Rim Banna and the Cultural War that Palestinians Must Win

Rim Banna passed away at the age of 51. Her death on March 24, after a decade-long battle with cancer, brought grief to Palestinians everywhere.

Rim, a Palestinian Christian from Nazareth, united the Palestinian people across political and geographic divides.

When she sang for the Homeland, nothing mattered but Palestine. Christians and Muslims, Fatah and Hamas, Gaza and Ramallah, all became one.

Through her soulful and warm voice, she imparted sorrow, yet celebrated life. Her songs ‘Fares Odeh’ and ‘Sarah’ were poetic interpretation of precious young Palestinian lives cut short by Israeli soldiers.

The butterfly will carry you to the back of a cloud
The gazelle will run with you to a hollow of syamore
The scent of bread will take you, a martyr, to the embrace of your mother
The star said to him, “Bring me to the courtyard of my house”
“Take me to the mattress of my slumber”
Sleepiness climbed up my sides
And settled in my head.

Music unites Palestinians when politicians fail. In fact, while for years the collective calls for ‘Palestinian unity’ has gone unheeded, Palestinian music has continued to bring Palestinians closer.

Deep-rooted Palestinian culture is what makes Palestinians who they are, a people with a unique and lucid identity, despite 70 years of exile, ethnic cleansing, sieges, numerous borders and wanton killings.

And when Rim sang, her voice penetrated through the seemingly impregnable Apartheid walls, checkpoints, military curfews…

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