Friday, August 25, 2006

Terrorist-praising Boy Band Tops Palestinian Charts

Here's a story you're not likely to see covered by today's MSM TV: the story of a Palestinian boy band who made it writing up a song praising Hezollah's leader Hassan Nasrallah. (Click here for an MP3 of it.)

The song, "Hawk of Lebanon," is mostly a 10-minute repetition of the phrase "Yallah, Nasrallah" along with other delightful lyrics such as "I hope we can destroy your life and make you worry, Zionism and Zionists are the biggest poison in Arab land."

It's taken the Palestine by storm. AP reporter Sarah El Deeb has more:

They were struggling in a boy band, working the West Bank wedding circuit and dreaming of stardom.

Now the five singers who make up the Northern Band have come a little closer to their goal, with help from an unwitting ally — Hezbollah guerrilla chief Hassan Nasrallah.

At the height of the Israel-Hezbollah war, the band wrote new lyrics, in praise of Nasrallah, for an old tune. The Hawk of Lebanon song tapped into Nasrallah's huge popularity among Palestinians and became an instant hit.

The song is being played on Arab TV networks, used as a ring tone for cell phones, passed around on e-mail and distributed on pirate CDs and tapes. Music stores have trouble keeping up with demand, in part because Israeli soldiers have confiscated some Nasrallah tapes and CDs at checkpoints.

Basking in its newfound success, the band has doubled its fee per performance to $230 US. At a recent wedding in the town of Ramallah, the band was asked to play the Nasrallah song six times.

Lead singer and manager Alaa Abu al-Haija, 28, said he gives the audiences what they want to hear.

Alaa and his two younger brothers and band partners — Nour, 25, and Mohammed, 22 — are already working on the next song about Nasrallah. Alaa also wrote the Hamas election song, to the same tune as the Nasrallah anthem, but it never reached the same popularity.

So just like their American counterparts, the Northern Band is recycling music from other songs.

The Washington Times also has a report:

At a wedding party in Ramallah this week, Alaa Abul Heijah's chants of "Yallah, Nasrallah" sent the male-only dance circle into a relentless spin, with arms flailing and hands clapping.

"The song has brought us fame," said Mr. Abul Heijah, the songwriter and leader of the Firkat Ishaman band. "Palestinian people are interested in talking about people that fight for their cause. Hassan Nasrallah is that person."

Just one month ago, the band would have been lucky to find gigs for two weeks a month, but now it is performing almost every day.

The band's popularity highlights how Hezbollah and Sheik Nasrallah burnished their prominence in the Arab world after a monthlong war with Israel that ended in a cease-fire. Palestinians see Sheik Nasrallah as the one Arab leader capable of facing down Israel.

According to a survey by the Ramallah-based Near East Consulting Group, 97 percent of Palestinians support Sheik Nasrallah. There are newspaper reports about young couples naming children Hassan or Nasrallah. And Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has reportedly bestowed words of praise on the Lebanese leader.

The upshot:

Palestinian society is divided, with some pledging loyalty to the Islamic militant Hamas, which took power in March, and others backing the Fatah movement of moderate Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

However, Hezbollah fever appears to have united the Palestinians, who feel deep resentment against Israel after 39 years of military occupation, including harsh restrictions on travel, commerce and other aspects of daily life. Many admire Hezbollah for holding off Israel's mighty army — similar to the popular support enjoyed by then-Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein when he fired Scud missiles at Israel in the 1991 Gulf War.

"We used to sing for Saddam," said Saed Akrawi, 26, whose perfume shop in downtown Jenin is adorned with a Nasrallah portrait, next to posters of models. "Saddam is gone. We want someone else to sing for."

Here is a translation of the lyrics.

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