Can't get their own culture? First hummus now music, Israeli band accused of stealing Arabic songs
Israeli band Turquoise is due to perform songs by Arab legend Fairouz, stirring controversy (Image: Screenshot)
A Beirut-based Palestinian writer said Thursday that a project by an Israeli band to perform songs by Arabic diva Fairouz in Hebrew is a Zionist and Jewish plot to plunder Lebanese culture.
Writing in the Lebanese outlet Al Akhbar, known for its staunch anti-Israel and pro-Hezbollah stance, Abdul Rahmam Jasem accused Israeli band Turquoise of profiting from the Arab world’s artistic and cultural heritage.
Dubbed the “Jewel of Lebanon”, Fairuz is considered one of the most respected singers in the Arab world.
Singer Dalit Friedman and guitarist Oren Eliezri created Turquoise in 2012 to produce an EP of Fairouz’s songs in Hebrew. They say they have translated Fairuz’s hits like Sa'alouni El Nas (“The People Asked Me”) in part to share the Lebanese singer’s works with an Israeli audience.
However, Jasem accused Turquoise of being a Zionist scheme backed by the Israeli government. The band, he said, is part of a plot designed to “Israelify” Fairuz’s works, in an attempt to show that Israeli culture is a genuine and integral part of regional Arab culture.
“Everyone knows that the Zionists do not exactly have a history here in the country that they stole from its people,” he wrote.
Jasem noted that the Israeli government had once mentioned Turquoise on its official “Israel Speaks Arabic" Facebook page, which promotes Israeli culture to Arabic speakers. This, Jasem said, constituted proof that the Jewish State was officially backing the band.
Jasem said that Israel’s “brazen theft” of Fairuz’s music was the latest in a long line of larceny perpetrated by the Jewish State against local Arab culture.
“They steal anything…they have attributed to themselves the Palestinian keffiyeh [traditional Arab headdress] and thawb [ankle-length robe] and many Arab dishes, hummus, falafel, and tabbouleh,” he wrote.
In response to Jasem’s comments, Turquoise guitarist Eliezri told The Jerusalem Post that the band was pleased that people in Lebanon had discovered the group’s music online.
“We consider this project as being an artistic and cultural mission. We want to acquaint Israelis, and the West in general, with the beauty and richness of authentic Arabic musical culture, in the belief that music brings people together,” Eliezri said.
Eliezri added that before starting work on the EP, the band had consulted with the Association of Composers, Authors and Publishers of Music in Israel (ACUM) and a copyright attorney.