Guest Feature: Elias Jahshan
Took a little break from the newsletter last week, just to regroup and recharge. But we’re back! So let’s go ahead and get right into it.
I am so excited to introduce our guest feature for this week: Elias Jahshan!
Elias is a London-based, Sydney-bred journalist and writer with Lebanese and Palestinian background. He is a former board member of Arab Council Australia and also a former (and first PoC) editor of Star Observer, Australia's longest-running queer media outlet. He has had work published in The New Arab, The Guardian, My Kali, SBS Voices, and more. He was also a contributor to the Arab, Australian, Other anthology (Picador/Pan Macmillian, 2019) through his chapter "Coming Out Palestinian". He will also feature in another anthology to be released in 2022, and is currently working on his debut novel. His work usually evolves around Arab people and culture, as well as Arab identity and how it intersects with quuer identity.
Talk about someone with a big heart and incredible wit to boot! Elias is a vociferous defender of humanity who exudes thoughtfulness and empathy with his every word and action:
1. What is your favorite song right now?
“Save Your Tears” by The Weeknd
It's been on the airwaves for a while now but honestly, this song gives me major Michael Jackson/Prince vibes and I'm so here for it. But then again, I could be slightly biased as I've always been a fan of The Weeknd and his style of music.
2. What’s your go-to song for all your feels?
To me, this song encapsulates everything about what makes Fairuz so iconic and well-loved: from the dramatic string arrangement to her velvet voice and lyrics, it's just sublime. I discovered this song in my early 20s, shortly after my dad died. Listening to it makes me think of him, makes me reach out to wherever he may be right now, to say hello to him. It may seem weird, but grief makes you do strange things.
3. Name a song that reminds you of home.
“Jerusalema” by Master KG featuring Nomcebo Zikode
I was obsessed with this tune when it came out. Most people may have interpreted the Zulu lyrics through religious lens, but for me - as part of the Palestinian diaspora - it viewed it as an homage to my ancestral homelands, and that inexplicable yearning to return. The song took on a whole new meaning through a video “cover” in which Palestinian youth come together for a countrywide dabke routine (complete with zaghred!) when the Jerusalema dance challenge was trending all over social media. The clip perfectly encapsulates Palestinian joy, it’s sublime to watch, and it has lifted my spirits on many occasions. More so this month.
4. Name a song you know all the words to.
Honestly, what is there NOT to like about this song? I am a huge, huge fan of Marah and this is hands down my favourite tune of hers. She shows off her singing chops and it's just so damn catchy! And the remix with ODB? *chef's kiss* I can still clearly remember falling in love with Mariah Carey as a kid, when she dropped the Dreamlover video clip, and since then she has helped through many stages of my life. But “Fantasy” is a song I keep coming back to time and time again - it's just so timeless and upbeat! Also, Mariah must be protected at all costs.
5. Name a song that gets you really hype and ready to go.
“I Wanna Dance with Somebody” by Whitney Houston
You can most certainly find me bopping along to this song as I'm getting ready to go out, or while I'm in the kitchen cooking up a feast. This song has also become synonymous with me among my family. If it comes on while at a wedding reception, siblings and cousins will always turn to me to say "Elias, it's your song!" My brother even requested it a DJ on my behalf at a nightclub one night.
Big shout out to Elias for joining and sharing his song selections! All of Elias’s songs will be included in this week’s playlist, so be sure to take a listen. And definitely give him a follow on Twitter if you don’t already! (His birthday is in 5 days so happy early birthday to Elias!)
What I’m Listening To
🎧 Arab Flows (Middle Eastern & North African artists) 🎧
Baka Baka - Manal
Love on the Comedown - Felukah
Msh Bel 7ozoz - Afroto
Beirut - Blu Fiefer
She Don’t Care - Sabrina Bellaouel
A’olek Eh! - Dirty Backseat
Dahab - Dana Durr
Omouri - DAK
Od Ya Habibi - Abu Baker Salim
Now or Never - Lea Makhoul featuring Skyral
🎤 Las Vibras (Latinx & Hispanic artists) 🎤
Qué Más Pues? - J Balvin featuring Maria Becerra
100 MILLONES - Bad Bunny featuring Luar La L
Diferente - Paula Cendejas featuring Piso 21
Ganas de Ti - El Chacal featuring Lenier
Tengo una Pena - Estela Trujillo
vale na - CRYS
no me falta nada - Greta Ela
De más - Irenita featuring leo matí
Dale - Kafu Banton
Pimienta - ELENA ROSE
🎼 Other Music 🎼
Rider - Mereba
Fractions - Nicki Minaj
Shallow Water - Wild Nothing
On One - Joyce Wrice featuring Freddie Gibbs
Yebo/Sema - Masego
Like Glue - Sean Paul
Destroyer - Ruby Haunt
Ain’t Nobody - Chaka Khan
Nobody’s Favorite - Rick Ross featuring Gunplay
Everybody Wants To Rule The World - Tears For Fears
What I’m Reading
🇱🇧 Lebanon 🇱🇧
What cost an education? Lebanese students fight fees hike - Timour Azhari, Thomson Reuters Foundation
Faced by a steep hike in university fees due to a sharp currency depreciation, students mount legal battle to protect those most at risk
Palestinian rights in Lebanon: ‘a humanitarian matter, not a political one’ - Abby Sewell, L’Orient Today
“As political parties across the spectrum decry recent events in Jerusalem and Gaza, scant progress has been made on improving conditions for Palestinians living in Lebanon”
Toxic waste clean-up highlights lack of governance in Beirut - Chloe Cornish, Financial Times
Squabbling Lebanese politicians still fail to take responsibility in the aftermath of port disaster.
