with an archaic tale, in brief stylised tableaux, concerning the divine creation of music. The myth is extended to a universe of sacred dimensions where it is difficult to differentiate the legend from its current perpetuation. Where are we? In the Moroccan Rif, in Jajouka, a village where, for over two thousand years, fertility rites involving music and dance, have been presided over by Bou-Jeloud, “the Father of Skins”, a local version of the god Pan.

The Hurtado brothers are famous musicians: their group Etant Donnés came to prominence through collaborations with various artists including Alan Vega, Genesis P-Orridge and Philippe Grandrieux (they produced original soundtracks for several of his films). They are also known as experimental filmmakers. Here their two passions are combined, raising the challenge of travelling back in time to hail the Master Musicians of Jajouka, yesterday and today. Besides, has time passed? It is therefore not about concocting a score destined to accompany autonomous images, but about making the music (its strident nudity, its incantatory austerity) and its history the very substance of the images and the scenario being staged. Their choice was obviously Pasolinian: to resurrect the archaic while remaining faithful to it, through the treatment of decor, lighting, acting and costumes. Here, the beauty lies in the rough friction between the muteness of the characters and their unbridled momentum towards another potential voice.

--Jean-Pierre Rehm

Based on the write-up, it seems the film is going to go over the familiar myths surrounding Jajouka (it's about the rites of Pan, Jajouka and its rites are located in archaic times, and so on), that Schuyler's article so cleverly deconstructs. But maybe someone who reads this will be able to see the film and can tell us differently...

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Recommended: The Lost 45s of Sudan from Shellachead

One of the best reissuers out there, Shellachead, put out a wonderful collection of Sudanese music last month, all 45s recorded on Sudan's Munisphone label in the sixties and seventies. I was only familiar with two of the artists previously, the fabulous female trio al-Bilabil (read about them here) and Sayed Khalifa, who is most well-known in Egypt, at least, for his song "Mambo Soudani," which he performs in the 1957 film Tamr Hinna.

And here is a bit of info about Khalifa, courtesy Heather Maxwell of the VOA:

More than any other singer of his generation, Sayed Khalifa, is responsible for the popularity of ‘Omdurman songs’ throughout the Muslim Sahel and the Horn of Africa. A dynamic performer, Khalifa won fans throughout Africa with his reinterpretations of classic Sudanese songs in the national languages of his African audiences. He was born in 1928 in the village of Ad Dibeiba, not far from Khartoum, and in 1947 received a scholarship to study at the Arab Music Institute in Cairo. He made his first radio broadcasts, on Egyptian radio, during these student years, and in 1956 wrote his name into Sudanese history with his recording of ‘Ya Watani’ a patriotic song praising Sudanese independence. Like many of his musical peers, Sayed Khalifa’s career was curtailed by the Islamic regimes of the late 1980s, with some of his more sensual songs purged from the Radio Omdurman archives. The great Sayed Khalifa passed away on July 2, 2001 while undergoing treatment for heart disease.

His most famous song, and one of the Sudan’s most well travelled melodies, is ‘El Mambo Soudani’. The music was composed by Sayed Abdel Ray, and Sayed Khalifa himself composed the lyrics. This song has become a staple of Sudanese wedding bands, and was also the title of the 1998 Piranha records ‘El Mambo Soudani’ by the Cairo based group Salamat (Sayed Khalifa appears on the group’s 1998 CD ‘Ezzayakoum’). After encouraging his listeners to dance the Sudanese Mambo, Sayed Khalifa sings of his beloved, of her beauty and graceful silhouette, and of the suffering she puts him through.

But the other tracks on the collection are all worth listening to. You can listen to the entire collection here, via bandcamp, and you can download it for the very reasonable price of $5. (Plus you get the booklet that goes along with the music, as a pdf.) Highly recommended.

Friday, January 15, 2016

David Bowie was many things, and among them, he was married to a Muslim

Aki Nawaz (of Fun'Da'Mental) posted this photo of the late David Bowie on Facebook yesterday (January 14).

