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US rapper Macklemore releases pro-Palestine track slamming Biden and lauding protesters

The widely praised 'Hind's Hall' also rails against censorship on social media, pro-Israel lobby groups and calls for a ceasefire in Gaza
Macklemore performs live at Alcatraz in Milano, Italy, on 4 May 2023 (Mairo Cinquetti/NurPhoto via Reuters)

Social media users have heaped praise on Grammy Award-winning rapper Macklemore after his latest song took aim at US President Joe Biden and the American political establishment over their unwavering support for Israel

"The blood is on your hands, Biden, we can see it all," the US rapper said in "Hind’s Hall," a track released late on Monday as Israel escalated its devastating assault on Gaza.

"What is threatenin’ about divesting and wantin' peace?," Macklemore, whose real name is Benjamin Hammond Haggerty, said in the track, referring to calls on US campuses to divest from Israel and end potential complicity in Israel's ongoing war on Gaza.

"The problem isn't the protests / it's what they're protestin' / It goes against what our country is fundin'."

The song, released on Macklemore's Instagram account, sampled iconic Lebanese artist Fairuz and praises the pro-Palestine protesters that have set up encampments across dozens of college and university campuses during recent weeks, while facing violent crackdowns from police.

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The track was released alongside a video featuring shots of armed officers forcibly dismantling and arresting the peaceful protesters on US campuses.

Clips of American politicians and corporations are interspersed with scenes from the devastation in Gaza and the ongoing Israeli assault.

The title, Hind's Hall, is a reference to Columbia University’s Hamilton Hall, which pro-Palestine protesters had occupied and renamed after Hind Rajab, a five-year-old child who was killed by Israel in January.

Hind was trapped in a car with her killed family members and surrounded by Israeli tanks nearby. After calling the Palestinian Red Crescent, Hind was killed as the Israeli military bombed the ambulance that was on its way to rescue her metres away.

Paramedics Yousef Zeino and Ahmed al-Madhoun were also killed in the strike.

Widespread praise

The song has been viewed over 19.8 million times on Instagram and clocked more than 10 million views on X, formerly Twitter at the time of publication.

"This is very powerful. Thank you for creating this," US Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein wrote on X.

Other users praised Macklemore for calling out celebrities and artists who are not speaking up on the war in Gaza, which has killed nearly 35,000 Palestinians, mostly women and children.

"Macklemore did it all here, honestly," said one user. “Called out celebs and rappers for not speaking up. Told people to follow the BDS [Boycott, Divestment Sanctions movement]. Said he wouldn't vote for Biden. Put the power on the students."

Tom Morello, formerly of Rage Against The Machine, also hailed the song and said it was "the most Rage Against The Machine song since Rage Against The Machine".

The group's lead single from their 1992 self-titled album was written in protest against US police brutality following the beating of Rodney King and the 1992 Los Angeles riots.

Others highlighted Macklemore's lyrics - "History been repeating for the last seventy-five / The Nakba never ended, the coloniser lied”  - that reference the Nakba, the ethnic cleansing of Palestine in 1948 to make way for the establishment of Israel, and allusion to Israel as a colonising power.

Some social media users were quick to draw comparisons with Palestinian-American DJ and record producer, DJ Khaled, who has been criticised for his silence on the ongoing war in Gaza.

"A white rapper did more for us than DJ Khaled ever did," posted one user.

In the clip, Macklemore also called out corporations, taking shots at McDonalds and Starbucks, which have seen community-led boycotts over perceived pro-Israel stances.

He also slams Washington's moves to ban the TikTok app - the timing of which has been questioned by activists and journalists who say it is being pushed by pro-Israel lawmakers and comes amid reports of increased pro-Palestinian sentiment on the app.

"You can ban Tiktok / take us out the algorithm / But it's too late / we've seen the truth," Macklemore said.

Increasing discontent 

Macklemore also posted on social media that all proceeds from the song once it begins streaming will go towards the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (Unrwa), the main aid provider in Gaza.

Sixteen donor states paused their funding to Unrwa after the Israeli government claimed, without providing evidence, that some of the agency’s staff members belonged to Hamas and participated in the Hamas-led attacks on 7 October. 

Since then, several countries, including Germany, Australia and Canada, have lifted those suspensions, citing a lack of evidence. 

Macklemore's track comes amid increasing frustration among staffers within the Biden administration and US voters alike at the president's handling of the war, with a number of staff resignations and reports of internal dissent

In November, more than 1,000 officials at USAID, the State Department's international aid organisation, signed an open letter calling for an immediate ceasefire. 

Experts also say the surge of "uncommitted" voters in the Democratic primaries is sending Biden a message that his administration’s policy on Gaza will cost him ahead of the 2024 presidential election in November.

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