It’s post-Arab Idol season yet the fever that has gripped Palestine over the past few months is still making my head spin. The name on everybody’s lips is Mohammed Assaf, the humble 22-year-old singer from the Khan Younis refugee camp in the besieged Gaza Strip that pleaded with and bribed Hamas and Egyptian authorities into allowing him a chance at traveling to realize his dream and become crowned the second-ever Arab Idol.
Despite his victory and overwhelming support, Assaf’s journey has inspired many conflicting and often disappointing sentiments that show how readily the line between the individual and the national will be attacked. The view that accomplishments such as Assaf’s can only be appreciated or given any worth if held within the context of Palestinian liberation is at fault here.
The rife nationalist stance that gripped the ground throughout Assaf’s journey holds that Assaf is either worthy of support because of his dedication to Palestine by uniting the ground, or that he is an evil person because he “distracted” us from other more important issues. Nationalizing Assaf also placed irrelevant expectations on him, causing some to believe his Arab Idol success deserves support only under the pretext of Palestinian liberation. These ideas simply don’t match up because they fail to separate Assaf’s individual dream from the greater national goal. [Read more...]