Marcel Khalife Concert – Between Support and Opposition

A wonderful night, a wonderful concert!! Over 600 hundred attendants were happy to hear the Lebanese composer, musician, Oud player and singer Marcel Khalife on the night of 30 June 2009 in 000_0764athe courtyard (Arkadenhof) of the municipality in Vienna. Khalife sang the songs of Mahmoud Darwish, he sang for the passport, the gun and … His songs were a present to Palestine. The audience sang with Khalife and applauded his songs warmly.

Among the audience was Dr. Andreas Mailath-Pokorny from the city of Vienna representing the Major Dr. Michael Häupl, the ambassador of the Arab League Dr. Michael Wehbe and his wife, Ishaya El Khoury the Lebanese ambassador, Dr. Omar Zniber, the ambassador of Morocco, the Palestinian ambassador and his wife, the UNRWA Commissioner-General Karen Koning AbuZayed, the Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, the Palestinian 000_0907Minister of foreign affairs Dr. Riyad al-Malki, member of the city parliament Dr. Omar Al-Rawi, the organizers and the supporter of the concert, the Secretary General of Saar Fritz Edlinger, the Director-General of the OPEC Fund for International Development (OFID), Dr. Suleiman Al-Herbish and his wife, and many other Austrian politicians and prominent individuals, many members of the Palestinian and Arab colony, ambassadors of other countries, and some Jews from pro-Israel and pro-Palestine movements. Among them the representative of the Jewish student union at the University of Vienna. The pro-Israelis attended the concert for unknown reasons. Who knows, perhaps they were sent by the Israeli Embassy to see if they would be able to find any pretext to raise a stink.

Politicians During the Concert

At the beginning of the concert, Salam Fayyad gave a speech thanking the 000_0637organizers and the Austrian government for the invitation. He also thanked the Lebanese singer Marcel Khalife for the concert, and briefed about Palestine. Fayyad, well known as a person who seldom smiles, was very friendly among the attendants, smiling, applauding, and singing together with Marcel Khalife. I left my camera to sit next to Fayyad on the floor. I told him that I criticized his government, that I want the best for my people, the Palestinians. Fayyad smiled and said God bless you. He wrote me his e-mail address. After the concert I gave Fayyad a goodbye kisses. My husband commented on that and said: “You are fighting against the policies of Fayyad and when you met him you forget everything and you talk with him like to a friend. What is this? I thought that you would never shake hands with him. I don’t understand you Palestinians!”

000_0882aDr. Andreas Mailath-Pokorny from the city of Vienna gave a speech welcoming Prime Minister Fayyad, the musicians and all the attendants, and wished everybody a happy evening and stay. Dr. Mailath-Pokorny stayed  with the audience until the end of the concert, listening to the music of Khalife and applauding him. There was a translation to German for some of the songs in Arabic.

Khalife’s concert was organized by the Society for Austro-Arab Relations (Saar) 000_0470in coordination with OPEC, the municipality of Vienna, the Federal Ministry of Education and Culture of Austria, and several other Austrian organizations. OFID supported the event with 75.000,- Euros!! The contributions towards financing the concert were over  130.000,- Euros, the tickets were sold for 25 to 50 EUR, the audience reached around 700, more or less. Acording to my information, EUR 65.000,- were paid to Khalife and his Al Mayadeen ensemble. This was a very high contribution, which the Palestinians who live in disaster in Gaza have not received from the very same organizations which financed the concert, according to many among the attendants to the concert.

We are very happy to hear Marcel Khalife, we love to hear his songs, his words, 000_0792ahis Oud music, and we love him too, but we are in shock at the double standards of the financer of Khalife’s concert!! Where were the very same people during the last massacre in Gaza? Other people wondered and asked me: “Who invited the Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad and his Foreign Minister Riyad Al-Malki, and why were they invited”? They said to me that they found it strange that the people who invited these PA officials were the same people who had described these PA officials as traitors in the media!

A person told me that they intended to invite Marcel Khalife for a concert in 000_0898aVienna, and that they had changed their opinion after Khalife demanded for EUR 10.000 as the price for a concert. This person told me “we found that EUR 10.000 was  too high price and we refused”. They described the high contributions paid for the concert as kind of corruption, saying that among the organizers were people who are fond off exhibitionism before the media, but that even the media forgot and ignored them after the concert had ended”.

