‘Oh Jerusalem my tears are scattered,’ Mohammed Assaf sings in occupied Bethlehem

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Mohammed Assaf performed Ya Tir Ya Tair/ Oh you bird going home to a packed audience in Bethlehem on Thursday night. It’s the hugely popular national song that qualified him for the Arab Idol competition and has “struck a chord with Palestinians and Arabs everywhere.”

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Mohammed Assaf at the Church of Nativity
Bethlehem, Palestine (photo: Facebook)

Just in case anyone thinks this obsession with Mohammed Assaf is some kind of passing phase, it isn’t. The concert was not only about patriotism and Palestine, it was about classical Arabic songs, and oldies from around the Arab world. Assaf is  introducing a younger generation who grew up on flossy pop music, to great music. And there is a thirst for this music. His performance is magical, hypnotic and spellbinding. We have no other words for it.

This performance is a must view/listen. The song Ya Tir Ya Tair is actually longer than the version he sang in Arab Idol and here he is singing the full version, then singing other songs, it’s a medley of patriotic songs. But it begins with the same lyrics we posted in our original coverage:

Oh you bird going home
My eyes will watch over you and May God protect you

Oh you traveler, you make me jealous
Palestine is my beautiful country

Go to Safad and Tiberias
Send my love to Acre and Haifa

Don’t forget the Arab Castle, Nazareth
Tell Bissan, its people are coming back


Oh Jerusalem, my tears are scattered
My people is, around the world, scattered

History is proud of us,
for my people have beared a lot

(end of Mawwal)

Pass to Gaza, kiss its sands
Its people are brave and its men are strong

Jerusalem, the capital, and Al Aqsa its center
May Allah unite us with its land.

Here are more lyrics which the chorus is singing backing him at 6:56:

Palestine My mother…my soul
Palestine enough of my wounds
Palestine you will not be humiliated .. you will not be degraded
Palestine you are the balm for my wounds
Palestine for your sake we will fight
Palestine The free will come to your soil in convoys
your people called in the highest platforms
the Flags will be raised

then he transitions into another song..

Raise your flags, asmar with the keffeyeh your forehead is high…decorated with the Keffeyeh.

(Previous Mohammed Assaf reports on Mondoweiss available here)

(Rawan Yaghi contributed to this report)

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When Assaf at 2:48 says Come on come on, is that Arabic, or is he using an American idiom?

Thanks Enass, and thanks much for the post. I find this guy incredible. Such restraint, for such a young man.

To the Mondo team and especially Annie and Enass a huge SHUKRAN JAZEELAN to all of you for your continued coverage of Mohammad Assaf. You’re right about his impact on the Arab world and it makes me incredibly happy to know that non-Arabs are as affected as we are by… Read more »

Mohammed Assaf is a joyful Gandhi . I was in Bethlehem many years ago– it was not “occupied” then. Bless him, and Annie, Enass Tinah and Mondoweiss.