A group of Palestinian artists played music and sung chants showing the link between music and the Palestinian heritage as part of the fourth online panel of Return Week III, kick-started by the Palestinian Return Centre (PRC) in London on Monday, December 05th.
The panel was chaired by Amer Zahr, a Palestinian Arab American comedian, speaker, writer, academic, and adjunct professor at University of Detroit Mercy School of Law. He draws on his experiences growing up as a child of Palestinian refugees, performing and lecturing on topics like politics, society, culture, identity, Palestine, Islam, and more.
“As Palestinian refugees we excel everywhere in the world; We are the most successful ethnically-cleansed people in the world; We’ve kept our stories, narratives, and culture alive and that’s why we’re here today”, said Amer.
“We’ll keep fighting for our right of return that’s something no organization can take away from us; it’s not a bargaining chip; That’s a right that no government can take away from us; It is something which keeps us deeply connected, deeply rooted in our homeland”, he confirmed.
For the detailed program click here
The first performer was Maysa Daw, a Palestinian actress & musician from Haifa, in occupied Palestine. Writing her debut album as part of a university project, Maysa released her album Between City Walls in June 2017. Daw’s musical style is very much driven by her signature guitar driven, indie style and touches on issues that are close to her heart, including, equality, politics, a want for freedom and love under occupation.
Maysa also draws inspiration from her Arab heritage as she features samples of classic Arabic songs in conjunction with sounds of the Spanish guitar, radio static and live voice recordings from the West Bank, all prevalent in her album which is helping to make Maysa Daw much talked about.
“We document what we feel, how we live, and the way we think through music”, said Maysa.
Maysa’s songs are a reflection of how she views the world and as a Palestinian living inside Israel’s pre-1967 borders, her view of what’s around her can often be one of conflict. Mostly personal, her work can also convey political themes, for example, her song “Come With Me” is about two people in love being kept apart by a wall. In another song, entitled “Radio”, are the recorded voices of refugees living in the West Bank, talking about the separation wall, how they want to demolish it and it has impacted their lives.
The next performer was Bashar Murad, a Palestinian singer-songwriter and video artist based in East Jerusalem. His music addresses societal norms, the Israeli Occupation, and gender equality in the Middle East. He is most commonly known for his collaboration with Icelandic techno-punk band Hatari on the song "Klefi / Samed (صامد)", which was shortly released after Hatari raised the Palestinian flag at the grand finale of Eurovision 2019 in Tel Aviv, Israel. Murad released his debut EP "Maskhara" in June 2021.
The final performer was Izraa, a Palestinian Musician currently based in Vienna, Austria. She is a singer-songwriter, rapper, voice actress and activist with roots in Palestine, Lebanon and Tunisia. She developed her musical interest at a young age. She graduated in Media Communication with specialization in Film/Digital Production and plans to start her Master in the near future. She is the winner of the FM4 protest song contest 2022 with her anti-racism song " 9. November". Her activism and artistic work deal with identity search, anti-racism, empowerment and the question of belonging. Music has always been a part of their identity search and empowerment.
IZRAA said: "There is nothing more powerful than being understood and heard by people, because music is the language of the soul and we all speak it."
She said music is among the key elements of her life that connect her to her language, heritage, and Palestinian culture.
Download the Return Week’s brochure here
This year’s Return Week is exceptional in form and content as it is loaded with positive implications for the Palestinians and their supporters.
With more than 26 speakers of researchers, thinkers and activists supporting the Palestinian right from the UK, Europe, the United States, South Africa and Palestine, this year’s version of the Return Week sends a message to the entire world that the Palestinians will never ever forfeit their inalienable rights, particularly their right to return to their motherland and establish an independent Palestinian State on the 1967 borders.
Until this dream comes true, the longest and most legitimate struggle in the world shall not come to an end.
Watch the full event here