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I Hate Israel - Bakrah Israel
Bakrah Israel, I Hate Israel, is a hiphop/pop song that started as a working class anthem and has become the best selling single in Egypt's history. Listen to it here!!
Shaaban Abdel-Rehim is a singer whose popularity has swept the Arab world. Shaaban is part of a music scene called sha'bi pop, which is sort of a mix with western hip-hop styles. Currently, sha'bi pop is very much like the western hip-hop scene in that there is an "underground" scene and an aboveground commercial scene. Shaaban is rising up through the underground, and could be moving for the commercial world. But according to James Lileks, writing in Jewish World Review, Shaaban is an "illiterate worker" who yells "trenchant political commentary."
But there is trouble in paradise for Shaaban and his political commentary. McDonald's retained Shaaban to help introduce the new line of McFalafel. After a complaint from the American Jewish Committee, Shaaban lost his McDonald's contract. Why? Shaaban's most popular hit, "I Hate Israel," has created controversy because of its popularity and straightforward message.
Ayellat Yehiav, spokeswoman for the Israeli Embassy in Cairo, dismisses Shabaan as "a 'third-rate singer'
who has 'ridden a wave of hatred.'" But for many people in the Arab world, who sympathize with the Palestinian cause, the song evokes deep feelings that go beyond the simplicity of the lyrics ("I hate Israel even if you ask and I hate Ehud Barak because you are repulsive and because all people hate you").
Shabaan has defended his song as an expression of how he feels. "Personally I don't care about politics. I sing about life," he said. "I sing about whatever's happening. If there's an earthquake, I'll do a song about that."
"I don't just hate Israel. I hate all oppression from Israelis and Arabs," he said.
"Bakrah Israel" has become Egypt's biggest-selling single ever. Shaaban's other songs attack American foreign policy and Israeli military policy. "I hate Israel, I don't even care if you arrest me, I'm not afraid," he sings.
Americans who think they know "what is going on" in the Middle East and Central Asia have a lot to learn about a culture that is just as old and expansive as western culture.