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Assaf’s victory teemed with references to Al Aqsa, martyrs, Palestine as the Arab mother– and ‘every free human’

Israel/Palestine
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Mohammed Assaf (photo:AFP)

The centrality of Palestine’s place in the hearts of everyone throughout the Arab world was a manifest theme throughout the final episode of Arab Idol. After Mohammed Assaf gave his acceptance speech (full transation below) the presenter congratulated Assaf and announced the Lebanese star Assi Hillani wanted to give Mohammed the trophy personally. Listen to his words “Palestine is the mother of the Arab world”:

(10:36)

Congratulations Mohammed, you deserve it, and congratulation for Palestine, but I also want to add congratulations for the Arab world, because Palestine is the mother of the Arab world, congratulations to all Arabs, because Mohammed is an Arab artist, not just Palestinian. I salute all the contestants.

And check out the incredible lyrics in Mohammed Assaf’s ‘winner’s song‘, his last performance on Arab Idol. Immediately prior to Assaf being declared the winner, the announcer stated (1:35) all three contestants had practiced the ‘winner’s song’ , but that “only one of you will sing the song that was written by [Lebanese] poet Nizar Francis.” Here’s the song with Francis’s lyrics, music by Issam Kamal:

Oh, world witness me…I never bowed to the aggressor

People of the Dad ( dad ض is the only unique Arabic letter, you don’t find a similar letter in any language, so there is a term language of the Dad or people of the Dad meaning Arabic or Arabs)

You should unite through your pain

People of the Dad … you should unite through your pain

Hardships are plenty…and we never meet

O Arabs..wake up..and Arabism.. be renewed

Oh , world witness me…I never bowed to the aggressor

Palestine..my mother… you who live in my blood

Palestine..my mother… you who live in my blood

If I miss my people…your bosom enfolds me

It’s written by the Free…fire needs fire

It’s written by the Free…fire needs fire

The Dar ( home, homeland) is our Dar…and say it with a loud voice

and Arabism.. be renewed

Oh , world witness me…I never bowed to the aggressor

People of the Dad…you should unite through your pain

I sang you with my voice with my silence and quietness

I sang you with my voice with my silence and quietness

My life is for you, my death is cheap for you

Oh wounded Aqsa ( the mosque)…you are never away from my mind

OH wounded Aqsa ( the mosque)…you are never away from my mind

As Long I am breathing…Jerusalem you are my destination

and Arabism.. be renewed

Oh , world witness me…I never bowed to the aggressor

People of the Dad…you should unite through your pain

Hardships are plenty…and we never meet

O Arabs..wake up..and Arabism.. be renewed

During his performances, the camera will pan at his mother, with her head scarf and traditional Palestinian dresses; she will always look moved by her son’s singing, saying sprayers, tears in her eyes, while his father will sit there stoic and silent. Mohammed Assaf will always look for her in the audience, smiling after he finishes one of his amazing performances as if to tell her to rejoice at his triumph. He carries his emotions on his sleeves, just like his mother, both from a beautiful emotional bond and they are not afraid to show it in public.

And when Assaf sings and talks about Palestine, he uses language that is tender and loving just like the one he uses when he talks about his mother. He talks about Palestine where it’s normal to sing and dance in the streets, where the will to resist oppression and fight injustice does not mean you can’t enjoy Dabkeh, Ataba and Mijana.

And finally, here is the complete translation of Mohammed Assaf’s acceptance speech: (8:04)

Mohammed Assaf: Please allow me to say something, let me salute all the people who voted for me, from the ocean to the gulf, let me thank my people the Palestinian people. The struggling amazing people, who have been suffering for more than 60 years from the occupation and is still suffering, I salute them every where, in Gaza, in the West Bank, in Ramallah, in the 1948, in the diaspora, in Lebanon, everywhere.

I dedicate this win to the Palestinian people, I dedicate it to the souls of the martyrs, martyrs of the Palestinian revolution, I dedicate it to every free human, I dedicate it to the prisoners, the wounded, to all Palestinians *( he pauses at 8:58 and shakes his head as if he can’t believe what is happening), and the Arab world.  Please believe me that from the first moment I came to the program, I never imagined for moment that I would reach the final, honestly, but this is all due to God’s good well, I thank you all, I have no words to thank you enough, I thank all the people who helped reach here. I thank the judges, Ragheb Alames, Nancy, Queen Ahlam, Hassan Shafie. I thank the program’s producer Mr Hussien Jaber, I thank Eli Al Alia ( the music director, he turns towards the band and puts his hand on his head, a gesture of deep deep gratitude at 9:48). I thank all the contestants, and I thank the Hajja( the one who performed hajj) ..

