Songs written by Arab singers from across the Middle East in response to Israel’s offensive in Gaza are making the Palestinian issue a major topic of conversation in Arab popular culture again, Express Tribune has reported.

In Cairo, a well-liked Egyptian wedding singer named Rudy is now singing songs with new words that praise Abu Obaida, the military spokesperson for Hamas. These songs mix feelings of defiance, helplessness, and anger because of the war between Israel and Hamas, the group that controls the Gaza Strip.

“Abu Obaida, O Lion-Hearted … set them all ablaze,” she belts out to a percussive beat.

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In Jordan, artists from different Arab states came together in October to record a song dreaming of Palestinians going back to the lands occupied by Israel. This song has been watched by millions on social media.

The increasing popularity of songs that sympathize with Palestinians or support Hamas, even from artists who usually stay away from politics, shows frustration over Israel’s attacks on Gaza, its control over Palestinian land, and the support it gets from the U.S. and Europe for its military actions.

It also shows the support among Arab people for Hamas and for armed resistance as Israel tries to eradicate the group.

Hamas militants killed 1,200 people and took 253 hostages in an attack on Israel on October 7, according to Israeli reports. Gaza health officials say nearly 30,000 Palestinians have been confirmed killed in Israel’s military retaliation.

The conflict has caused division around the world and led to broader cultural disagreements.

At the annual Eurovision Song Contest, meant to be non-political, there has been controversy over Israel’s entry mentioning the October 7 attack.

In the United States, heated debates on university campuses have affected some staff members’ careers, with students accusing each other of antisemitism and Islamophobia.

In Israel, artists have created songs about October 7. Some focus on the victims’ suffering, while others express revenge.

One music video shows a survivor of a Hamas attack at a music festival on October 7. Another, by Israeli rapper Subliminal, depicts Gaza neighborhoods being destroyed by airstrikes while Israeli tanks and snipers prepare for war.

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In Arab societies, many people believe that the war is supported by Western countries and is aimed at harming Palestinian civilians.

Wedding singer Rudy said watching Israeli attacks left her feeling helpless and wanting to sing in support of Hamas.

At weddings where she performs, guests often ask her to sing about Gaza. One of her songs praises Abu Obaida, a Hamas spokesperson, whom many see as a hero defending children from Israeli attacks.

“Abu Obaida – we see him as a hero who stands up against Israel. There are children dying and he is standing up to defend them,” Rudy said.

Lebanese rapper Jaafar Touffar also raps about Abu Obaida and the Aqsa Flood – the name Hamas gave its October 7 assault – and says ‘more is coming’ to Israel.

A poll by the Doha Institute for Graduate Studies found that 67 percent of 8,000 respondents viewed the October 7 attack as a justified act of resistance against occupation.

Before October 7, the Palestinian cause was often overlooked as Gulf countries normalized relations with Israel and stopped pushing for a Palestinian state.

Now, these issues are at the forefront of regional discussions, from social media to everyday conversations.

In a music video by Kuwaiti singer Humood Al Khuder, symbols like keys representing homes lost in the Nakba of 1948, the black-and-white kuffiyah headscarf, and a refugee child called Handala are used to show solidarity with Palestinians.

‘NEVER FORGET WHAT’S HAPPENING’

Lebanese musician Zeid Hamdan said he now focuses his music on the war and its impact on Lebanon where Israel and the militant group Hezbollah often fight each other with rockets and airstrikes.

“I don’t perform anymore just to become famous as an artist. I’m on stage to wake people up and send an urgent message. I’m going from one fundraiser to another to protest,” he said.

Arab musicians understand that their music might not change the war’s course or influence Arab leaders.

Ghaliaa Chaker, who recorded the song ‘Returning’ with 24 other Middle Eastern artists in Jordan, says her goal is to keep the suffering in Gaza in people’s minds.

“I really hope they (Gazans) know they’re in our prayers,” she said. “That’s the best we can hope for … to keep talking about it. Never forget what’s happening.”