Michigan musician's song on Middle East Conflict

Political leaders, Law Enforcement and school leaders continue to get a better handle on the number of large number of protesters at college campuses across the country as the situation in the Middle East continues to escalate.

As the events continue to unfold, a Detroit area musician is connected to both sides of the conflict. Nadim Azzam's unique background means he's connected to both Jewish and Arab communities – and he used that to record a new song to hopefully bridge the conversation for many people.

Born in the serene landscape of Vermont and raised in the cultural melting pot of Ann Arbor, the journey of musician Azzam has been interesting. His mother is a Jewish American retired professor with Ukrainian roots while his father is an Egyptian Palestinian and a long-time human rights activist.

"Something I can’t escape from. But I realize I’m born into a position to be an example of peace," Azzam said.

The musician tells FOX 2's Josh Landon he has worked to maintain balance in his life to be fair and honest – but it hasn't been easy.

"There’s always people who want to pick a side who are angry and upset and rightfully so. I live in America. I’m not having my kids bombed, and then having someone come to me and say be peaceful. I’m not sitting in a situation without human rights being told to wait. And I’m not in the position of an Israeli who most of them disagree with their government and sitting there also held hostage by this situation. And have this resentment and fear," Azzam said.

That motivated Azzam's latest recording Letters from Deir Yassin – to highlight some of the current events in the Middle East. Derin Yassin is a village near Jerusalem that witnessed the horrors of conflict in 1948.

During that conflict, 100 Palestinians – including women and children – were killed in an attack on the village. 

"Because of the war, everything getting lost in battle, the Palestinians never got their side of the deal. They never got a state, they never got rights, they never got any of the things that were promised to them. They were basically (like) you lost the war now…you have no home," Azzam said. "This isn’t new. A lot of us have woken up to this situation. But nothing started on October 7th. This has been around for at least a century."

Azzam feels, that because of his background, he can empathize with both sides of the battle.

"From the Israeli perspective, they feel like they’re defending themselves. They feel like they’re surrounded by enemies. They feel everyone hates them. I have family on my Jewish side. I have family in mass graves in Ukraine. They’re fleeing real persecution. I have the benefit and the curse of not being able to pick a side," Azzam said.

He warns against using terminology as blanket statements.

"I’m willing to use the word genocide or ethnic cleansing. I think if we look at the technical definitions under international law, it falls there. I understand the other argument compared to other genocides where the goal is to eradicate a people entirely. Maybe some people in Israel feel this is not that. But at the end of the day, I think we get lost in terminology," he said.

Azzam recently performed at the Michigan Music Video Awards where he earned the honor of Audience Choice Award.

"It was the only time I played that song and I couldn’t get through it without crying. For me, it was the highlight of my life. As an artist and a writer, I made a piece of art that’s more important than myself," Azzam said.

You can hear Azzam's music at https://nadimmusic.com/ and all social media platforms.

He's currently on tour serving as the opening act for well-renowned musicians Joe and Tamia and w will also serve as the opening act for Robert Glasper & Yebba at the Aretha Franklin Amphitheater on June 21st in Detroit.