A Rap Song Eliminates Israel’s Jewish-Arab Breakdown – And Goes Viral

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BEIT YEHOSHUA, Israel — Uriya Rosenman grew up on Israeli military bases and served as an officer in an elite army unit. His father was a fighter pilot. His grandfather led the paratroopers that captured the Wailing Wall from Jordan in 1967.

Sameh Zakout, a Palestinian Israeli citizen, grew up in the mixed Arab-Jewish town of Ramla. His family was driven from his home in the 1948 Israeli war of independence, known to the Palestinians as the “Nakba” or catastrophe. Most of his relatives fled to Gaza.

Two people facing each other in a garage on a small plastic table are in a rap video that has gone viral, throwing ethnic insults and stereotypes at each other, tearing off the veneer of kindness over the boiling resentments between the Jewish state and the Palestinian minority. Israel.

Video, “Let’s Talk Right” It couldn’t have landed at a more opportune time after the outbreak of Jewish-Arab violence two months ago, which has seen more than four million views on social media since May and has turned many mixed Israeli cities, such as Lod and Ramla, into Judeo-Arab. battlefields.

Mr. Rosenman and Mr. Zakout have produced a piece that dares listeners to transcend stereotypes and explore their shared humanity, while shouting the prejudices of both sides at each other, sometimes on the verge of violence.

Mr. Rosenman, 31, says he wants to change Israel from within, challenging his most basic reflexes. “I think we are afraid and controlled by fear,” she says.

Mr. Zakout, 37, wants to change Israel by overcoming the traumas of his ancestors. “I don’t emphasize my Palestinian identity,” he says. “I’m a human. Period. We are human first.”

At first glance, the video looks like nothing more than a humanistic enterprise.

Mr. Rosenman, who speaks first, begins a relentless three-minute anti-Palestinian tirade.

“Don’t cry for racism. Stop whining. You live in clans, you shoot rifles at weddings,” she mocks, her body tense. “Treat your animals, steal cars, beat your own women. All you care about is Allah, the Nakba, jihad, and honor that controls your impulses.”

The camera surrounds them. A guitar screams.

Mr. Zakout tugs at his beard, looks away disdainfully. He’d heard it all before, including the oft-repeated line: “I’m not a racist, I’m an Arab gardener.”

Raising his voice afterwards, Mr. Zakout tells the other side of the most difficult story in Middle Eastern stories.

“Enough,” he says. “I’m a Palestinian and that’s all, so shut up. I do not support terrorism, I am against violence, but 70 years of occupation – of course there will be resistance. When you barbecue and celebrate independence, the Nakba is my grandma’s truth. You fired my family in 1948, when you broke into our homes and invaded and then denied it the food was still hot on the table. You don’t know Arabic, you don’t know anything about your neighbor, you don’t want us to live next to you, but we build your houses.”

Mr. Rosenman fidgets. His assertive self-confidence evaporates as he glides through the mirror of Arab-Jewish ignorance.

The video pays homage to Joyner Lucas. “I am not racist,” A similar exploration of stereotypes and blindness locked in the Black-and-white break in the United States.

An educator whose job it is to explain the conflict to young Israeli soldiers, Mr. Rosenman was increasingly frustrated with “how things are built on rotten foundations by justifying past traumas for Jews.”

“Some things about my country are surprising and pure,” he said in an interview. “Some are very rotten. They are indisputable. We are motivated by trauma. We are a post-traumatic society. The Holocaust gives us a kind of backtrack legitimacy for not planning for the future, not understanding the full picture of the situation here, and justifying the action we describe as self-defense.”

For example, he believes Israel should stop building settlements “on what could potentially be a Palestinian state” in the West Bank, because that state is necessary for peace.

Looking for a way to mirror society and expose his hypocrisy, Mr. Rosenman contacted a friend from the music industry and suggested that he meet actor and rapper Mr. Zakout.

They started talking in June last year, meeting for hours on a dozen occasions and building trust. They recorded the song in Hebrew and Arabic in March and recorded the video in mid-April.

Their timing was perfect. A few weeks later, the last Gaza war broke out. Jews and Arabs clashed across Israel.

Their first conversation was difficult.

They argued in 1948. Mr. Zakout talked about his family in Gaza, how he missed them, how he wanted to get to know his relatives who lost their homes. The Jew spoke about “the arrogance, bigotry we feel as Arabs.”

“My Israeli friends said I put them in front of the mirror,” he said.

Mr. Rosenman said he understood Mr. Zakout’s longing for a united family. It was natural. But why did Arab armies attack Jews in 1948? “We are satisfied with what we have,” he said. “You know we have no other choice.”

The reaction to the video was overwhelming, as if it had revealed something hidden in Israel. Invitations poured in – to appear at conferences, participate in documentaries, host concerts, record podcasts.

“I’ve been waiting for someone to make this video for a long time,” said one commenter, Arik Carmi. “How can we fight each other when we are more like brothers than we can admit to ourselves? Change will not come without letting go of hate.”

Two men, now friends, a Jew and a Jew, are working on a second project that will examine how self-criticism can bring about change in society. he will ask Question: How can you do better instead of blaming the government?

Mr. Zakout recently met Mr. Rosenman’s grandfather. Yoram ZamoshHe planted the Israeli flag on the Wailing Wall after Israeli paratroopers attacked the Old City in Jerusalem during the 1967 war. Most of Mr. Zamosh’s Berlin family were killed by the Nazis in the Chelmno extermination camp.

“He is a unique and special man,” Mr. Zakout said of Mr. Yamosh. “It reminds me a bit of my grandfather Abdallah Zakout, his energy, his feelings. When we talked about her past and her pain, I understood her fear and she also understood my side.”

The video aims to bring viewers to the same kind of understanding.

“This is the beginning,” said Mr. Zakout. “We’re not going to fix this in a week. But at least it’s something, the first step in a long journey.”

Mr Rosenman added: “What we do is shout out loud that we are no longer afraid. We let go of the traumas of our parents and together we build a better future for all.”

The last words of Mr. Zakout in the video: “Neither of us has another country and this is where the change begins.”

They return to the table in front of them and share the pita and hummus in silence.

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