Saturday, March 6, 2010

Israel/Palestine Conflict in Music

Many Palestinian activists have made March 1st the start of "Israel Apartheid Week." Some critics of Israel's military occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem (along with horror regarding the siege of Gaza) are often uncomfortable referring to Israel as an Apartheid government. At times the South African Apartheid era is compared to what takes place within Israel against its non-Jewish citizens. However the comparison holds up, it is hard to argue that the Israeli government does not discriminate based on racial/ethnic/religious lines.

Interestingly, Israeli society produces cultural fusions that get played out in the conflict in unexpected ways. Israeli musicians consist of Jewish and Arab artists that can articulate their politcal concerns in Hebrew and Arabic. At times Jewish Israeli rappers use Arabic and Arab Israeli rappers use Hebrew. The Palestinian-Israeli hip hop artists from the group DAM grew up in Israel's town of Lod. DAM rapper Mahmoud Jreri addressed the irony of Israeli Arab life when he stated in an interview, "I speak better Hebrew than most Israelis and they [the Jewish Israeli right-wing] call to kick me out and we are native people." Jewish Israeli rapper Subliminal is known for ultra-nationalist lyrics and his total commitment to Jewish causes. He views Israel as a safe haven for Jews and feels they are under an existential threat from internal terrorism and hostile neighbors.

I am putting up two video's that are accompanied by English subtitles: One from DAM and the other from Subliminal. Both use a mixture of Hebrew and Arabic. DAM's piece is titled "Born Here" written in Hebrew and Subliminal's is "My Land/Country" writtin in Arabic. These songs are mainly in the Hebrew language.

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