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October 8, 2014 2:08 pm

Israeli Lebanese Tribute Album Making Waves in Arab World (VIDEO)

avatar by Dave Bender

Fairuz_CD cover.

Fairuz CD cover.

A relatively new Israeli band, Turquoise, is set to release its first mini-album, a tribute to legendary Lebanese singer, Fairuz (“Turquoise” in Arabic), but not without controversy, according to Israel’s NRG News on Tuesday.

Fairuz, called the “Jewel of Lebanon,” staked her claim to fame throughout the Arab world in the 1970s as a musical ambassador for her country, and is mentioned throughout the region in the same breath as classic nationalistic singers like Egypt’s Umm Kulthum, and Syria’s Farid al-Atrash.

The band’s cover of her song, “The People Asked Me,” was recently played on quite a few radio stations in the country, and surprisingly also led to the Arab world’s attention, with articles from leading sites in Lebanon, television stations, and even a notice on BBC Arabic.

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But while, “The People Asked Me,” made waves on local radio stations, Arab music networks and social media blasted the band’s choice of material as cultural theft.

Despite the fact that at least half of Jewish Israelis either hail from, or are descendants of immigrants from the Arab world, many Arabs are outraged that a Zionist Israeli band would dare “expropriate” their music, held as a cultural treasure.

A Palestinian columnist in Lebanon, Abdul Rahman Jasem, was incensed over what he considered a Zionist ransacking of Arab icons.

“They steal anything… they have attributed to themselves the Palestinian keffiyeh and thawb [ankle-length robe] and many Arab dishes, hummus, falafel, and tabbouleh,” he wrote in the pro-Hezbollah Al-Akhbar newspaper, the The Jerusalem Post noted.

But guitarist Oren Eliezri, who created the band with singer Dalit Friedman in 2012, told the Israeli newspaper “We consider this project as being an artistic and cultural mission. We want to acquaint Israelis, and the West in general, with the beauty and richness of authentic Arabic musical culture, in the belief that music brings people together.”

Watch the video below:

[iframe width=”640″ height=”360″ src=”//” frameborder=”0″ allowfullscreen>]

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