It's David's wedding (1992) to Iman Mohamed Abdulmajid, daughter of Marian and Mohamed Abdulmajid, all shown here. Aki states that he had not seen any condolences to Iman on social media, and so he wrote, 'for what it's worth and respectfully in the traditional religious manner we say "From God we come and return" and may your pain and loss be bearable to all the family.'

I found this incredibly moving, both to be reminded that Bowie, besides being all the other incredible things that he was, which so many great articles and posts have told us over the past few days, was also a married man, and, yes, was married into a Muslim family. 

Some folks objected to Aki's post saying, she wasn't an observant Muslim, she posed for Playboy, etc. On the other hand, I've never seen evidence that Iman ever publicly abandoned or criticized her faith. I'm not a Muslim myself, but I'd say that, from the Muslim perspective as I would want to understand it, it is up to God to judge Iman and not us, and therefore, Aki's condolences seem entirely appropriate. 

As an aside, Aki's post impelled me to do a bit of reading, and I have learned that Iman's father was a Somali diplomat and her mother a gynecologist, and that Iman attended high school in Egypt and speaks (apparently) Arabic.

And as for David Bowie, allah yarhamu.

Toukadime mix for Onorient + what 113 sampled on "Tonton du Bled"

The inimitable Toukadime did a mix for Onorient awhile back. Check it out here:

I didn't know people were doing mixes like this: you play the first tune on YouTube, leave it on, and it cycles you through the next 11 tracks. Great stuff, including the likes of Ahmed Wahby, Reinette l'Oranaise, Cheb Khaled, Line Monty (who I recently learned was 'discovered' by Charles Aznavour), Haim Botbol, El Kahloui Tounsi...

And I learned something I had not known from this mix, that the sample that the renowned French rap group 113 use on their 2000 hit (#5 on French charts) "Tonton du Bled" is from the first track on this playlist, Algerian ouahrani star Ahmed Wahby's "Harguetni Eddamaa." Check it out.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

New Algerian music scene: Sofiane Saidi, NOMAD'stones, Labess

A couple informants have clued me into a 'new' music scene happening in Algeria. Three examples of what is a broader trend, that includes Kabylia -- but I have no examples yet from the latter.

1. NOMAD'stones

The sound is very French, with vocals in Arabic, and the look of the vid is too. And no wonder, it was filmed (for reasons I don't know) in Montreal. Can't find much material on them as of yet, but it's a great sound.

2. Labess

Labess are in fact a Montreal-based Algerian group, led by singer and guitarist Nedjim Bouizzoul, who was born in Algeria, and moved to Montreal with his family in 2003. Although based in Canada, their reputation has spread to the Maghreb and the Maghrebi diaspora, and so it makes sense to link them to the "Algerian" scene. Read more about the group here.

3. Sofiane Saidi

This track is my favorite of the three, probably because it kicks so, so hard, and is at basis a modernized version of a "rai trab" song, rai in the style of a Cheikha Rimitti or a Cheikha Rabia. (And perhaps the presence of Transglobal Underground's Tim Whelan on the track helps too.) Sofiane Saidi was born in Sidi Bel Abbès, one of the birthplaces of rai music. (Although Oran is often considered to be the wellspring of rai, both Sidi Bel Abbès and Aïn Témouchent are important cradles of the genre as well.) He has been performing for some time, at least since the mid-90s, and has worked in the past with the likes of Natacha Atlas (he appears on her 2006 album Mish Maoul) and with Tunisian oudist Smadj (on his 2015 album Spleen). His first album, El Mordjane (The corral), was released in December 2015. It's quite good, but this track, "Gasbah Ya Moul El Taxi" (roughly, take me to the Casbah, cabbie), is by far the best.

Read more about Sofiane Saidi here and here

(Hopefully my informants will hip me to more of the new Algerian scene.)

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Haifa, Palestine, 1937: a photo from the Japanese Muslim Association

Courtesy Professor Kelly Hammond, History Department, University of Arkansas. I hope she passes on some more! (The photo is from a publication by the Japanese Muslim Association that she came across during her archival research.)

Recommended: Fadoul -- Moroccan funk from the 70s

Habibi Funk Records has tracked down the until-now obscure, and amazing funk recordings, of Fadoul et les Privilèges (sometimes spelled Fadaul et les Privilèges), and released them, on vinyl, CD, and download. You can listen to the tracks and read about them and order them here, on the Habibi Funk bandcamp site.

