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A Story of Palestine: 6 Songs to Guide You Through Palestinian History

A Story of Palestine: 6 Songs to Guide You Through Palestinian History
written by
Malak Gharib

Palestinian art has gone through an incredible evolution, from folk tunes composed before the Nakba to rap music written by young Palestinians today. Music is your ultimate guide to Palestinian history and a voice for its people. Here are six songs that will let you in on the evolution of culture in the land of olives and resistance.

Ya Sah El Saber by Wasif Jawhariyyeh

Image via ma’azef

Pre-Nakba art is a reminder of what Palestinians’ lives looked like behind war. They sang about love and heartbreak and had musical icons like Wasif Jawhariyyeh, who wrote, composed, and played oud in his original songs. Ya Sah El Saber is one of his most famous songs about unrequited love and heartbreak. 


Jerusalem Symphony by Youssef Khasho 

Image via Instagram

Later, Palestinians were introduced to modern music composed by Franciscan monks for performances in church services. Taught by the monks was the renowned musician Augustin Lama, Youssef Khasho’s mentor. Inspired by Lama, Khasho was called the Beethoven of Arabs. Before the Nakba, he was instrumental in promoting classical music, a genre whose popularity was fairly limited at the time. Khasho’s most famous composition is the Jerusalem Symphony


Al Ghoraaba’ by Fairouz 

Image via YouTube

The Nakba put Palestinian art on an unfinished pause. With thousands of residents fleeing their homes, many unfinished books, songs, and poems were left behind, waiting for their owners to come home to publish and release them, though that didn’t happen. The trauma was processed and presented by a group of poets that we now call “Poets Of The Nakba”. Al Ghoraaba’ was written as a poem by Harun Hashim Rasheed, a poet of the Nakba, then adopted by the Lebanese duo, The Rahbani Brothers, who transcribed it into song. The song highlights the lives of Palestinians who became refugees in foreign countries and the pain they’ve had to endure. It was then sung by the Lebanese icon Fairouz.


Aaly El Kuffiyeh by Jamal ElNaggar 

Image via Al KOFIYAH TV

Under occupation, Palestinians still held on to their identity. To show his pride, Jamal ElNaggar created his song Aaly El Kuffiyeh. The song was popularised when it was sung by Mohamed Assaf, winner of Arab Idol, during the finals of the show. 


Ya Denya Aaly Eshahady by Mohamed Assaf 

Image Via ETبالعربي

Assaf became an icon for Palestinians due to his hard work to make it to the well-established “Arabs Got Talent”, and then win. Once Assaf was crowned “Arab Idol of 2013”, he sang his first original song,  Ya Denya Aaly Eshahady, to show that Palestinians are still able to make their dreams a distinct reality despite the war.


Ein ‘An by Shab Jedid 

Image via Instagram 

With the rise of Arab rap, Palestine was no exception. Based in Ramallah, Shab Jedid’s bars rose to talk about life under the occupation. Later, his song Ein ‘An became a hit within the Arab region with 72 million views on YouTube.