The cancellation of Sharif Dorzi’s concert

I woke up this morning to read a distorted and misleading piece in The Washington Post, the headline reads: ”Palestinians block performance of Israeli Arab singer under pressure from boycott movement.”

This story is about Sharif Dorzi, an Israeli who had his concert canceled by anti-normalization activists in Ramallah. Sharif isn’t an “Israeli Arab”, he describes himself as Israeli first and foremost; that can be seen on his website where you can find nothing which relates to Arabic.

The author is trying so bad to falsify the reality by saying that Palestinians block an “Israeli Arab” singer just because he happens to be living inside Israel. This lie can be easily falsified when you know that the most famous Palestinian performers do indeed live inside what is now Israel. A few examples are: Basel Zayed, Rim Banna, the hip hop group DAM, Maysa Daw, Toot Ard, Le Trio Joubran, and many others. Those performers are proud Palestinians; they sing for Palestine and refuse to normalize with the Israeli government. The problem is not with Sharif being an “Israeli Arab”; the problem is with what he represents and what he introduces himself as.

The author of The Washington Post piece, who apparently doesn’t know what he is writing, says that the Israeli performer received threats from an activist group who is opposed to coexistence with Israel. Those false claims are even far worse than many pro-normalization pieces I’ve read in the past few weeks. There are no activist groups who are “opposed to coexistence with Israel”, yet there are “anti-normalization groups” who oppose to compliment Israel and whitewash the atrocities it commits. Also, the people who were behind canceling the performer’s concert worked as individuals, not as a group.

The manipulation of terms is a serious matter, but I didn’t expect anything better from this author. The author managed to also create another lie, he said that Sharif had to cancel because “of a threat to his life.” I have talked to some of the activists who contacted the police; the cancelation came from the Palestinian police because Palestinian youth said that they’ll demonstrate in front of the hall that was to host Sharif, if it did. The activists confirmed that there were no “threats” of any kind against anyone’s life. The cancelation came through the police.

Also, another important matter, there is no such thing as “Israeli Arab.” Palestinians who happen to hold an Israeli passport consider this a derogatory term. They prefer the term 1948 Palestinians, or 1948 Arabs — because they live in the part of historic Palestine that Israel was established on in 1948.

Palestinian youth in Ramallah considered Sharif Dorzi performing on New Year’s Eve with his Hebrew music to be a disgrace. Some activists even joked by saying “let us memorize Hatikva (the Israeli national anthem) so we can sing along.” Dorzi is known for never recognizing Palestine or his identity as an Arab on his website or in any of his concerts. He has performed for and entertained Israeli soldiers at their camps; he has a song called “Hayalim Hayalim,” which translates to “Soldiers, Soldiers,” a tribute to the Israeli border police.

Sharif Dorzi was NOT prevented from performing because he was an “Israeli Arab”, as the author and Sharif claim. Palestinians would not be honored to have a person like Dorzi entertain them on New Year’s Eve. The Palestinian New Year’s Eve festival proved to be what the majority of Palestinians want and enjoy — not an undignified concert where the performer might sing “Hayalim Hayalim” for an audience oppressed by those “Hayalim” every day.


Jalal Abukhater

Jalal Abukhater's picture

Jalal Abukhater is a Jerusalemite, he is a graduate MA(hons) International Relations and Politics from the University of Dundee, Scotland.