In Lebanon, Migrant Workers Are Facing More Abuse Than Ever - Elianor M.A., Ms. Magazine
In Lebanon, the pandemic struck at a time of social change and economic crisis, whereby the culture shifted towards overthrowing corrupt political leaders but forgot to take into account migrant workers—victims of several human rights violations.
Reviving the forgotten sounds of Lebanese folk legend Roger Fahkr - Natalie Shooter, Middle East Eye
Fakhr’s unknown 1970s acid folk recordings are testament to the diversity of Beirut's music scene in the 1970s when a whole host of musical influences washed over the city.
🌍 Middle East, North Africa, & Diaspora 🌎
For this 24-year-old, fighting for Palestinian rights is ‘the most core part of my identity’ - Julianne McShane, The Lily
Lea Kayali is one of many Palestinian women continuing a long-held tradition of fighting for liberation.
Some Yemenis Struggle For U.S. Visas Even After The End Of The Travel Ban - Ruth Sherlock and Nada Homsi, NPR
"Why call us? Why make us pay the costs for the interview, for the test, for the travel to Djibouti and go through the whole routine, only to refuse us at the very end?"
Let's Talk About Race: 5 Women Share Their Experience With Racism - Devinder Bains, Harper’s Bazaar Arabia
“What has the death of George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter movement that followed, meant for Black women in the Middle East and beyond? We ask five female voices to share their lived experiences of racism and their personal journeys over the past 12 months.”
A Jewish Case for Palestinian Refugee Return - Peter Beinart, The Guardian
“As fraught and imperfect as efforts at historical justice can be, consider what happens when they do not occur. The crimes of the past, when left unaddressed, do not remain in the past.”
Iraqi Activism Fights for Survival Amid Murders and Threats - Jane Arraf, The New York Times
A movement demanding a new kind of Iraq struggles to carry on, despite intimidation from Iranian-backed militias that are believed to have murdered dozens of activists.
🎶 Music, Arts, & Culture 🎶
Record label Empire paves new path for Arabic music industry - Elias Jahshan, The New Arab
Despite the occasional case of mainstream success, Arab musicians have found it difficult to break the music industry's glass ceiling. However, given the continued popularity of Arab sounds, Empire's market development VP wants to change that.
The Divas of the Arab World - Olivia Snaije, Newlines Magazine
How a long-awaited exhibit at Institut du Monde Arabe is celebrating the lives of early 20th century feminist singers.
Yara Shahidi’s New Adidas Collection Is an Ode to Her Black and Iranian Roots - Bianca Betancourt, Harper’s Bazaar
The actress’s collaboration with the sportswear giant sends the message that a global perspective on life looks good on everyone.
Meet Laila Ajjawi - the Palestinian street artist graffitiing for women's rights in the Middle East - Issie Cameron, AZEEMA
Laila Ajjawi is a Palestinian street artist striving to change the Jordanian community’s perception of women - one empty wall at a time. Laila’s work has recently featured in international magazines and papers, but her identity, as a displaced refugee and a woman, continues to shape the work she creates.
How Plywood From Last Year’s Protests Became Art - Maya Salam, The New York Times
During the George Floyd marches last year, businesses boarded up. This year, hundreds of those boards will be displayed in exhibitions in Minneapolis, New York and Chicago.
📚 Other Reads 📚
Tulsa, 100 Years Later - Karen Grigsby Bates, NPR
In the spring of 1921, Black residents of Tulsa, Oklahoma's Greenwood neighborhood were attacked by a mob of angry white people. More than 300 people were killed, and thousands were left homeless. Now, 100 years later, Tulsa is still reckoning with what lessons to take from that deadly massacre.
The lowrider is back: The glorious return of cruising to the streets of L.A. - Daniel Hernandez, Los Angeles Times
Every weekend, caravans of lowriders and custom cars are cruising and hopping in a resurgent ritual. Van Nuys Boulevard is one of the city’s oldest sites of this resilient SoCal obsession.
How Jeremy Lin’s career mirrors the current Asian American movement - Cary Chow, The Undefeated
The point guard’s NBA legacy goes way beyond Linsanity.
“I Did Have Some Trouble Reporting the Truth” - Aymann Ismail, Slate
Some journalists covering Israel and Palestine say an “illusive concept of impartiality” led them to face persistent doubts and skewed editing for years. Is that changing now?
Yes, you’re cheugy. But it’s fine! - Christine Emba, The Washington Post
Millennials are obsessed with being cheugy because they’re scared of getting old.