Palestinian youth tell the human stories behind the numbers in the news

Palestinian youth tell the human stories behind the numbers in the news

Hashem Aljarousha: Using his voice as his mission

Mahmoud Alnaouq | 13-05-2019

Do you like Hashem after reading this story? Go to our voting-instructions page, listen to his singing, then vote for him!

"My mother, my mother,
until the last day of my life.
Her love from the first moment of my life,
her concern is mine.
Her goodness is bountiful!"

This tribute to mothers was the first song professionally recorded by Hashem Aljarousha. When his mother heard it for the first time, she cried.

Hashem has loved singing for as long as he can remember. When he was in the first grade (6 years old), he sang whenever and wherever. Every time his school wanted someone to sing, he immediately volunteered, although he didn't realize at the time how talented he was.

It may be surprising that Hashem was inspired to sing so much. He was raised in hard conditions: His father's job was to make aluminum doors and windows, but when Israel imposed the blockade on Gaza in 2007, he no longer had any work. He was forced to close his workshop a year later. His older brothers tried to support his family, but when they married, they could barley take care of their own families.

Now, Hashem is the one who must take care of his mother and three sisters. Fortunately, after graduating from university with a major in Islamic studies, he was able to secure a courier job at the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor.

Following his heart, Hashem also took a music class at the Aswaar Qudsuna Foundation (which means “our Jerusalem walls”). He wanted to take more, but couldn't afford it, since each course costs 700 shekels ($190). 

However, Hashem now had a mentor: his music teacher, Nazmi Alayoubi, a Gazan singer who became known at the age of 13, when he recorded his first song, "I Am Palestinian." The 32-year-old now teaches music and Palestinian heritage at the Aswaar Qudsuna Foundation. Hashem learned from Nazmi that he must use his voice to tell the world about his reality.

Other sources of inspiration for Hashem are such famous Arab singers as Um Kulthum, Abdel Halim Hafez, Sayed Darwish and Sabah Fakhri—who all introduced him to the beauty of music.

“It’s impossible for any Arabic singer to become a good singer without listening to these great musicians,” he says.

One of the Palestinian singers he most cherishes is Mohammed Assaf, a Gazan who won the Arab Idol contest in 2013. Since then, he has enjoyed built a large following in the Arab world, engaging in many sold-out tours. Hashem believes every Palestinian should be proud of Assaf for representing the Gazan people so well. 

One day, a friend told him he should record his songs. Hashem responded by saying he couldn’t afford a studio. Fortunately, the friend knew a studio owner and helped him record his first song for free. When he published his first song on Facebook, it attracted 80,000 views. Now, he records a song every month.

For Gazavision, Hashem sang a song honoring Huda Ghaliah:

"Huda is mourning; she raised her hands
and saw the blood of her family on their bodies.
She called "My father!" and ran in shock.
But her loving father was dead.
(The Israelis) killed him along with his children,
in a spot where he thought safety and peace must be."

The song tells the story of 12-year-old Huda, who went with her family to the Gaza beach in the summer of 2006. An hour later, the Israeli navy bombarded the beach with three shells. Huda looked for her family but couldn't see anything through the thick smoke. When she recognized her father's lifeless body, she screamed. Her father, five siblings and aunt were killed. She is a survivor, however. Two months ago, Huda graduated from law school.

Hashem's message to people who are interested in Eurovision is this: "The same way you are interested in Eurovision, take a look at Gaza and see how much talent our people have. Gaza is not just wars, death and ruin. In Gaza, there are singers, actors, painters and more who want to show you their talents and tell you their stories."

Posted: May 12, 2019

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