We at Creative Community For Peace (CCFP) have long admired the ability of art and music to bring people together. Art is our shared human language which can allow us to rise up above that which divides us in order to see what unites us on a deeper level. It lets us glimpse the world from different points of view, gain new perspectives, and wrestle with challenging ideas.
When it falls into the wrong hands, however, art can be misused to do the exact opposite; to divide people and perpetuate conflict, to push one ideology at the exclusion of all others and stamp out dissenting points of view.
Unfortunately, this is what we’re seeing from some Palestinian artists. A number of popular songs created by Palestinian musicians — and promoted widely by both Palestinian governments, the Palestinian Authority and Hamas — have been designed to incite violence against Israelis, widening the divide between the two peoples to the detriment of all in the region.
For example, in November of 2017, the official Palestinian Authority television channel broadcast a song which includes the lyrics, “Jerusalem is ours, and we are marching, and we will bring millions of martyrs,” as well as “[We] are soldiers until we break the Jews.”
Earlier in the year, a music video shown on Awdah TV, a station run by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah movement, included videos of violent protests and stabbing attacks, with lyrics encouraging Palestinians to become martyrs for Jerusalem by attacking Israelis.
During the uptick in violence in late 2015 and early 2016, known as the “knife intifada” or the “stabbing intifada,” songs that glorified stabbing attacks against Israelis were all the rage on the Palestinian street. The Times of Israel noted that anybody who spent time in Palestinian cities was sure to hear a song called “Lovers of Stabbing,” by a Palestinian band from Gaza, blaring from cars, stores, and restaurants.
According to the Palestinian Maan News, this song encouraged “Jerusalemites and revolutionaries in the West Bank to carry out stabbing operations and to kill settlers,” and these violent songs inspired young Palestinians to follow in the footsteps of the terrorists the songs glorify.
It’s truly disheartening to see artists — who have such a unique and powerful ability to promote unity — use their voices to incite violence and tear people apart.
We at CCFP don’t have a solution to this problem, but the first step is surely recognizing that there is one. We call on all artists — Israelis, Palestinians, and those from all over the world — to raise their voices against hate, and instead cry out for peace.