Rapper Macklemore Criticizes Biden, Police And Music Industry In New Song Supporting Pro-Palestinian Student Protests

Rapper Macklemore, seen here performing during the “Ben Tour” in Wisconsin last year, is praising college students across the US who are protesting Israel’s war in Gaza. (Daniel DeSlover/Sipa USA/File via CNN Newsource)

By Scottie Andrew, CNN

(CNN) — In a surprise new song, rapper Macklemore praises college students across the US who are protesting Israel’s war in Gaza, vowing that he will not vote for President Joe Biden come November.

The song, released Monday, is titled “Hind’s Hall” in reference to the new temporary name pro-Palestinian protesters at Columbia University gave to a building they occupied on campus.

With its release, the Grammy-winning rapper becomes one of the first major music artists to explicitly condemn the US government’s continued aid to Israel and praise students who are protesting their universities’ financial investments in companies tied to Israel on campuses across the US.

“The problem isn’t the protests, it’s what they’re protesting,” Macklemore raps. “It goes against what our country is funding.”

Macklemore echoes the sentiments of pro-Palestinian protesters who say they’ll refuse to vote for Biden in the presidential election this year due to his continued support of Israel. There has been concern among Democrats that losing support among young voters frustrated with Biden’s handling of the war may cost him the election and see former President Donald Trump return to office.

The song also criticizes the police dispatched by universities to break up protests on college campuses. Several of the schools who called on police to intervene said its encampments were unlawful and that administrators had attempted to negotiate with student protesters before police got involved. When protesters refused to move at the University of California Los Angeles, police appeared to use rubber bullets against them. At the University of Arizona, law enforcement used pepper balls and rubber bullets on protesters.

Across the US, pro-Palestinian protesters have been occupying lawns and buildings on campuses, and many are requesting that their universities divest from Israel. Several protesters’ encampments have been raided by police, resulting in more than 2,300 arrests at schools across the country.

Many of those arrested at university protests were students, some of whom have been banned from their campuses and face expulsion.

Some of these campus demonstrations have inspired large counterprotests in support of Israel.

The significance of the title ‘Hind’s Hall’

Hind’s Hall, the name pro-Palestinian protesters gave to Columbia’s Hamilton Hall, was named for the Palestinian child Hind Rajab, who was found dead in Gaza after she became trapped in a car with six of her relatives.

They were fleeing fighting in northern Gaza when their vehicle came under Israeli fire, CNN previously reported. Hind and everyone else in the vehicle, including her uncle’s four children, were killed, along with two ambulance workers dispatched to rescue them.

Macklemore’s lyrics reference the more than 13,800 children who’ve been killed in Gaza since the beginning of the war. The song asks listeners, as well as politicians, university officials and fellow artists who’ve not spoken out against the violence in Gaza, to consider the human cost of the war: “What if you were in Gaza? What if those were your kids? If the West was pretending that you didn’t exist?”

Macklemore calls the music industry complicit and says he supports a ‘free Palestine’

In “Hind’s Hall,” Macklemore accuses the music industry of being “complicit in (its) platform of silence,” he sings.

He’s likely the only major artist to write a song about the conflict. Several notable musicians have signed onto the Artists 4Ceasefire letter addressed to Biden, though, including Dua Lipa, Jon Batiste and Selena Gomez. Scottish singer Annie Lennox also verbally called for a ceasefire while performing at the Grammys in February.

Macklemore has said through his social media channels that when the song is released on streaming, all the proceeds will go to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees.

Macklemore has been an outspoken supporter of Palestinians since last year. Less than two weeks after the October 7 attack on southern Israel led by Hamas, which saw the deaths of at least 1,200 people and the taking of more than 250 hostages, he shared a post in which he mourned the loss of life in both Israel and Gaza.

“My heart deeply hurts for the Israelis that lost loved ones to such an abomination,” he wrote of the October 7 attack. ”… But killing innocent humans in retaliation as collective punishment is not the answer. That is why I am supporting the people around the world who are calling for a ceasefire.”

Later in the post, he wrote, “I stand for a Free Palestine and an end to the looming genocide of its people.”

In the same post, he referenced the controversial claim that criticizing the Israeli government is antisemitic. “I can whole heartedly (sic) love my Jewish brothers and sisters while simultaneously condemning the Israeli government for their mass killings and Apartheid.”

Macklemore also appeared at a pro-Palestinian march in Washington in November. In an Instagram post shared after the event, he said that he was heartened by “Jewish and Muslim youth marching side by side, belting words of resistance together.”

Macklemore has faced accusations of antisemitism before. In 2014, he wore what he called a “random costume” of a large fake nose and thick black beard to surprise Seattle concertgoers. Several detractors, including Seth Rogen, called his costume antisemitic, prompting Macklemore to “acknowledge how the costume could, within a context of stereotyping, be ascribed to a Jewish caricature.”

The rapper has made political statements throughout his career. He was nominated for a Grammy for the 2012 song “Same Love,” which advocated for LGBTQ equality and support for same-sex marriage. In 2016, he appeared on a remix of the YG song “FDT, Pt. 2,” which stands for “F**k Donald Trump.”

Macklemore continued to speak out against Trump after he entered office. And protesters on college campuses are still speaking out against the war on Gaza, even after some universities canceled or altered commencements and have already disciplined fellow student protesters.

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