The recording has received a fair amount of press, and it is well deserved. Jannis Stürtz, who runs the label, describes the sound as "Arabic funk played with a punk attitude," and that seems pretty accurate. Even if the music was recorded before anyone in Morocco was imagining punk.

If/when you go to listen, I recommend starting with "Sid Redad," which is an Arabic cover of James Brown's "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag," and "Al Zman Saib," an Arabic cover of Free's "All Right Now." Then try "La Tiq Tiq Latiq," which is the Spencer Davis Group's "I'm A Man," in Arabic.

I was surprised by how "Al Zman Saib" (Times are tough, roughly) was rendered on the cover as الزمان صعيب as I would have thought that الزمان صعب was the correct spelling. But maybe that's how it is spelled in Moroccan colloquial?

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Robert Crumb plays Turkish music from his record collection on John Heneghan’s Old Time Radio Show

R. Crumb is known not just for his comics but also for his prodigious collection of old '78s. Here he shares some of his Turkish records on John Henegahn's "Old Time Radio Show." Neither of them have much of a clue about the musicians or the instruments or the names, but they really do appreciate the tracks. And they are great. The only one of the artists I was familiar with on the list is Udi Hrant Kenkulian (listed here as Oudi Hrant), many of whose recordings are in print. (Crumb is apparently unaware that Hrant was Armenian.)

I really liked the track by Fikriye Hanim who, it turns out, was a companion and lover of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk during the 1920. 

Here's what was published about her in the Turkish Daily News, July 4, 2006: 

The burial location of Fikriye Hanim, companion and lover of Turkey's founder Mustafa Kemal Ataturk during the 1920s, is still unknown according to a heartbreaking story published in Sabah on Monday. Although no one is certain about how her death took place, Turkey's first unofficial "first lady" is commonly believed to have killed herself in the proximity of the Presidential Palace. Voicing speculation on the whereabouts of Fikriye Hanim's grave, Sabah writes that it could be located under a statue of Ataturk located at the Etnographic Museum, as evidence suggests that her body was transported to that location before the museum there was opened. However, there are no official records from the time of her death says Sabah, quoting a cemetery official as saying, "The systematization of burial and death records came much later than Fikriye Hanim's death." 

I wish I could find more about her. If you read Turkish, there is an entry for her on the Turkish wikipedia. (Unfortunately Google translate did not help me much in understanding it.)

Monday, January 11, 2016

Kufiyas on the armed anti-government militants at Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, Oregon

Several people alerted me to the widely-circulated photos of the armed anti-government militants who occupied the Oregon nature refuge.

Rob Kerr/AFP/Getty Images

The photo (source: The Guardian), from January 4, shows Ammon Bundy speaking at the militants' daily press conference. I have no idea who the guy is on Bundy's right, garbed in the green kufiya.

As you can see from the photos below, from January 8, taken by Rick Bowmer for AP (found here), sporting kufiyas seems to be pretty routine for these guys. 

I suppose there are at least a couple of sources here, and I'm pretty sure that donning kufiyas for these guys has nothing at all to do with Palestinian solidarity. First, kufiyas were and no doubt still are worn routinely by US soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan, going back to 2003. You can find "military" ones easily with a google search, although they are more commonly called shemaghs in such circles, it seems. I have a fire retardant (!) khaki kufiya brought me by someone who served in Iraq, and I think it is military issue. I've posted about military kufiyas, which I've described as examples of "tough guy" kufiyas, here and here

Second, over the past decade or so, there have been several occasions where bad-ass tough guys in Hollywood movies are shown in kufiyas. My favorite is John Travolta in From Paris with Love, but there are lots of examples. Here's a few, but you can find many more in this blog. 

Finally, kufiyas have been showing up in gun catalogs. For instance, this photo, from the Griffon Industries 2011 calendar. The woman (Miss June) in the kufiya and camo bikini top is being used to market the gun. (There are more items around like this, and I need to do more searching, and posting.)

