At protest concert, ‘NYT’ music critic singles out Palestinian’s message as ‘divisive’

on 6 Comments

NYT rock-dude Jon Pareles reviewed a night of rappers from the Arab Spring at the Brooklyn Academy of Music last week. And isn’t it great to see the Arab Spring as a source for liberation energy around the world–yes? And Pareles is open to this, god bless him. Notice the uplifting voice:

A lineup of Tunisian, Egyptian, Malian and (London-born) Palestinian rappers, including activists from the Arab Spring, brought songs of protest and self-determination. The concert, which including the United States debuts of El Général from Tunisia and Deeb from Egypt, celebrated a courageous new forthrightness from Middle Eastern rappers. It also showed the pervasiveness of hip-hop, and how it works differently as a catalyst wherever it arrives….

But the idea of hip-hop as a voice of the poor and disenfranchised has traveled globally to places where songs can still be rallying cries.

Uh-oh– then Palestinian Shadia Mansour took the stage:

Ms. Mansour was backed by DJ Johnny Juice, who helped create Public Enemy’s sound, in raps that were scrappy, vehement and polemical. Her lyrics flare with anger at the Palestinian situation. One song rewrote a nursery rhyme to praise resistance: “They all have tanks, but we have stones/They demolish our homes and kill our children,” she declared. “Oh Palestine the free, oh Gaza the brave/Zionism shall be defeated.”

Amkoullel [from Mali] had far less divisive messages, in songs that called for an end to corruption, better public education, more positive images of Africa.

Divisive? To decry oppression and imagine freedom for 4-5 million people with no rights? And in a newspaper where a Jewish professor of philosophy states that we have to question the right of a Jewish state to exist? I’m sure Pareles is anxious about this, so he lands on the safe chair. But what can you say about this? I admit I am spouting profanities at my desk. Thanks to Max Blumenthal.

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6 Responses

  1. edwardm
    March 13, 2013, 2:49 pm

    Fancy that – RAP being confrontational! LMFAO.
    I guess Public Enemy should have been mildly conciliatory etc….

    I recommend –

  2. pabelmont
    March 13, 2013, 3:02 pm

    Yes, “divisive” within the USA and especially within the generally pro-Israel NY scene — meant to nail Israel and perhaps address USA complicity, whereas other Arab Spring songs could limit themselves to criticizing their own governments (ignoring the USA’s friends and interventions).

    Now if reviewer Pareles had said “energetic” instead of “divisive” and had said that it nailed Israel’s human-rights violations, well, then HE would have [1] been divisive and [2] learned which side of his toast was buttered.

  3. Ecru
    March 13, 2013, 5:27 pm

    I have to wonder if this reviewer would have written “(New York born) Israeli” had a rapper been from that background. Somehow I doubt it.

    As to comparing the lyrics of a Palestinian and a Malian performer, in case this moron missed it Mali hasn’t been under brutal occupation for the past 60 odd years. Might make a bit of a difference that.

  4. kayq
    March 13, 2013, 8:05 pm

    Wowow. “Divisive” Sorry for speaking or moreso rapping / singing the truth!

    NY Times is always full of pro-Israel bullshit.

  5. Inanna
    March 13, 2013, 11:02 pm

    She’s only divisive because one group has chosen to brutalize another and the brutalizers receive financial and emotional support from all over the world, including the people you are pandering to Mr Pareles.

    It seems to me that you also forget just how ‘divisive’ rap has been historically. You reference Public Enemy – I suggest you go listen to the lyrics again and come back to me with just how ‘divisive’ this is in comparison. You remember how to do compare and contrast from school, don’t you?

  6. just
    March 14, 2013, 3:31 pm

    Thanks Phil and Max, for exposing the terrible status quo.

    Divisive? Perhaps Jon needs to spend some quality time in Gaza.

    Thanks to Shadia Mansour and her wonderful lyrics, as well.

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