First part of a series for BBC Newsnight – some Palestinian kids and their first trip out of Gaza, to compete in ‘Arab’s Got Talent.’The show is much the same as its British counterpart, only with competitors from Syria, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and incredibly, Gaza – where just getting across the border takes huge amounts of persistence, will power, and organisational wrangling.
All the kids were affected by the recent conflict. The father of Ahmad, the singer, had his knee blown away by shrapnel while trying to rescue cattle from his farm during a bombardment. Mahmoud, the youngest of the group, talked to us about his secret hopes to have been killed during the shelling. Seraj, an academic whose father was a member Hamas’ rival party, Fatah, spoke about his house that was ‘buried’ during the bombing.
All the kids lost people they knew and saw scenes of unimaginable destruction and violence. The group reached Cairo and was held for three days at the airport, sleeping on the floor without food or water, as the Egyptians questioned their paperwork.
They arrived at the MBC studios the same morning as they had to perform, without having slept, with around two hours until they were on stage. Just like me, they were full of nerves for their performance. What happened next I could have never guessed.