My guess is that the armed militants in Oregon are wearing kufiyas, inspired or influenced by the three sorts of uses described above.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

"Linda, Linda": Samir Tawil, Haim Moshe, 3 Mustaphas 3

Syrian singer and oud player Samir al-Tawil wrote "Linda, Linda" and released it in 1967. It was his biggest hit and has been covered numerous times. You can grab it from the inimitable music tumblr Naksh al-Sanadeeq here.

Check out this blogpost by Aziza al-Tawil, a US belly dancer. Her mother Johanna was a belly dancer, who Samir Tawil met in the US. The two apparently had a relationship and a child (Aziza), and Aziza claims that the song "Linda, Linda" was written for her mother. You can read more here, on Aziza's blog, and also view a Dutch TV report where Aziza is interviewed about the strange, and somewhat unbelievable, story (English subtitles).

Also somewhat unbelievable, but true without a doubt, is that the Israeli Yemeni singer Haim Moshe recorded "Linda Linda," and it was a big hit for him in the Arab world in particular during the mid-'80s. The story is covered by Amy Horowitz in her excellent book Mediterranean Israeli Music and the Politics of the Aesthetic. Horowitz has copies of letters written to Haim Moshe by Syrian fans, sent via Europe.

The world music group 3 Mustaphas 3 covered "Linda Linda" in 1988. (You can find it on their Friends, Fiends & Fronds album.) Here they are performing it live:

"Leftist" campaign against the kufiya in Germany (the Anti-Germans)

I was recently informed of a 'left' tendency in Germany, known as the Anti-Germans (Antideutsch) that is motivated, in part, by a very radical critique of German anti-Semitism, and whose expression includes strong support for Israel.

An important element of that tendency is a struggle against the kufiya, known in Germany as the Palituch (short for Palästinensertuch) or Palestinian scarf, and widely worn by German lefties, as well as Middle Easterners. (My first recollection of this phenomenon is when I saw the 1978 documentary Germany in Autumn (Deuschland Im Herbst) by Werner Fassbinder, Alexander Kluge, Edgar Reitz, and Volker Schlöndorff. It concerns the terrorist events involving the Red Army Faction (RAF) and the PFLP, and ends with scenes of the funeral for the three RAF members, Ingrid Schubert, Gudrun Esslin, and Jean-Carl Raspe, who committed suicide in prison in October 1977. I remember very vividly the fact that several in the crowd of German far-leftists were wearing kufiyas. You can see a few clearly at 1:43:59, if you check out the film (no English subtitles) posted on YouTube. (I don't mean to suggest that the RAF is representative of the German left, but rather that this was my first visual experience of the phenomenon.)

The Anti-Germans launched a campaign against the kufiya over ten years ago, and their chief claim is that the leader of the Palestinian national movement during the Mandate period, the Grand Mufti Hajj Amin al-Hussayni, was responsible for making the kufiya a Palestinian national symbol, when he ordered all Palestinian men to put on the kufiya during the 1936-39 revolt. In fact, as I discuss in my book, the order came from the rebel command, not from Hajj Amin. The Anti-Germans then go on to raise the issue of the Mufti's support for Nazism and implication in the Holocaust. Leaving for the moment the question of the exact nature of the Mufti's involvement in Hitler's atrocities against the Jews, the move that the Anti-Germans make here is entirely coherent with longstanding mainstream Israeli propaganda against Hajj Amin, which recalls him simply as a collaborator with the Nazis and thereby metonymically associates the entire Palestinian people with Nazi anti-Semitic crimes against humanity. By implication, anyone who puts on a kufiya in solidarity with Palestinians is lending support to anti-Semitism. The Anti-Germans have devoted a webpage to their campaign against the kufiya, which you can view here. Note that they claim as well that putting on the kufiya also shows some kind of affinity with al-Qaida.

The Anti-German campaign against the kufiya has gone so far as to provide justification to a Berlin club called ://about blank to deny entry to anyone wearing a kufiya. The pretext is that the club tries to avoid the promotion of any national symbol in the club, but as critics of the ban have noted, it seems to be applied most stringently to kufiyas. You can read more about the policy of ://about blank and the protests against its policy here, in a 2013 article by John Riceburg in Exberliner, entitled, "Do cool kids wear a Palituch?"