My mother, you are on my head yamma and yabba( Palestinian dialect of the middle classes for mom and dad) , May god keep you the crown of my head, without your prayers , I am not here…

For one night our mother Palestine sang with us, for love, for hope, for dreaming big, for jumping over fences, for success…she embraced us, and we cried from joy and happiness.

(Previous MW coverage about Mohammed Assaf here, here, here, here here, Mohammed Assaf IS Arab Idol!!! and here. )

Enass T
About Enass T

Enass Tinah is a Molecular Biologist from Ramallah, Palestine. She works with patients with genetic diseases. Tinah lived in the USA through the years of GWB, and came out more tolerant of idiocy than she should have. Twitter: @EnassT1

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28 Responses

  1. just
    just
    June 27, 2013, 11:36 am

    Enass & Annie thank you so very much. My heart is full of joy and wonder. I so respect Mohammed for his love for his mother, his father, his Palestine, the Arab people and God.

    Thank you, Mondoweiss.

  2. Cliff
    Cliff
    June 27, 2013, 12:13 pm

    Thank you MW for covering this story, while it gets practically nothing from the MSM.

    Mohammed is amazing and his speech was very moving.

    • annie
      annie
      June 27, 2013, 12:27 pm

      It’s truly an honor and privilege to have Enass’s contributions on Mondowiess, so i give thanks right along with you (just and cliff and anyone else who is grateful!). to read these lyrics and be able to publish them for non arabic speakers is ..i don’t have the words to describe it. and enass’s voice, we’re all so lucky.

      • Citizen
        Citizen
        June 27, 2013, 2:14 pm

        I too want to thank you, the Palestinians mentioned, of course their singer, and also the singular Annie Robbins–her work made me more fully realize the emotional justice part of just what is at stake here. Thank you Phil and Adam, for giving such inspiring voice via Annie’s input on your blog. I’m a really old guy; it’s hard for me to get inspired about anything. Remember the scene in Cabaret, at the outside rural beer hall, when the idealistic kids sings Tommorow Belong To me? And slowly he’s contagious, through all the age groups present? Well, I’m like that old guy in the Greek fisherman’s cap and bifocals, who never gets up to pledge allegiance, for I’ve seen it all, in his case, WW1, nearing WW2. By that I mean simply I am very cautious and cynical. And I’m just trying to suggest it’s really hard for me to raise hope, but I feel it. WW1 made WW2 made Cold War made Neocons Made current US allegiance to Israel–I don’t buy it. It should be opposite. The Arab Idol sings what it should be. That would honor all those who died in all those wars.

      • annie
        annie
        June 27, 2013, 5:24 pm

        citizen, that is very very sweet of you.

        and Enass wrote this incredible post, we’re so very lucky to have her here with us.

      • American
        American
        June 27, 2013, 5:58 pm

        @ Citizen

        Ditto. Very well expressed.

      • wondering jew
        wondering jew
        June 27, 2013, 10:54 pm

        Just one problem: In the scene Citizen cites “the idealistic kid” is in fact a Hitler youth and everyone who joins in is joining in on a song that can be taken many ways, but when sung by a Hitler youth, Tomorrow belongs to me, fatherland, fatherland, is toxic poisonous stuff. It should not be cited as an anodyne or an idealistic song, but Citizen is just taking advantage of you dopes. He knows that the song has been adopted by neo Nazis as their song and he is getting you to say Amen to his drivel, just for the fun of it.

  3. seafoid
    seafoid
    June 27, 2013, 1:52 pm

    “the camera will pan at his mother, with her head scarf and traditional Palestinian dresses; she will always look moved by her son’s singing, saying sprayers, tears in her eyes, while his father will sit there stoic and silent”

    As ANY mother would for her son in such a context. And in the West’s media we basically NEVER get to see people from poor countries portrayed so warmly, as the humans they actually are.

    Elf Mabrouk Umm Mohammed. Inti ahsan min kul al hasbara .

