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November 19, 2012

Protest Song of the Day: ‘Try Not to Cry’ by Sami Yusuf & Isam

Posted in: Protest Songs

The deadliest day since Israel began bombarding Gaza on Wednesday was yesterday. At least 21 Palestinians were killed, including four women and nine children. The shelling continues on Monday with reports of wounded after each shelling.

The song for today is another selection for Palestinians. In 2005, British singer-songwriter of Azerbaijani origin, Sami Yusuf, released a song called, “Try Not to Cry.” It was for Palestinians being oppressed by Israel.

The chorus notes the isolation Palestinians feel, “You, you’re not aware/That we’re aware/Of your despair.” He then urges them to not show their tears to their “oppressor” and not let their “oppressor” know they are suffering.

Isam, a Moroccan artist of the hip-hop group, Outlandish, which is based in Denmark, raps:

Passing through the sands of times
This land’s been the victim of countless crimes
From crusaders and mongols
To the present aggression
Then the franks, now even a crueller oppression
If these walls could speak,
Imagine what would they say

The throwing of stones is used as a metaphor throughout the song. Yusuf sings that his heart is a stone he’ll throw with Palestinians. Isam, at one point, raps, “Bullets may kill, bones may break/Still I throw stones like David before me…”

In context, the song came out the year that Yasser Arafat died. Mahmoud Abbas was elected leader of the Palestinian National Authority. Palestinians grew suspicious that Arafat had used money from countries and organizations to develop Palestinian society for his own personal expenses. The allegations led Hamas to become more popular, as it had worked to build up social services. Hamas began to focus on politics and would go on to win the legislative elections in 2006.

There were no major military offensives launched by Israel in 2005, however, the Second Intifada, a Palestinian uprising, was coming to an end. This went on from September 2000 to 2005 with at least three thousand Palestinians killed and around one thousand Israelis killed in violent attacks by Palestinian militants and the Israeli military.


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