Burj al-Barajna Dispatch
After making my way through the rubble and squalor of the overcrowded refugee camp near Beirut’s International Airport, I arrived half an hour late for my appointment with Umm Muhammad, a local living repository of Palestinian folk song traditions.
Zionist Lesbianism and Transsexual Transgression
The music of Dana International, a transsexual singer committed to queer issues, often parodies mainstream Israeli culture. Her latest song, “Diva,” was recently selected by the Israeli Broadcasting Authority to represent Israel at this May’s prestigious European song competition, Eurovision.  As Dana prepares for Eurovision, Michal Eden, another member of the Israeli queer community, is running in Meretz’ primaries for the Tel Aviv city board elections. Representing Tel Aviv queers in general and Klaf  (the Kehila Lesbit Feministit [the Lesbian Feminist Community]) in particular, Eden will run as a member of Meretz, the left Zionist party in Israel.
Al Miskin International/Tainted Love
What is up in Egypt? In Cairo, Mustafa Bakri, was deposed as editor-in-chief of al-Ahrar following the failure of the mutiny he led in the halls of the Liberal Party to depose of its leader, Mustafa Kamal Murad. Bakri stormed the party headquarters with 600 armed followers and had himself voted president. For a few days, two versions of al-Ahrar competed for space on the newsstands. Bakri’s paper made a vain stab at seeking Mubarak’s support by turning even more obsequious than the state-run press. Meanwhile, deposed party head Murad published his own loyalist edition attacking the Bakri cult of personality before the police finally moved in and ended Bakri’s short reign. What triggered the coup?
Improvisation and Continuity
Sabreen is considered the premier Palestinian musical group performing today. Influenced by Western rock and jazz, their distinctive style blends traditional Arab rhythms and instruments with subtly political lyrics reflecting the current active resistance to Israeli occupation. Two members of Sabreen, lead singer Camelia Jubran and founder and composer Sa‘id Murad, spoke to Kamal Boullata and Joost Hiltermann in Washington. Translated by Dina Jadallah.
Tell us about the history of Sabreen.
Rai Tide Rising
Two Algerian rai tunes make the top ten of the Village Voice music critics’s poll in 1989. Rai is now heard daily on college radio from the University of Pennsylvania to Oregon State. Urban dance clubs with “world music” nights feature rai discs along with their usual mix of reggae, salsa, zouk and ju-ju. Tower Records stocks rai cassettes and CDs in its nationwide outlets. What, in the words of Marvin Gaye, is goin’ on? Why are post-liberation Algerian pop singers winning a wide Western audience while an earlier generation of popular Arab singers like Umm Kulthoum, Muhammad ‘Abd al-Wahhab and Fairouz never did?
Music, Fate and State
In a violent act of vengeance, the kind of crime of honor which fills Turkish jails and the pages of the tabloids, a lorry driver in Istanbul catches his wife and boss in flagrante delicto, shoots them both and flees to his home village. The police surround the village house. The man surrenders and is taken away. He had left his village to find work in Libya, but through a series of accidents and chance encounters while being detained at the employment agency in Istanbul, he found work in a haulage firm and eventually set up his own business. Drunk and confused one evening, he was seduced by his next-door neighbor, a single woman, who eventually pressured him into marrying her.