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NYT discovers Mohammed Assaf: ‘the most remarkable concert I’ve ever seen’

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Less than a month after Mondoweiss reported Mohammed Assaf had invaded the US the New York Times reports he’s “trying to conquer North America“! Can you feel the earth shaking? Times journo Lindsay Crouse’s exposé on Assaf (Reem Makhoul contributing), while months late, is exploding across social media and the wows just keep on coming.

It’s a fabulous article, and since it’s a first for the publication the article provides a healthy dose of background on Assaf’s meteoric rise to fame and points along the way others have been documenting over the last year including political aspects and Netanyahu’s  “Incitement and peace cannot coexist” conniption.  She hits all the right cords, includes quotes from Assaf (“I came out of a womb into suffering…’s my duty to talk about this. I want to tell the whole world about the pain we’ve experienced.”), which is important for NYT readers who live under rocks (we simply have to grasp the reality some people have not have even heard of Mohammed Assaf before….shocking but nonetheless true), so naturally, we recommend the article for many reasons.

But the best has yet to come. Soon after publication Crouse took to her twitter feed to spill the beans on how she really felt, and here’s where it gets fun. In conversation with Huffington Post’s heartthrob Ahmed Shihab-Eldin:

The most remarkable concert she’s ever seen! This is why Mohammed Assaf is a global superstar, he’s contagious. You can’t be present without being drawn into a sphere of love for Palestine and the experience of joy and exaltation that surrounds him. He electrifies:

We’re still pinching ourselves. There was a time we looked into the future and fantasized if he would ever visit America, that we hoped and dreamed this infectious feeling we shared would spread. But little did we know or quite expect this, that it would happen so fast, that he would be here and this explosion we knew in our hearts was real, would materialize so fast. And there’s something about being recognized, finally.

It’s an immense sense of pride; (Enass says) Proud. So so proud. And a sense of wonder that a Palestinian can cause such reaction. For me I got used to the typical reactions. Either positive or negative. But with Assaf, this is uncharted water. I still can’t believe it. As Fares Farhan states in the NYT video “he can bring a voice to the people back home, he is a young star and he has the potential for our kids and future generation back home.”

And also just a sense of vindication, that we got it right from the beginning. That there’s an aliveness, an openness, people are waking up and listening, the time is right and Palestine is rising. Naturally everyone wants in on the action; Rosemary Davis, British Government Regional Arabic spokesperson for North Africa and the Middle East tweets:


And you can bet MBC knows they got themselves a winner:

He’s arrived, that’s all there is to it. And it’s a sign, a sign of things to come. We can feel it.

Mohammed Assaf (in the NYT video above):

A song is a message, stronger than the sound of artillery shells or bullets and even stronger than the voice of politicians.

(Previous Mohammed Assaf coverage on Mondoweiss available here)

Annie Robbins

Annie Robbins is Editor at Large for Mondoweiss, a human rights activist and a ceramic artist. She lives in the SF bay area. Follow her on Twitter @anniefofani

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6 Responses

  1. just on December 19, 2013, 8:15 pm

    I am weeping with joy for this man and his People– proud, steadfast, resilient and enormously talented.

    Thank you Annie and Enass for bringing him to MW. It means everything– so much hope, recognition of the dastardly deeds that have never nor will ever vanquish these good humans who have endured so much and survived with their souls and their rectitude. It’s past time for the world to listen– what songs and poetry they tell their story with………..nobody with a soul can resist the truth when spoken in the universal language of an artist so talented and genuine. A genius. An inspiration. With his voice and his story and his demeanor, here is a Gandhi.

    I have to pinch myself, too. His voice is the voice of a people too long denied– he takes center stage and opens the door for the many others. Blessings to him, his family and his countrymen/women/children.

    Good for Crouse– may her wonder and joy continue.

  2. ritzl on December 20, 2013, 1:11 am

    Sweet. So hopeful.

  3. Walid on December 20, 2013, 2:42 am

    Thanks, Annie and Enass.

  4. Citizen on December 20, 2013, 7:49 am

    Last August Bibi Netanyahu wrote a letter to Kerry complaining about Palestinian incitement against peace, e.g., in their kids’ school books. He included a video clip of Mr Assaf, singing I guess.

    BTW, I don’t know anybody personally that has yet heard of Mr. Assaf.

  5. Enass T on December 20, 2013, 10:49 am

    It was all you!
    My love for Assaf would have been kept in my circle of Arab friends, it was you who allowed my joy and fascination and story to be shared with so many wonderful friends and people.
    He is the voice of Palestine, and you predicted correctly what is happening now…..Thank you :)

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