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Palestine Music Feature: The CD Highlighting Israel’s Imprisonment of Children

Lost Youth --- Songs of Solidarity A new benefit album has been released to highlight the plight of Palestinian children jailed by the Israeli regime.

The CD was spurred by the case of Mohammad Sameh Hashash. In 2005, Mohammed was en route to tour Scotland, Ireland, and England with Aidoun, a Palestinian youth theatre company from the Balata Refugee Camp in the West Bank. Detained at the crossing to Jordan, Mohammed was interrogated for two months before being charged with "conspiracy against Israel and associating with 'wanted' persons". He is scheduled for release next year.

The CD presents a compilation of songs from a range of genres, styles and national traditions, with a strong infusion of Gaelic inspiration. Below are three tracks from the album, which can be purchased here, followed by James Edwards' article on the release, written for Electronic Intifada.

Long Live Palestine - Lowkey

Rachel Corrie - Pól Mac Adaim

Mothers Lullaby - Mickey Coleman and Plunkett McGartland

Eclectic New Album Highlights Israel’s Jailing of Palestinian Children
James Edwards

Lost Youth - Songs of Solidarity, a new benefit album for a young Palestinian theater performer arrested and imprisoned by Israel on his way to tour Ireland, Scotland and England in 2005, has been released. A portion of the proceeds will go towards highlighting the child prisoner issue.

Regarded as legitimate targets by Israel’s military, children have made up a shocking 1,327 of the 6,487 Palestinians killed by Israeli forces since 2000, according to the human rights organization B’Tselem.

Israel’s disregard for the rights of Palestinian minors is also displayed within the Palestinian prisoner population. A recent Defence for Children International-Palestine Section report found that Palestinian children continue to be systematically ill-treated in the Israeli military court system (“NGO Progress Report, Follow-up to the Concluding Observations (Israel),” 1 August 2011).

Each year hundreds of Palestinian children, some as young as 12 years, are arrested and prosecuted in Israeli military courts. The overwhelming majority of these children are detained inside Israel in violation of Article 76 of the Fourth Geneva Convention.

In order to help highlight such issues, Lost Youth - Songs of Solidarity, a new benefit album, has been released. The topic has had particular local relevance since a 15-year-old theater performer was arrested and imprisoned by Israel on his way from Palestine to Ireland in 2005.

Muhammad Sameh Hashash was part of the Aidoun youth theater group from Balata refugee camp near Nablus that toured Ireland, Scotland and England, performing traditional dance and drama at local festivals.

Organizers had seen the trip as a chance to counteract the demonization of Palestinians and demonstrate to an international audience the vibrancy, richness and beauty of Palestinian culture. It was also an opportunity to take a large group of young people away from the dangers and stresses of a life enclosed by occupation and conflict.

Before the tour began Aidoun director Mohammed Abu Hakim explained that the children of Balata had spent “… the past four years in the square kilometer around Balata camp. Several have rarely left Nablus since they were born. They feel alone, that the world doesn’t care about them. Seeing the world and meeting people will change their lives.”

As the group crossed between the occupied West Bank and Jordan, Muhammad Sameh Hashash was taken away by Israeli soldiers.

“After that he disappeared out of our eyes. We were crying and scared for him. When we were in Jordan we heard that Muhammad had been arrested. The whole situation became like a funeral — everybody was crying,” said Abu Hakim following the incident. “The Israelis have killed his childhood. His dream was of travelling and to talk about Palestine … They put his dream in a cage.”

Muhammad was kept in interrogation for over two months and ultimately sentenced by a military court; he was charged with conspiracy against Israel and associating with “wanted” persons. He is due for release in 2012.

As well as dancing and acting, Muhammad made documentary videos about life in Balata and had been a youth reporter covering regular military invasions. Balata is the largest and poorest camp in the West Bank. Most of its population originate from around Jaffa on the Mediterranean coast, but now more than 30,000 residents are crammed into narrow alleyways and crumbling buildings far from the sea. Muhammad had never seen the sea, and rarely left the city over the previous five years. He grew up in the “Hashashin” quarter, the most deprived part of the camp.

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