Bad Luck from Palestine

Posted on 01 August 2010

As usual there is so much to write about, I almost don’t know where to start. There’s the new supermarket: the only place in Israel and the West Bank where Jews and Palestinians are treated with absolute equality, and it’s in a settlement. Or the water shortage: there’s always a water shortage but it’s so bad this year people are actually talking about the water shortage. Or  possibly the real plan for Gaza: Israel to hand it over to the EU to “look after” but still retain a monopoly over goods imported ensuring a lucrative market for Israel. Or how Palestinian society has been irrevocably changed by the “economic plan”: now people are taking out mortgages, loans and credit cards. Or how the once vibrant and amazingly strong prisoners’ movement has now been all but destroyed by Israel’s divisive tactics. I hope to write about all of these issues, and much more.

But for now I want to tell you about some shebab who formed a rap group about six years ago, when they were twelve. They are from Deheishe, so I automatically have a soft spot for them. They are really very good, and they’re currently called Bad Luck. (They’re talking abut changing their name.)

It’s incredible that they are even together, performing and writing. They have nothing: no equipment, no money, nowhere to practice and no one to help them. What they do have though is an amazing spirit. All they’ve achieved has been from their own hard work and tenacity.

Last night they played a gig at Oush Ghrab (crows nest) which used to be a military camp located on the eastern edge of Beit Sahour. It’s presence caused years of trauma to the area. During the early years of the second intifada this outpost, along with a smaller encampment at the base of Jebel abu Ghnaim (now Har Homa), used to regularly shell the town. A significant number of homes close by were either destroyed or badly damaged.

In a surprise move, the military moved out in 2006; well, almost. As we drove in there is still a military pillbox with a couple of soldiers inside, protecting Israel’s security. The camp has been taken back by the people of Beit Sahour and had received funding from USAID to help transform it into a community centre. But settlers have got their eye on the land and the money has since been stopped. Very importantly it is still being used locally: there’s a restaurant, playground, climbing wall and other activities for children. The stage is amazing and a great location for a gig. Of course, it is all outside. Perfect for a hot summer’s night.

It’s interesting to see the explosion of cultural resistance from the younger generation bursting onto the scene, both inside and outside Palestine. Rap gives a powerful voice to the disenfranchised, and Bad Luck use this platform very effectively. Their words are clever and insightful. They rapped about their lives and what is happening here. They have a very clear identity as refugees from the camp and how this affects their views. One of their songs was especially pertinent: it’s all about the relationship between Hamas and Fateh.

As well as their moving words, their physical performance was also outstanding. They are in total sync with each other and they moved about the stage flawlessly. They were a joy to watch and listen to.

It’s not just rap and hip hop that is defining the new generation. Interestingly, young Palestinians outside have become far more vocal and involved than ever before, they’ve an attachment to Palestine that previous generations didn’t seem to have. Art, photography, film, music: all mediums are being used to tell the world that Palestinians are here, that they exist, and that their resistance takes many forms. It’s beautiful and inspiring, and last night I was privileged to hear the voice of five young men shout out loud and proud: ehna awu lad il lajee’en min Deheishe!

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