Spotify must take down songs promoting hatred

Ambassador performs in the video for his song Free Palestine 2 (Gaza Under Attack) (YouTube)
Ambassador performs in the video for his song Free Palestine 2 (Gaza Under Attack) (YouTube)

It’s a sad reality that antisemitism and attacks against Jews are on the rise.
In 2021, the number of reported antisemitic incidents rose by 34 percent on the previous year. In the Community Security Trust (CST)’s 2021 Antisemitic Incidents Report, it noted that “the landscape of UK-based antisemitism in 2021 is largely defined by responses to conflict in Israel and Palestine”. When the conflict exploded that May, the CST recorded its highest monthly total of 661 reported antisemitic incidents.

Antisemitism often masquerades as anti-Zionism, and ‘Zionist’ is often used as a euphemism for ‘Jew’. It was no coincidence that, in May 2021, a convoy of cars draped in Palestinian flags paraded in largely populated Jewish areas before speeding down Finchley Road calling for the rape of Jewish girls. It was also no coincidence YouTubers Ali Dawah and Mohammed Hijab harassed visibly Orthodox Jews about the Israel-Palestine conflict on a Shabbat morning.

Artists use platforms afforded by their celebrity status to spread certain messaging and ideologies, including through music steaming services. We Believe in Israel has uncovered music inciting violence and hatred against Israel and Jews readily available on Spotify. Of particular concern were six tracks by Lowkey, Ambassador MC,  Shadi al-Bourini and Qassem al-Najjar.

Lowkey’s three Long Live Palestine raps fuel antisemitic tropes about money, power and influence. He chants about world domination, economic exploitation lining Zionist pockets, and calls for the globalisation of the intifada.

Ambassador MC’s Free Palestine lyrics mirror the well-known blood libel “Israel wants every Palestinian to bleed”. He links Israel to Nazism and 9/11, as well as an
Assad regime trope that al-Qaeda and Israel are the same entity.

Antisemitism and a call to violence is rife throughout Shadi al-Bourini and Qassem al-Najjar’s Udrub Udrub Tel Abib (Strike a Blow at Tel Aviv). They stereotype Jews: “Oh you settler, with your sidelocks, in your shelter you cower with fear” while proclaiming: “We don’t want no truce… All we want is to strike Tel Aviv.” 

When Lowkey and Ambassador MC’s music were part of the soundtrack to many
of 2021’s protests and social media campaigns against Israel, it is little surprise they coincided with some of the worst antisemitism British Jews have ever experienced. 

Hatred dressed up in a tune makes listeners nonchalant to antisemitism and the message they are spreading. 

The National Union of Students (NUS) has recently come under fire for inviting Lowkey to perform at its centenary (although Lowkey withdrew from performing). That and quietly dropping the  International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance  definition of antisemitism has led Labour’s shadow health secretary, Wes Streeting, to declare: “It’s deeply depressing that the NUS centenary coincides with one of the lowest points in its history.” 

The Palestine Solidarity Campaign also has Lowkey as a patron. Violence is not a way to achieve peace. “It’s about time we globalised the intifada” is not a call for a peaceful protest, it is a call for a terrorist uprising. Israeli Arabs, Jews, and two Ukrainians were killed at the end of last month in the name of an intifada against Israel. 

We have launched a campaign asking Spotify to take action. The streaming giant has clear rules prohibiting the promotion of violence and incitement of hatred, and we expect them to be upheld. It is unacceptable to host antisemitic conspiracies and tropes or to legitimise terrorism. With your help, we can make sure it is not tolerated.

To sign the petition, visit:
www.webelieveinisrael.org.uk/spotify 

About the Author
Rachel is Campaign Manager at We Believe in Israel
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