'Song for Gaza' captures hearts of YouTube viewers

Written and performed by Los Angeles-based singer-songwriter Michael Heart, nearly half a million people have viewed "We Will Not Go Down (Song for Gaza)."

song for gaza 248.88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
song for gaza 248.88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
While there have been countless efforts to utilize new media to state Israel's case to the world during Operation Cast Lead, a folk-pop song that describes the suffering of the Palestinian population of Gaza has become a rallying cry for anti-Israel protesters around the world. Written and performed by Los Angeles-based singer-songwriter Michael Heart, "We Will Not Go Down (Song for Gaza)" has been viewed on YouTube by nearly half a million people and has been sung and heard at various rallies against Israel. The bittersweet acoustic tune contains the lyrics "You can burn up our mosques and our homes and our schools/ But our spirit will never die," and "Women and children alike/ Murdered and massacred night after night." The photographs accompanying the clip illustrate the destruction to property and life in Gaza caused by the Israeli operation. The song has been played regularly on Jordan's English-language music radio station, Mood 92. On his Web site, Heart wrote that he was overwhelmed by the response to the song, which is available as a free MP3 download. "I would like to request that after downloading the song from this page, you kindly donate directly to a charity or an organization dedicated to alleviate the suffering of the Palestinian people," he said on the site. "I am grateful for every demonstration of support I have received from you, and for every thought and prayer that has gone to the people of Gaza." Last week, during a candlelight vigil organized by students at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, "We Will Not Go Down (Song for Gaza)" was sung by the protesters, according to anti-war Web site Fightback.org. According to his biography on the Web site, Heart was born in Syria and raised in Europe, the Middle East and the US. Since 1990, he's been living in Los Angeles, working as a session guitarist and a recording engineer before releasing his debut album, Unsolicited Material, last year. Heart has not been known to have previously recorded any pro-Palestinian songs. Chat groups and blogs have been full of support for the song and its sentiments, which neglect to mention the suffering of the southern residents of Israel over eight years of being on the receiving end of Kassam attacks - a point raised by one of the talkbacks on a chat group. "I am an Israeli peace activist. Many Israelis such as me have opposed the operation in Gaza since its beginnings… However, I believe the message in your song and video 'We will not go Down' is inaccurate and incomplete," the talkback said. "The message of brave people fighting who will not give up is very moving and heroic, but in truth the people who are really saying 'We will not go down in Gaza' are Hamas, and they are doing it at the expense of the civilians there," the post continued. "The civilians - whom I totally agree are being unjustly killed - are not taking part in the fighting, but their schools, homes and mosques are being unjustly used by Hamas to serve as hiding places for their weapons and militants, as well as rocket launching sites from which Hamas shoots at Israeli civilians." The talkback called on Heart "to use your talent and write another song calling for peace in this troubled area of the world, rather than glorifying defiance on the part of a terrorist organization that does not represent the Palestinian people. You would do well to put such a song against the background of a video clip showing both the misery in Gaza and rocket attacks on southern Israel, and use it to call for peace, for something better for all of us."