Arab Idol won’t liberate Palestine

Winner of the Arab Idol, Mohammad Assaf from Gaza

As a Palestinian born in Jordan, I along with millions of Arabs was pleased to see Mohammad Assaf win the Arab Idol, but was his victory a step towards liberation or peace, writes Amar Marar.

Yesterday we saw millions of Muslims across the Arab world celebrate Mohammad Assaf’s victory in the Arab Idol. If one was to see the scenes in Gaza they would have thought some sort of political resolution had been agreed which liberated the Palestinians from Zionist occupation.

Unfortunately this was not the case and the state of the Arab and wider Muslim world, whereby a punitive yet proud moment in a western copy-cat show brings joy but a short lasting one.

Arab Idol

The Arab Idol copied Simon Cowell’s Pop Idol, similar to how India copied Chris Tarrant’s Who wants to be a Millionaire. I have never been a fan of this habit of taking western showbiz programmes and replicating them in the Arab world.

To me, it seems as if firstly we are unable to produce any genuine entertaining shows for a majority Muslim audience and secondly we continuously look towards the west as an example in every aspect of our life, economics, politics, society and entertainment.

Without delving into the rights or wrongs of the Arab Idol according to Islam, I feel that like other major events – the World Cup Football, African Nations Cup or Olympics, the “euphoria of hope” is short lived.

I am sure even the most practicing of Muslims in Hamas and Islamic Jihad were secretly pleased for their fellow Palestinian winning a talent show which was viewed and followed by millions in the Arab world. But, I am also sure that those with a tentative and grounded mind know deep inside that Mohammad Assaf’s victory is just a night’s happiness among many nights of oppression, occupation and bloodshed to come.

Western coverage

What really annoyed me was how the BBC and other western media portrayed Assaf’s win as a step towards liberation or peace. This was typical of the mainstream western media who while depicting the difficult background of Assaf from Khan Yunis refugee camp in Gaza, there was no mention of who caused those difficulties ie. the Zionist entity of Israel.

Talks about “hope”, “peace” and him being an “ambassador” for Palestine was painted all over the media. This intentional manipulation by the BBC and their likes decreased my genuine happiness for Assaf, and made me realise that the Arab world would fall for this old trick of indirect pumping of “hope” to a people who have been failed and ignored by many.

The Arab media coverage was no less misleading on the reality of what Assaf’s win would actually achieve for the Palestinian cause. He was referred to as the “son of Gaza who would bring change” and so forth. In a nutshell, it’s really sad to see that Arabs couldn’t just appreciate the win for what it actually was – a young Gazan from a difficult background who won a show without polluting it with all the political jargon that followed.

To conclude, I am happy for Mohammad Assaf, I am happy that for one evening Gazans, Palestinians and the Arab world enjoyed a genuine moment of happiness. Putting my personal views on the show, its environment and political reality according to Islam aside, I think anyone who had their fellow countryman or patriot (a notion which I disagree with) win something would be happy.

But let’s face the facts, Palestine has been occupied for over 60 years, Palestinians don’t have a viable state and the Muslim world is in turmoil. With the conflict in Syria now spilling over to Lebanon, Arabs and the Muslim world need to wake up and smell the coffee that their destiny goes beyond a pop show.   

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