Reports have shown that a hip-hop group, known as Palestine Street, have recently performed in various areas around their neighbourhood. The group of young artists create unique rap songs in order to portray the struggle countless youths in Palestine experience every day. This form of expression by the group was initially performed with apprehension but was quickly met with support from the community. The group has now set up multiple workshops in which they focus on teaching Palestinian youths to channel their anger and frustration into rap music, while still standing up for Palestinian rights.
Many troubled Palestinian youths have sought out the group in hopes of dealing with the products of their country’s conflict and its impact on their lives. “Throwing stones at soldiers is a way of expressing yourself, a way of unleashing your frustration. When you throw a stone at a soldier, you are demanding a better life. And when we discovered hip-hop, we used that same energy that used to draw us to the streets to throw stones,” says rapper Soud Hefawi. This perspective has allowed Palestine Street to enunciate their opinions on the conflicts occurring in such a way that peace and non-violent coping strategies are encouraged amongst the community.
More than two centuries ago, an extremist minority of the Jewish population, known as Zionists, immigrated to Palestine with the intention of creating a Jewish homeland. Palestine’s indigenous population was quickly overwhelmed, and conflict began to form between the Palestinians and Jewish immigrants. This led to intervention by the United Nations, and eventually resulted in the inclusion of numerous Arab armies in a war. This conflict bred turmoil and chaos for decades, leading to the present day in which Israel’s continued military occupation and confiscation of privately owned land in the West bank, and control over Gaza, have become extremely oppressive, with Palestinians having minimal control over their lives.
Palestine’s population has been heavily skewed for decades. The occupation of Israeli troops, along with Jewish immigrants, have forced millions of Palestinian citizens towards an ultimatum: leave behind their homes and possessions, become refugees and seek asylum in neighbouring countries, or stay in Palestine and endure the oppressive forces present within the country. Many families are forced into the latter, primarily due to a family member’s inability to travel, or a complete lack of finances. In both cases, countless youths are displaced and left to fend for themselves. Profound resentment and anger are used as a catalyst to misguide the youths down a dangerous and conflict-ridden path.
The Palestine Street group actively promotes more peaceful alternatives to retaliation against Israeli troops. Using music as a form of expression in order to diffuse tension and alleviate resentment within the community has to be proven successful and has resulted in a decrease in civilian casualties. This is due to the youths avoiding conflicts with the military, and reducing the risk of the troops retaliating violently. The rap group has plans to raise awareness of the conditions in Palestine, and recruit more misguided youths under their care and guidance in hopes of leading them to a more peaceful and stable future.