Manchester artist Hannah Blank, now resident of Berlin, refused to perform at ://about blank due to their policy, and issued a very fine statement about her reasons for boycotting. Below are a couple exemplary bits:

In keeping with the essentially white-supremacist modern desire for the “multicultural” homogenization of peoples (always according to the baseline of dominant whiteness), About Blank has banned tokens of cultural or national specificity. In practice, this just means that people are not allowed to enter wearing the keffiyeh. The argument is that it has become symbolic not only of the Palestinian liberation struggle but also of neo-Nazi anti-semitism. The problematic conflation of these two symbolic meanings of the keffiyeh also ignores that it is also a garment of predominantly Arab origin and use. The origin of anti-semitism is not Arab but European. Forcing an Arab garment, sometimes associated with Palestinian liberation, to stand in for contemporary anti-semitism suggests a strange dissociation on the part of white Germans. Is anti-semitism a problem of Palestinian liberation, or, rather, is the colonization of Palestine a problem partly created by European anti-semitism?...

This small matter of a scarf is worth dwelling on because it evokes the way that white Europe, despite centuries of astonishing innovations in violence, somehow manages to perceive itself as the ethical and temporal metric of history. This habit blunts analysis and licenses bigotry. Despite the best efforts of your governments, you have no automatic right to legislate the meaning or disposition of non-white lives and cultures.


Friday, January 08, 2016

Toukadime Radio broadcast #28 (and I love in particular, Houria Habib & Tazi)

It's always a good day when Toukadime decide to put out another broadcast, and they've just put out #28. As always, a number of very fine tunes. I was impressed by the look of the track by Tazi ("404 Kahla"), which they posted with the broadcast.

It is a wonderful track, and you can also check it out here, on YouTube. Tazi Boukhari himself  posted it to YouTube, and he includes this information in the comments:

The song is written by Tazi, the music's by Blaoui Houari. Released in Lyon, France in 1972. The song deals with the French police and their dealings with the youth of the Place du Pont quarter in Lyon, in 1969. (If someone has more information on this, please post a comment.)

But my absolute favorite track from this broadcast was "Touil Elkelma" from Houria Wahab. It is not posted on YouTube, but you can purchase 4 other tracks by Houria on Amazon or eMusic, although I'm not sure any of these are quite as great as "Touil Elkelma."


Thursday, January 07, 2016

Listen to Radiooooo...and Ahmed Malek

I follow Grey Filastine on Facebook, and he turned me onto this amazing website, It works like this: you see a map of the globe, you click on a country, you choose a decade, and it starts spinning tunes.

There is much more to explore, but I, typically, went to Algeria, 1970s, and came up with a track by Ahmed Malek, called "Autopsie d'un complot." Check it out:

The track is from an album of film music composed by Ahmed Malek called Musique Originale de Films, and the track is from a 1978 film, Autopsie d'un complot, from the Algerian director Mohamed Slim Riad. You can check out a bit of the film here.

And I learned from reading about the album on that Ahmed Malek also did the soundtrack for one of my favorite Algerian films of all time, Merzak Allaouche's Omar Gatlato. Here's a bit of that soundtrack. And if you hunt on YouTube, you can find more of Ahmed Malek's work. But I particularly liked "Autopsie."

All that from just a few short minutes listening to There's much much more to explore!

Tuesday, January 05, 2016

Best Arabic Songs of 2015, as picked by Nitzan Engelberg & Yaniv Jurkevitch -- and including a great track by Jowan Safadi

As found on Mixcloud, courtesy Columbus Music Magazine, an Israeli outfit that seems to live exclusively on Mixcloud. I've no idea who the pair are that chose the songs, except that they are Israeli. And based on the choices they've made, we can presume that (a) they listen to a lot of Arab music (b) they have quite good taste and (c) they are not afraid of progressive political music.

