Preserving A Palestinian Cassette Tape Collection

by Momin Switat in Palestine

We did it
On 30th August 2023 we successfully raised £9,182 with 214 supporters in 28 days

Preserving more than 10,000 endangered Palestinian cassettes which are at risk of being destroyed or lost forever

by Momin Switat in Palestine

 New stretch target

Restoration of Palestinian cassettes and repairing two vintage Sony cassette duplication machines which will transform the archival process.

During the first COVID lockdown, I found myself stuck in Palestine for about eight months, unable to return to UK. Since 2012, I had not spent that much time in my family home in Jenin in the northern of the West Bank. The experience was hard, bittersweet, healing, and nostalgic. Wandering around flea markets and familiar old shops, I rediscovered Tariq Cassettes, a little music shop that was popular when I was growing up. It was right next to my school, so after the bell rang, we used to wait in line to spend our pocket money and buy new tapes for five shekels. The man who ran it was my grandmother’s neighbor, so I knew his face well. I saw that the shop was shuttered, so I knocked on the owner’s door and asked whether he still had any tapes for sale.

Tariq took me to his archive and began talking me through his collection, which was covered by a thick layer of dust. He had mainly Arabic pop, funk, jazz, and soul from Palestine, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Egypt, Tunisia, and Morocco, as well as Yemeni-Jewish and Iraqi-Jewish tapes. Walking through the genres with me, he gave me some background and helped me put them into context. I was overawed by what I’d stumbled across. The tapes felt like such a vital part of Palestinian and Arab cultural history and heritage, now unloved and nearly forgotten. I bought a large part of the archive on the spot. It was a big haul which changed the direction of my life, and I’ve spent the last few years archiving the collection.

Going through the cassettes, I have come across many rare Bedouin field recordings that have inspired so much of the Palestinian wedding music genre. These include a lot of field recorded improvised spoken word put to electronic music (including albums made by some of my family members) which are not only great dance tracks but are such an important part of our history and culture as a marginalized community. I come from a long line of Bedouin musicians, so I’ve always known how important it was to preserve our sound, poetry and folklore from generation to generation.

Some of the other tapes I bought in bulk were anything produced during the First and Second Intifadas. Given that I was born during the first Intifada, and having come of age during the second, these were the soundtracks of my youth. I found albums like the Palestinian Black Panthers’ Mixtape - rare field recordings of young resistance fighters singing songs inspired by martyred friends whilst training in the forests of Jenin. And of course Riad Awwad’s The Intifada 1987, which was the first album I released as part of Majazz Project, the record label and research platform I set up to help restore and preserve this archive by working collaboratively with the original recording artists to bring their music to a new generation of Palestinian and other listeners.

I’ve recently discovered that Tariq of Tariq Cassettes is planning to sell the shop. He cannot store the archival collection in Jenin camp, as he’s worried that another assault on Jenin (like happened last month) could mean the entire archive being destroyed overnight, if the building is bombed or bulldozed.

This material, which is such an important part of our history as Palestinians, is critically endangered so I’m appealing to you now to contribute - if you can - to help me to continue building the Majazz Project archive, storing this extraordinary collection and preserving it for generations to come.

So much of our archive since 1948 has been looted and destroyed. So many of our cultural institutions now lie shuttered or ruined. This is my appeal to you to help play a part in keeping our beautiful musical heritage - in all its diversity - alive, and making it accessible to people all over the world who can be inspired these albums, and the stories of the bands, poets and musicians who created them.

If you can’t donate to help me preserve the collection please consider sharing this link. I’m so very grateful and humbled by your support so far and thanks in advance for reading. 



This project offers rewards in return for your donation. Please select a reward below.

£20 or more

78 of 200 claimed

Two albums from the Majazz Archive

You will get a digital mp3 download of two cassettes from the Majazz Project archive

£50 or more

12 of 100 claimed

Five albums from the Majazz archive

You will get a download code for five amazing albums from the Majazz Project archive, including digital version of reissued Palestinian vinyl.

£100 or more

34 of 100 claimed

Palestinian Reissued Vinyl and an original print

A limited edition collectible Palestinian reissued vinyl LP, original print and download links to albums from the Majazz archive

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