Others commented positively on the concert, and described it as a positive 000_0913development which helps to raise the voice of Palestine in Vienna. “We need the Austrians to hear our political voice in another way, in a way which they understand, we tried to raise our voice before the Austrian public in various political ways, but we were always ignored. And this concert helped us to achieve our goals”.

“I love music, all kinds of music. I am not political, I just attended the concert to hear music, I don’t care about Palestine, I don’t care about anything else” said an Austrian attendant”.

Some journalists left the concert before the end. According to one of them, an Austrian woman demanded him to stop photographing and filming. She claimed that Marcel Khalife had asked her to do that. The Austrian media ignored the event, even the journalists who were invited personally by the organizers to share the reception with Khalife at the Rathaus of Vienna did not report anything about the concert. During a search through Google, there were some short notes on ORF, and some blogs posted some information about the concert. All news about the concert was posted as commercial announcements by ticket agencies.

Where are the Palestinian and Arab Women????

A strong criticism against the organizer who nominated the people concert (168)who were invited to a reception with Marcel Khalife, at the Rathaus after the concert. The organizer of this reception ignored the Arab and Palestinian women, journalists and political activists in his list which was sent to the Rathaus and to the house of the President.

This organizer of this reception was an Austrian person from the SPÖ party, who nominated some of his personal friends and beneficiaries to both meetings. It is shame on him the clear ignorance towards Palestinian and Arab women. It is shame on him to present his personal friends as representatives of the 000_0879Palestinian and Arab community. It is time to raise our protest before the Austrian society. In Austria, the rights of women are privileged, and the continued ignorance of the Arab and Palestinian women in Austria during the meeting in the Rathaus is an affront and against the Austrian laws and customs, where women are respected equal to men, not only before law. Why should Austrian politicians exclude the women from events just to make happy some chauvinists who exclude their own women from every walk of life with force? I will send a request to the  Major of Vienna and to the president of the Austrian Parliament concerning this farce of ignoring the real activists among Arab and Palestinian women, and there are some.

2 comments to Marcel Khalife Concert – Between Support and Opposition

  • Salaam al-Maseeh

    Assalaamu alaykum, Ms. Salam,

    It appears that concerts do not have the impact they had five years ago. I am glad that you point out the continuing hypocrisy going on. Still it is good if people hear about Palestine from a concert, but not if they ignore it. Your articles are much more direct than that, and I think an excellent way of telling people about what they really need to know. Thank you as always for the excellent reporting.

    BarakAllah fiik,

    Steve in Vista

  • Suzana Ahmad

    Despite my admiration for the great artist Marcel Khalifa, I was shocked when I heard that the cost of the concert exceeded EUR 130.000,- and that Khalifa received the EUR 65.000,-. I know that Khalife is a great artist, but I am sure that the price which was paid for him, he would never have received from other people. For example, Khalife made a concert in a simple Tunisian restaurant in Vienna, and he participated in the Oud Festival of Fajao, and I am sure that the Tunisian restaurant and Fajao did not pay him the same price which he received from the Rathaus concert.

    I wonder why the organizers paid this high price for Khalife, and what benefit the Palestinians who suffer the shortage of food received from this concert?

    رغم إعجابى الشديد بالفنان مارسيل خليفة إلا أننى أصبت بصدمة كبيرة حين علمت أن تكلفة الحفل قد تعدت ال 130000 يورو حصل منها الفنان خليفة على 65000 كأتعاب وبالتأكيد أن الفنان خليفة فنان كبير لكن المؤكد أنه لم يحصل على هذا المبلغ ربما فى أى مكان من قبل فقد سبق وأن أقام حفلا فى أحد المطاعم التونسية المتواضعه نسبيا وأيضا شارك بمهرجان عازفى العود بفاخاو ومن المستبعد جدا أن يكون المطعم التونسى أو الهيئه المسؤلة عن مهرجان فاخاو قد دفعت مايقرب بأى شكل من هذا المبلغ وقد كان ذلك من فترة قريبة
    وحتى لو إفترضنا أن الفنان طلب المنظمون بهذه الأتعاب الم يكن فى إستطاعتهم الرفض وإحضار فنان آخر وموازنة التكلفة بالدخل الذى كان مفترضا

    ولو إفترضنا أن 700 شخص وهم كل الحاضرين قد دفعوا 50 يورو بالتذكرة فيكون المجموع 35000 يورو فماذا إستفاد شعب فلسطين الذى تنقصه المواد الغذائية الأساسية من هذا الحفل

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