Sunday, October 20, 2013

From the Times of Oman:
This week, a Jordanian band went on a tour that included the Golan Heights, Nazareth, Haifa, Ramallah, Bethlehem and Jerusalem. But the popular music group which is rated as one of the top five in the region faced a concerted social media and online attack as having participated in a politically unacceptable act.

The attack focused on the fact that the band members received visas from the Israeli embassy in Amman. They are accused of normalising with the Israelis. Entry into Jerusalem, the Golan Heights, Nazareth or Haifa is not possible without a visa.

The permits issues by the Palestinian Authority in coordination with and after the approval of the Israelis are valid only in West Bank cities like Bethlehem and Ramallah.

The band, Autostrad, identifies itself as "an Ammani world, reggae, funk band from Jordan". Fronted by lead singer Yazan Alrousan, Autostrad was formed in 2007 with guitarist Hamza Arnaout, keyboardist Wisam Qatawneh, bassist Avo Demerjian, saxophonist Bashar Abdelghani and drummer Burhan Ali.

The online and social media campaign was launched by a number of young Jordanians and Palestinians, including some who are citizens of Israel.

In an article published on a number of progressive sites, the writer says the band is welcome to Palestine only after it is liberated. A hashtag with "come after it is liberated" also went viral as attacks against the music group mushroomed.

Autostrad members reject the accusation of normalisation and insist that they are visiting their country upon invitation from credible Palestinian organisations and will sing to Palestinians and Syrians living under Israeli rule.
It's not like Autostrad loves Israel. Quite the contrary:
Arnaout was quoted on a website that getting a visa was the only option available.

"We are Jordanians and Palestinians and this is the only way we have to enter our homeland Palestine and no one can stop us from doing our work."
But this is a big loss for the "Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel" which defined this trip as breaking their rules for normalization.

Even the author of the piece, Daoud Kuttab, criticized PACBI:
After 65 years of Nakbeh and 46 years of Israeli occupation of the West Bank, Gaza and Golan Heights, having a group of unelected individuals decide who is a patriot and who is a traitor does not serve the overall cause.
Ray Hanania made a similar point in Saudi Gazette, slamming the haters:
The extremists, who are a minority faction in our Arab community, step in and bully the mainstream Arabs into silence. Arabs are afraid to stand up to the extremists who often direct their hate and anger against Arabs even more than they do against Israel. So the mainstream Arabs remain silent. It’s better to not say anything, the moderates mistakenly conclude, than to stand up to the fanatics.


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