Most of the tracks are what one might call "alternative" Arab music, with roots in rock, but there is also some hip-hop. "Arabic" for Engelberg and Jurkevitch seems to mean "Eastern" or "Mashreqi," as there are no tracks from any Arab country east of Egypt. Nonetheless it's a quite good set, and it introduced me to a lot of material I did not know. Of the artists I am familiar with, there are quite good tracks from Mashrou' Leila (Lebanon), Ramy Essam (Egypt, though now based in Sweden), Maryam Saleh & Zeid Hamdan (Egypt/Lebanon), DAM (Palestinian citizens of Israel), Zeid and the Wings (Lebanon), Massar Egbari (Egypt), and Youssra El Hawary & Salam Yousry (Egypt).

I was most impressed by the track by Jowan Safadi, called "To Be An Arab." It surprised me when I listened for the first time, because the vocals are in Hebrew, not Arabic, and the song is not rock or rap but sounds very much like standard Israeli Mizrahi pop. (There is, however, a spoken bit in Arabic.) I did a bit of googling and learned from an article on Mondoweiss that Safadi is a Palestinian citizen of Israel (don't you dare call someone like him an "Israeli Arab"), and that the lyrics are quite amazing. The YouTube video (below) is terrific, and it is aimed at/addressed to Israeli Jews of Arab heritage, known in Israel as Mizrahim (or alternatively, to use an earlier terminology, Sephardim). The video provides a translation of the Hebrew (and Arabic) into English, which Mondoweiss has helpfully transcribed. Here's a few sample lines. I urge you to watch the vid and read the article.

Hardcore homophobes 
Are the most gay on the inside 
Mizrachi Arabophobes 
Are Arabs themselves 
Who are just afraid 
And prefer to stay in the closet 
Because they know, they know the best 
That to be an Arab is not that great 

Interesting, no, to compare Mizrahis who hate Arabs to homophobes?

The song represents a quite remarkable reaching out, on the part of a Palestinian Arab citizen of Israel, to the Mizrahi Jewish minority, who are of Arab heritage. When it comes to a one-on-one "talk," the address is in Arabic, presuming the ability of the Mizrahi addressee to understand the language of heritage -- which in fact many young Mizrahim would not. It expresses a great deal of sympathy for the Mizrahi position, but ends on a tough note: dude, you are in Palestine.

Hey you imported Arab
Take it from a local Arab

You were dragged here

To take my place

It’s hard to be an Arab

It’s really hard, ask me

It’s hard to be an Arab

How much can one be black

Under the rule of the rich and white

In the land of Palestine
Hey you imported Arab,
Take it from a local Arab
You were dragged here
To take my place
It’s hard to be an Arab
It’s really hard, ask me
It’s hard to be an Arab
How much can one be black
Under the rule of the rich and white
In the land of Palestine
- See more at:
Hardcore homophobes Are the most gay on the inside Mizrachi Arabophobes Are Arabs themselves Who are just afraid And prefer to stay in the closet Because they know, they know the best That to be an Arab is not that great - See more at:
Hardcore homophobes Are the most gay on the inside Mizrachi Arabophobes Are Arabs themselves Who are just afraid And prefer to stay in the closet Because they know, they know the best That to be an Arab is not that great - See more at:

Monday, January 04, 2016

Neta Elkayam and Maurice El Medioni do Line Monty's "Ana Loulia"

A YouTube video published on December 31, 2015, featuring Maurice El Medioni on keyboards and vocals, and Neta Elkayam handling the vocals, beautifully. The two of them will be featured in concert at the Havana Music Club in Tel Aviv on January 13, in a "Latino-Algerian" show. Wish I could be there. 

I've mentioned both of these artists in earlier posts, but briefly: Maurice El Medioni is the renowned Algerian-Jewish pianist from Oran (Wahran), Algeria, who has performed with many artists, and also as a solo artists, in the course of a career that was launched in the 1940s. He had a stroke back in late 2012 or 2013, which is the main reason he relocated to Israel from Marseille, but he seems to still be going strong, and ilhamdulillah. Neta Elkayam is a young Moroccan-Israeli singer based in Jerusalem, who is one of the foremost Mizrahi artists keeping alive the flame of Jewish Arab Maghrebi culture. 

Here is Line Monty's version of "Ana Loulia," accompanied on this recording by, I believe, Maurice El Medioni. (And here is a more recent version by Line.) I'm not sure when this great Jewish Algerian singer recorded the song. You can read more about her here, on the French wikipedia.