  4. Walid
    Walid
    June 27, 2013, 3:47 pm

    “Palestine is the mother of the Arab world”(Assi Hillany)

    Not really; from the way Palestine has been getting kicked around for the past 60 years, a more appropriate description would be “the orphan of the Arab world”. Talk is cheap. Hopefully Mohammed Assaf will succeed in waking up the Palestinians because no other Arabs are going to do anything about their sad situation.

    • justicewillprevail
      justicewillprevail
      June 27, 2013, 4:51 pm

      Maybe he’ll wake up the Israelis, but I doubt it, from their cosseted, subsidised theme park life. And who are you to tell other Arab populations how to view Palestine – oh yes, an immigrant who has learnt nothing about the history or the culture of the region. Yes, your talk is very cheap. Singing from the heart, and expressing the deep roots of Palestine is, on the other hand a moving and inspiring experience for all with open hearts and minds.

      • annie
        annie
        June 27, 2013, 5:26 pm

        let’s not fight about it!

      • justicewillprevail
        justicewillprevail
        June 27, 2013, 5:42 pm

        sorry!

      • Walid
        Walid
        June 28, 2013, 12:25 am

        “… And who are you to tell other Arab populations how to view Palestine – oh yes, an immigrant who has learnt nothing about the history or the culture of the region. ”

        Just another Arab that is part of the culture and history of the region with nephews and nieces that are half-Palestinian.

    • Enass T
      Enass T
      June 27, 2013, 5:25 pm

      On an emotional and visceral level, Palestine is the mother of all causes for almost all Arabs. It does not matter that most of them have their own loads of problems, all of us go back to the original tragedy.

      • annie
        annie
        June 27, 2013, 10:04 pm

        i love you enass. meeting you and sharing all this with you, and others here who have expressed themselves and feel all this like we do, it’s meant the world to me. sometimes doing what we do here day after day, although it can never be compared to living in it, it’s wearing …often. and the continued sumud of palestinians is always what keeps me going. for how can i get tired or ever think of giving up when i know millions of people have endured so much more than what i might feel. but this explosion of hope and joy. this fever…and warmth, it’s feels so good to share with people who feel it too so i don’t feel … i don’t know…crazy or something. it’s so real. and without you it wouldn’t have been the same for me. for us.

        a super huge shout out for your contributions here and your voice coming thru load and clear. and let’s toast to many more of your articles. incredible enass. this experience,this feeling, is what makes it all worth it for me. just joy.

      • ivri
        ivri
        June 28, 2013, 7:49 pm

        Annie, I am surprised to see that in your enthusiasm for the Palestinian cause, you let your common-sense guards go that low. Don`t you realize that it makes no sense at all, in fact even insulting to Arabs, to expect that a Syrian (and for the same matter and Iraqi or even an Egyptian) really think that what they are going through, a real human tragedy, is marginal compared to “the plight of the Palestinian” – the purported central issue of the Arab world. And what the Idol singer says is where there mind is. I am ready to bet my last penny that this is an absolute nonsense.

        Sorry for the cold water, but it is my firm belief that the promotion of this type of fantasies does a huge disservice primarily to Arabs – encourages them, from the safety of far away, to sink deeper and deeper, until there will be no hope at all. And all that already dwarfs anything that happened or may happen to Israel and the Palestinians.

      • annie
        annie
        June 28, 2013, 11:08 pm

        Don`t you realize that it makes no sense at all, in fact even insulting to Arabs, to expect that a Syrian (and for the same matter and Iraqi or even an Egyptian) really think that what they are going through, a real human tragedy, is marginal compared to “the plight of the Palestinian”

        where did anyone state this ‘marginal’ business you speak of?

        does a huge disservice primarily to Arabs – encourages them, from the safety of far away, to sink deeper and deeper,

        far away? you’re loosing me here.

        plus, poll after poll confirmed the people of the region(not their leaders) regard freeing palestine/ending conflict as a main issue.

      • ivri
        ivri
        June 29, 2013, 9:21 am

        “far away? you are losing me her”
        Sorry, it was not phrased well – I meant that YOU (and the site) are far away (in the US).
        “poll after poll….”
        I have not seen the polls but it is totally against my common sense that the Iraqis, Syrians, Sudanese, Libyans, Tunisians and the rest, given what they are going through NOW, really see things that way. It was perhaps so in the past when the Arab world was far more placid – but now? I can`t believe that.

      • Enass T
        Enass T
        June 30, 2013, 4:35 am

        let me answer you,
        I am Palestinian, I live in Ramallah, I travel extensively in the Arab world, and I had Egyptian activist tell me that in the core of their revolution is Palestine.

