“How can you raise your weapon at your brother?” asks a new song which aims to challange Israel’s attempts to recruit Palestinian citizens of the state to its occupation army.
Titled “Tell me, are you OK with yourself?” (The Electronic Intifada’s translation), the track was released last week by Ehna TV, an independent Palestinian media group inside present-day Israel.
The video for the track, which can be viewed at the top of this page, shows scenes of singer Mira Azar, wearing a traditional embroidered shawl, in what appears to be a destroyed Palestinian village, as well as archive footage of Israeli violence.
Some of those scenes include slain Jerusalem teenager Muhammad Abu Khudair’s funeral and Israeli bombing in Gaza and its bloody aftermath, as well as Palestinians fearlessly confronting heavily armed Israeli soldiers.
“Tell me, have you seen the pictures? Tell me, have you heard the news,” the song asks, referring to the terrible atrocities carried out by the military in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip.
“And still you want to serve?” the lyrics, written by Azar, implore.
The track is the latest cultural intervention pushing back against Israel’s attempts to divide and rule Palestinian citizens by fomenting sectarianism.
Israel’s renewed effort to enlist young Palestinian Christian citizens into its army was the subject of Project X, a short film featuring Omar star Samer Bisharat released earlier this year.
The Electronic Intifada reported earlier this week on denunciations of Nazareth priest Jibril Nadaf’s claims at the United Nations that Israel is the only country in the region where Christians are “not persecuted.”
“He represents no one but himself. The army he wants us to join is the same one shedding the blood of our innocent brothers and sisters — Palestinian blood just like ours,” Yara Salameh, a young Palestinian from the Galilee, told The Electronic Intifada.
Israel has groomed a handful of clergy and members of the Christian community like Nadaf to promote military service among Christians. Recruitment papers have recently been sent to Palestinian Christian youths.
Except for numerically small groups such as the Druze, Palestinian citizens of Israel, who comprise approximately 20 percent of the state’s population, are not required to perform army service.
Yet many state benefits are tied to army service, including employment.
Meanwhile, a growing number of Druze youths are refusing to serve in the army and the state is facing an organized campaign within the community against conscription.