Palestinian man (whose is definitely NOT a refugee) tipped to win Arab Idol

The UN has two bodies which deal with refugees. The High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), which deals with all the world’s refugees and UNRWA, which deals only with those who became Palestinians. The High Commissioner for Refugees has taken care of fifty million people. They received initial help and they are not refugees. – Ben Dror Yamini

The number of Palestinian Arabs whose residence was within the boundaries of historic Palestine between June 1946 and May 1948, and lost their homes as a result of  Israel’s War of Independence, was, in 1949, estimated at 711,000.

The number of Palestinian Arabs still alive today who were personally displaced by the war is now as low as 30,000. 

However, UNRWA, an agency with an annual budget exceeding $650 million, tasked with caring for Palestinian “refugees”and only Palestinian “refugees”, counts descendants of those original 711,000 as “refugees”, and so puts the figure at over 5 million – a number which includes millions of Palestinian Arabs who are citizens of other Arab countries.

UNRWA’s strange logic is what inspired a component of the following headline, and accompanying text, in a Guardian story by Harriet Sherwood about a Palestinian who is poised to win Arab Idol.


Palestinian “refugee” Mohammed Assaf

Sherwood explains:

The golden voice of a young man fromGaza refugee camp [Khan Younis] has enchanted viewers of Arab Idol, broadcast weekly to huge audiences across the Middle East, making him a favourite to win the final of the television singing contest.

Mohammed Assaf, 22, has won massive support from viewers enthralled by his rendition of traditional love songs and laments for the Palestinian cause. He has also succeeded in uniting Palestinians in Gaza, the West Bank and the diaspora behind his efforts to win.

Assaf, who often performs wearing a traditional black-and-white chequered keffiyeh, is one of 12 finalists in the competition, broadcast by the Saudi-owned MBC1. Last year’s winner secured a lucrative recording contract and was presented with a car.

The Palestinian “refugee” swindle is but one of the many political derivatives from the ideologically inspired uncritical embrace of the Palestinian narrative which so often passes for serious journalism at the Guardian. 

Mohammed Assaf – a Palestinian (born 42 years after the 1949 war) who lives in the Palestinian run territory of Gaza, in Khan Younis – is not, by any reasonable definition of the word, a refugee. And, the fact that Palestinians continue to hold the key to this immutable victim status illustrates a greater truth about the egregious abuse of ordinary language within the cognitive battlefields of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict.

14 replies »

  1. Every “refugee” camp in the Gaza strip and the West bank is included in the figures even though they are under the PA or Hamas control and have permanent housing structures for 60+ years.

  2. I posted a comment asking whether the notion of “Arab Idol” which therefore excludes Jews, Kurds, Africans and everyone else was in fact racist.
    Of course the G deleted it. Only white people can be racist of course.

    • Arab relates to one culture.
      Jews, can be Arabic just like Lebanese identify themselves as Arabs.

      In case you didn’t know in the 30’s a third of Baghdad was Jewish.
      They played a serious role in forming the modern Arab music.
      The contest this article is about is slightly absurd in that notion but never the less, it is Arabic.

  3. There are Class A refugees: Palestinians, who are showered with funds, and Class B refugees, Africans, East Europeans etc, who are left to rot.

  4. If UNRWA would demand the countries where the refugees are the same demands it is throwing at Israel you could point to some sort of objectivity.
    It doesn’t, and as a result loses all credibility.

    It is a money making org and nothing more.
    The fact that most of its employees are Palestinians should have flagged up favouritsm and corruption long ago.

    It didn’t cause some one got paid a “back hander”.

  5. BTW, even if I do not apreciate or relate to the lyrics of his songs, I have to be fair and admit he is a talented boy and I wish him all the best.
    Many Israelis responded in the same way when this article was shown in Ynet.

    Sadly this will conflict with a certain narrative portraying all Zionist as blood thirsty Muslim child killers.


      Further more some spotted the word behind and thought it relates to martyr while in fact Shaid means View in Arabic.
      Many other Israelis pointed out.

      I am sadden to say that many in Europe and else where could not care that the conflict is not black and white and revert to a very simplstic approach to understand the conflict.

      It is evident below the line in many articles relating to I/P and to Syria.

      • Thanks Itsik. You are so right. It is a never-ending source of frustration that, as soon as I/P comes up, people are immediately forced into positions of “one side 100% good, the other 100% bad”, whereas life is far more complicated than that.

        No reason why Isreaelis or Judeophobes should not vote for Assaf or buy his music. I like the music of many people with whose politics I strongly disagree (or whose politics I simply don’t know). One thing has nothing to do with the other.

        He ain’t no refugee, though!

  6. By definition, a refugee must have been born in a particular country and forced to leave it at some given point in time. Assaf was born in Gaza which is administered by Hamas – a Palestinian entity. Assaf has never been a refugee in his life.
    At best he could have been a child of refugees.

  7. That’s just completely disingenous to be honest. Citizens of other arab countries? Get out of here! That’s just a complete lie. Assaf is not a Libyan citizen. The Arab governments have a distinct policy of not granting citizenship to Palestinian.