“Dubai, Dubai,” a satirical song performed last weekend on an Israeli TV station by the Israeli comedienne Noam Shuster-Eliassi, has been reverberating through social networks in Arab countries, as well as the mainstream media outlets in the Arab world – from Aljazeera to Al-Quds Al-Arabi.
The song, in which Shuster-Eliassi blasts normalization of relations between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, appeared as part of a comedy sketch on the Arabic-language station Makan 33’s “Shu-Esmo” program (in Arabic: Whatshisname).
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It was written by the program’s editor, Razi Najjar. The parody begins with the comedienne introducing herself as “Haifa Wannabe,” an allusion to the famous Arab singer Haifa Wehbe, and then goes on to say that she’s “going to sing an original song I wrote in Arabic in celebration of the peace treaty with Dubai, but in general – it’s very important for me to send out a message of love and peace, particularly if it is found 4,000 kilometers away from here.” Her words are a seeming criticism of Israel’s Arabic-language propaganda efforts – which trickles messages of peace and love to Arabs in the faraway lands of the Persian Gulf, while ignoring the Israeli Arabs living within its borders.
The song includes lines in Arabic such as “At the end of the tunnel there is light, and if only all of the Arabs, like those who are in Dubai who have money, would love the people of Israel and not throw us into the sea. There is nothing quite like Arabs who have millions, and who have forgotten the members of their people who underwent a Naqba, who have forgotten Palestine. In Dubai, they forgot the siege on Gaza, how nice would it be if only all the Arabs were from Dubai.”
Criticisms of a similar nature have already been voiced by observers on the Palestinian side, but the song by “the Israeli who is making fun of normalization with the Emirates,” as she was labeled in the Aljazeera channel headline, has received widespread coverage – and managed to put the issue of normalization between Israel and the Emirates onto the public agenda in the Arab media.
The Lebanese television channel Al Mayadeen describes Shuster-Eliassi as “an Israeli who ridicules normalization with the Emirates,” while the Al Quds news site describes her humorous song as no less than “a new Israeli song that praises normalization with the Emirates and is sparking a storm among the Arabs.”
Qatari media personality Jabber Al Harami quoted the song by Shuster-Eliassi on his Twitter account, and expressed support for the opinion it expressed. Dr. Othman Othman, a communications expert who lives in England, quoted the song on his Twitter page, adding: “Shuster is a comedienne who has expressed her opinions at events in Sheikh Jarrah and has in the past tweeted ‘I am an Israeli Jew and my heart is with Sheikh Jarrah and the residents of Gaza. The solution is the end of the cruel occupation,’” he wrote, referring to the plight of Palestinians living in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah who face eviction.
Along with those who understood the satire, Dr. Abed el Aziz al Husroogi al Ansari, a sociologist and television host in Qatar, related to the song in a video uploaded to his own YouTube page, in which he declared: “The Israeli Zionist media constantly ridicules the Emirates, and you remain silent – Israel is the big beneficiary of normalization, not you. This ridicule of the Emirates is a massive humiliation.” Furthermore, he contended, the song is proof of the fact that Israel will never treat Arabs with respect.