Controversial Song Takedown: Did Spotify and Apple Music Really Silence Palestinian Anthem 'Dammi Falastini'?
Middle East and Human Rights Researcher
Global Human Rights Defence
The song “Ana Dammi Falastini” (“My Blood is Palestinian”) has been removed from major audio streaming platforms including Spotify and Apple Music, evoking controversy. Ana Dammi Falastini is a treasured song by Palestinian singer Mohammed Assaf that highlights the pride and honour of being Palestinian.  After gathering 4,000 signatures, a petition organised by Israeli activists led to the removal of the song.  Assaf was then notified via email that the song’s removal was attributed to allegations of anti-semitism.  It is unclear how Spotify and Apple Music concluded that a song that highlights the heritage and identity of Palestinians is considered a form of anti-semitism. The removal of this song is indicative of the hostility towards freedom and justice for Palestinians.
The removal of Assaf’s patriotic song is perceived as a demonstration of continuous censorship of Palestinian content by international media organisations. The song focused on Palestinian nationalism, did not mention Israel, nor did it promote violence. Therefore, the removal of this song reinforces the notion that this act of censorship contributes to a wider agenda aimed at erasing the voices and identity of Palestinians online, thus infringing upon their fundamental right of freedom of expression.  Unfortunately this is not the first time the Palestinian singer has received hostility. An Israeli Likud Party member of parliament declared in 2020 that Israel was actively trying to bar Assaf from entering the occupied Palestinian territories. However, despite these efforts, he was appointed as a peace ambassador by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA), granting him a permit to enter the West Bank. His appointment as a peace ambassador highlights the recognition of his efforts towards peace and justice. 
The removal of Assaf’s song Ana Dammi Falastini that celebrates and honours Palestinian culture, highlights the hostility towards peace, freedom and justice for Palestinians. This incident raises concerns regarding erasing Palestinian voices and identity online. This, coupled with previous hostility towards Assaf, emphasises the need for continued efforts to protect the human rights of Palestinians.
Sources and further reading:
 Middle East Eye ‘Removal of Palestinian song from streaming platforms stirs debate’ (22 May 2023) <https://www.middleeasteye.net/discover/palestine-song-spotify-mohammed-assaf> accessed 22 May 2023.
 Middle East Monitor ‘Spotify and Apple Music delete Palestine song ‘Dammi Falastini’ following accusations of anti-Semitism’ (22 May 2023) <https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20230522-spotify-and-apple-music-delete-palestine-song-dammi-falastini-following-accusations-of-anti-semitism/> accessed 22 May 2023.
 MM News ‘My Blood is Palestinian: Did Spotify really remove Palestinian song Dammi Falastini’ (23 May 2023) <https://mmnews.tv/my-blood-is-palestinian-did-spotify-really-remove-palestinian-song-dammi-falastini/> accessed 23 May 2023.
 The New Arab ‘Israel to ban much-loved singer Mohammed Assaf from entering Palestinian territories’ (16 October 2020) <https://www.newarab.com/news/israel-ban-much-loved-singer-entering-palestinian-territories> accessed 20 May 2023.