        It is the core cause of all Arabs, in Syria , the regime and the opposition are using the issue of Palestine as a mean of enforcing their positions.

        I have seen these polls, and Palestine was and still the central issue of Arabs. what we have seen in Arab Idol is just a small demonstration of this.

      • Walid
        Walid
        June 28, 2013, 12:58 am

        “all of us go back to the original tragedy”

        Enass, some of us have parents that played a part in this tragedy. If it would have been really the mother of all causes, it would not have deteriorated to this level. There’s a long black history under the rug.

    • Inanna
      Inanna
      June 27, 2013, 10:02 pm

      Palestine is the center for me as an Arab. Nizar Francis perfectly expressed where my heart is. There are many others like me out there too. Please don’t confuse our horrible rulers with how we feel as Arabs.

  5. kayq
    kayq
    June 27, 2013, 7:01 pm

    Thanks again for your brilliant coverage Annie and Enass.

  6. Inanna
    Inanna
    June 27, 2013, 10:05 pm

    Thank you Enass, for making Mohammad Assaf so accessible to non-Arabic speaking audiences. I want this young man to take the world by storm because he’s so incredibly talented and he expresses our Arabic and Palestinian heart so beautifully. This is something the world needs to know about us.

    • Enass T
      Enass T
      June 28, 2013, 2:11 am

      It is truly my pleasure. I told Annie that I thought Mohamed Assaf was a big phenomena, but even ,I underestimated the impact of his journey from the streets of Khan Younis refugee camp to the adoration of millions of Arabs across the Arab world.
      I am happy to share the details of this journey with you all, thank you for the opportunity.

      A friend of mine who lives in Jerusalem told me that she never imagined that a day will come and Palestinian singer will be her favorite singer. It sounds so simple and unimportant, but for us Palestinians, he is our new, youthful, bright, hopeful, amazing voice…..

      • Inanna
        Inanna
        June 28, 2013, 6:42 am

        You know, I’ve never watched any of these Idol-type shows before. But when a friend alerted me to his voice I was floored and amazed. I listened to him over and over again on youtube and kept pinching myself to ensure that this was real. And I am overjoyed that it is real.

        I’m sure there are more great artists in Palestine and I wonder how much the occupation, seige, and suffering in the refugee camps has robbed us of other great Palestinian talent in the past.

      • annie
        annie
        June 28, 2013, 11:19 pm

        I wonder how much the occupation, seige, and suffering in the refugee camps has robbed us of other great Palestinian talent in the past.

        i’ve thought of this often. you know, i couldn’t help think mohammad saba’aneh so many times these last few weeks. he’s got massive massive talent and he’s in jail. completely concocted charges which they held him for a long time just to try coming up w/seemingly anything. (alleged association w/allegedly unsavory people). he’ll be out on july 16th god willing. and it makes me wonder how many we never ever heard of who perished either in jail or graves, their lives and youth robbed from them.

        and that reminds me of something i read within the last few years about dna research in mexico..the conquering of mexico. they killed off all the males. colonialist always target the strong and talented males. anyway, rambling. i wrote a draft ‘targeting talent’. to lazy to find. inspired by the young award winning filmmaker shot in the face last spring. they rob the culture, it just means everyone has to rise to the occasion and be their full creative selves.

        if anyone can do it, palestinians can.

      • seafoid
        seafoid
        June 29, 2013, 12:47 am

        The Zionists have been pauperising the Palestinians since day 1 of the Nakba. Poor people don’t have as much space to think or organise. There are too many existential problems that crowd in.

        Denying people education is one of the main planks of the system. Anyone who goes abroad to study has difficulties with residency afterwards. It’s all designed around the same aim – breaking the will of the people.

        They don’t mind educated Palestinians who leave but they’ll do everything to make life a misery for those who stay. It’s pure colonialism.

        They’ll take out anyone with leadership qualities.
        Remember Ghassan Kanafani.

        But they’ll never win.

      • bintbiba
        bintbiba
        June 28, 2013, 6:42 am

        Heartfelt thanks, Enass, for your dedication. You and annie have taken us on a wonderful journey of discovery and pride. the “….Idol” brand was never my ‘cup of tea’. My family come from a different world of music. When talent and beauty shine through with the purity of soul and sincerity, one is truly subjugated.

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