Concert interrupted by PA police over song critical of UN statehood bid

At the Palestinian New Year’s festival at Arafat Square in Ramallah, musician Basel Zayed and his group Turab were prevented from completing their music concert by the Palestinian police because the group sang “El-Doleh” ; a satirical song about the Palestinian promised state. The police issued a statement (quoted in Arabic in al-Ayyam newspaper) regarding preventing Basel Zayed’s group from continuing their concert, the statement says that the police reacted in order to maintain security because the song has provoked the feelings of the audience. Basel Zayed has strictly denied that his song has provoked anyone’s feelings; rather he said that the audience were happy and large crowds were enjoying the concert.

Basel Zayed’s group, along with many other Palestinian artists, musicians, and dance troupes, were part of the Palestinian public New Year’s festival held in Ramallah. This festival was entirely organized on a short notice by Palestinian youth as a response to some New Year’s parties hosting Israeli singers and performers in Ramallah. This first-of-a-kind event was a success and has attracted many Palestinians who came to celebrate, dance, enjoy the music, reject normalization, and confirm their commitment to maintain the struggle for their full rights as Palestinians.

I have known Basel Zayed since I was 6 years old; he was my music teacher in elementary school and was my musical mentor when I used to play the Clarinet in oriental music groups at the Edward Said National Conservatory of Music. After yesterday’s event, I got in touch with Basel to ask him for more details of why the police have interrupted his concert. Basel said that he believes the police initially reacted this way because they misunderstood the song to be against the police and the government, but he continued saying “but in fact, the song is really saying that we want a country with a strong police and army, not just figures who have no power and no real authority.”

Refuting the official statement issued by the police, Basel said that audience were happy and unprovoked at all by his song, he is used to sing this song at many concerts and no one has ever had any issue with it.

The song “Doleh”, as Basel puts it, is a sarcastic commentary about the state promised for the Palestinian people. It is also a message to the Palestinian leadership and the world that Palestinians don’t want half states and half solutions anymore. He continues to say that the song also raises the issues of freedom of speech and questions the kind of a state that is being negotiated on the Palestinians’ behalf by people who do not officially represent the Palestinian people.

It is an issue of an artist’s right of freedom of expression. Basel wants to challenge people to look critically at oppression and injustice, not only from the occupation but from their own society and government as well. He hopes that the police who have taken this action would reconsider what they have done and listen to what the song really says.

Palestinian artist Hafez Omar has created the following artworks protesting the authorities’ attempt to silence artists.





ok .. let's be realistic...
most of the people living in this city support the PA's decision to obtain a recognition of a state via the UN. it is unethical for a person to play a song that mocks the PA and its initiative for people who support the PA and its initiative, even if it's kind of stupid. And, you can't call it a concert, you did not cite the police's report, you don't have a visual proof of what the police did. So, you figure it out

Jalal Abukhater's picture

Sadeeki Hamoudeh,

The statement was issued last night by Police Chief Yousef Ezrin, director of public affairs and media.

تم منع الفنان باسل زايد في حفل ”رأس السنة على الطريقة الفلسطينية“ من إكمال أغنية ”بكرا إعلان الدولة“ بقرار أمني .. العميد يوسف عزرين، مدير ادارة العلاقات العامة والاعلام في الشرطة، عقب على الأمر بالقول في تصريحات يفترض أن تنشر في “الأيام” غداً: منظمو الحفل حصلوا على ترخيص بالحفل وفق الأصول، لكن ما حصل أن الفنان باسل زايد، استفز كثير من المواطنين بفحوى كلمات الأغنية التي غناها في بداية فقرته الفنية، وفق ما أكد لنا عناصر من الشرطة والأجهزة الأمنية في المكان، وهو ما أثار حالة من التذمر واللغط، دفع بعناصر الشرطة والأجهزة الأمنية إلى الطلب من القائمين على الحفل بوقف الأغنية، حفاظاً على سلامة الفنان زايد، وللحيلولة دون أي اعتداء كان محتملاً ممن استفزتهم كلمات الأغنية.

What I say up there is Basel’s own account, and I believe he knows better than you do since you weren’t even there at the event.



Although I do not agree with your statement, I believe you have every right to say it and you can criticize Basel Zayed for playing that song. And when the police come knocking on YOUR door and want to silence you because you are saying something they don't agree with, I and Basel Zayed will stand up for you and your right to speak freely and express your opinion. THAT'S what this is all about.


Mohammed says its unethical to play a song because its critical of the PA?! For God's sake man - the ethics of playing songs is not what you should worry about - the ethics of a proto-state that shuts down free speech while collaborating with the occupier is what you should be worried about!!


Mohammad hammoudeh, is non-PA political activity allowed in ramallah? No it isent so to claim most people there support this silly un bid is wrong as only those who support it are allowed to show their feelings. The PA is an extension of the arab dictator kings and rulers, they censor everything that is against them but dont mind cillaborating with the zionist army and meeting with zionist leaders hugging them even though they threw phosphor bombs on our children. With all my respect to you dear brother.

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.