Arab Idol winner sings to Palestinians about fighting Israel with guns: ‘Songs are like weapons’
By Paul Shindman, World Israel News
Mohammad Assaf, the singing star from Gaza who won the Arab Idol show, is using his platform as a United Nations “goodwill ambassador” to sing about the destruction of Israel, Hebrew weekly Makor Rishon reported Friday.
After winning the title in the 2013 season of the show that was broadcast across the Middle East, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) asked Assaf to become a UN goodwill ambassador. However, recordings of his performances revealed that he sings hymns to terrorists and calls on his fans to take up arms against Israel.
UNRWA has been widely criticized for its corruption and for perpetuating the Palestinian refugee issue. At the time he was asked to represent UNRWA, Assaf replied he was proud to be “an ambassador for young people, I feel a great responsibility towards them.”
However, the Center for Near East Policy Research, an Israeli watchdog group that recorded and translated his concerts to Palestinians, revealed the lyrics to Assaf’s songs are militaristic and get the crowds at concerts chanting about attacking Israel.
“Lift the keffiyeh, wave it, let the rifle applaud it and decorate it,” were the words in one song that urged Palestinians to “liberate” Israeli cities, singing: “Go to Safed, go to Tiberias, Acre and Haifa, and say hello to its sea, do not forget Nazareth, the Arab fortress and Al-Aqsa is its flag, Inshallah we will gather in it.”
At a performance in the Palestinian city of Rawabi in 2019, Assaf invited up on stage Latifa Abu Hamid, the mother of five Palestinian men who are serving jail terms for terrorist attacks that killed 20 Israelis.
“Let our dear mother be honored. Congratulations to her, her sons, the prisoners and all the prisoners,” Assaf said to the applause of the audience.
In an interview by the Jordanian TV channel Roya, Assaf said his songs were more ammunition in the “resistance” against Israel.
“Songs are like weapons. National songs have a role in preserving the revolution in the Palestinian people. They are an integral part of the struggle. Art is resistance,” Assaf said.
Despite his Gazan roots and public statements that “I keep my oath and my religion, you will find me on my land,” Assaf, now 31, moved to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates where earlier this year he married the 22-year-old daughter of a wealthy family.
Middle East expert Dr. Roni Shaked of the Truman Institute at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem says that Assaf has become the main singer in Palestinian culture whose songs promote terrorism to Palestinian youth.
“The song of the martyr, in which he describes how the martyr is taken for burial, and the great song of return to Safed, Haifa and Beit She’an, have become the anthem of the Palestinian refugees in the spirit of return and terrorism,” Shaked said.