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The man who founded the first rock band in Gaza talks about his hopes for the future

LEILA FADEL, HOST:

We've been speaking to Palestinians about their vision for a post-war Gaza. Today is the last in our series of conversations, and we hear from the man who founded the first rock band in Gaza, Osprey V. Raji El-Jaru also helped cultivate a thriving creative hub out of his music store. All that is abandoned now. He and his family fled south to try and find safety. Using a foreign eSIM and standing on a ladder, he got enough reception to call us. In the midst of war, he spoke about his hopes for the future.

RAJI EL-JARU: As Osprey, we say we are the voice of the voiceless or we are the tongue of the unheard, because there's a lot of stories that you've never seen and you'll never see in the media but we will highlight as the storytellers.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "HOME")

OSPREY V: (Singing) Destroy every brick of every wall.

FADEL: The whole world is talking about, well, what happens to Gaza when this war is over, and who governs Gaza? And you wrote a song called "Home," and in the song you wrote, this land is my home. The world is my home.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "HOME")

OSPREY V: (Singing) This universe is my home.

FADEL: So I want to ask you - you're 31. You're Palestinian. You live in Gaza. You were building a music scene that didn't exist. So when you think of a Gaza after this war, what does that Gaza look like?

EL-JARU: Gaza is basically like a phoenix. It never dies, even if you destroy everything within. We have strong faith. We have strong passion. We have strong passion to live. We called our band Osprey. You do know the osprey - it's the kind of the eagle, right? One of the birds - it has a lot of pride. It lives in the hardest circumstances. The stereotyping about the Gazan people being poor, stupid and illiterate and stuff like that is super false. The people of Gaza are more like me, more like people that are talking to you right now, more like our music. We are here to participate in our humanity. We're here to participate in being human. This is why we say in "Home," this land is my home, but it's not only the land. It's the dream. It's the broken dream. It's the broken stories.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "HOME")

OSPREY V: (Singing) Every broken heart is home sweet home.

EL-JARU: It's the walls. Even after all of this destruction that you see in the beginning of the song, we rebuild it again. We'll revive again. And Gaza will stand still, resilient.

FADEL: You're part of Gaza's culture. Like we talked about, you are building this music scene with other people. I mean, losing all of that - what does that mean for the future of culture in Gaza?

EL-JARU: We're really trying so hard, actually, to get out of Gaza right now. Not because we hate Gaza - we love Gaza the most. But after this war and being logical, we worked so hard, like for 10 years, to build this scene. And even after we lost everything in here, I don't think I can restart again, especially with the band. I'm 31 right now. I'm not going to start again and just like, OK, build another place and go - no, the safest way is actually to go travel, take this production to the next level and deliver it to the max.

FADEL: So then what does that mean for the future of Gaza if you guys go out and other young, smart, entrepreneurial people like you leave Gaza?

EL-JARU: The influence we made in Gaza is not something that is based on the person himself being there. It's an idea that we got into the minds of the people here. We're making a legacy. This place is going to flourish. You're going to see other bands than Osprey. We're going to support other bands than Osprey to spread the message and to talk about that. Even if we traveled to facilitate for other people in Gaza here and to facilitate for ourselves as well. The idea is an idea, and it grows up, and it's going to get bigger and bigger and bigger by the time.

FADEL: That's Raji El-Jaru, a musician and co-founder of the rock band Osprey V. Thank you for your time.

EL-JARU: Thank you so much, Leila.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "HOME")

OSPREY V: (Singing) This land is my... Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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