A Rap Song Lays Bare Israel’s Jewish-Arab Fracture — and Goes Viral

Updated: July 22nd, 2021 04:50 PM IST

One of most powerful moments of my recent stay in Israel, meeting these guys fired up to expose prejudice and change Israel: A Rap Song Lays Bare Israel’s Jewish-Arab Fracture — and Goes Viral

A Rap Song Lays Bare Israel’s Jewish-Arab Fracture — and Goes Viral Photo

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

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

Facing each other in a garage over a small plastic table, the two hurl ethnic insults and clichés at each other, tearing away the veneer of civility overlaying the seething resentments between the Jewish state and its Palestinian minority in a rap video that has gone viral in Israel.

The video, “Let’s Talk Straight,” which has garnered more than four million views on social media since May, couldn’t have landed at a more apt time, after the eruption two months ago of Jewish-Arab violence that turned many mixed Israeli cities like Lod and Ramla into Jewish-Arab battlegrounds.

By shouting each side’s prejudices at each other, at times seemingly on the verge of violence, Mr. Rosenman and Mr. Zakout have produced a work that dares listeners to move past stereotypes and discover their shared humanity.

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

Mr. Zakout, 37, wants to change Israel by overcoming their forebears’ traumas. “I am not emphasizing my Palestinian identity,” he says. “I am a human being. Period. We are human beings first.”

“Don’t cry racism. Stop the whining. You live in clans, fire rifles at weddings,” he taunts, his body tensed. “Abuse your animals, steal cars, beat your own women. All you care about is Allah and the Nakba and jihad and the honor that controls your urges.”

Top Tweets About The Story

Top Israel Stories
Iran claims arrest of spy group linked to Israels Mossad Photo Iran claims arrest of spy group linked to Israels Mossad
“Beautiful feelings” in Literature and the Palestine/Israel Relationship Photo “Beautiful feelings” in Literature and the Palestine/Israel Relationship
Raising $555 Million, iAngels Helps Transform Israel Into Scale-Up Nation Photo Raising $555 Million, iAngels Helps Transform Israel Into Scale-Up Nation
Partner Communications Announces Filing of a Shelf Prospectus in Israel Photo Partner Communications Announces Filing of a Shelf Prospectus in Israel
Iran says it detains agents working for Israel, seizes arms cache Photo Iran says it detains agents working for Israel, seizes arms cache
Israel Consul General, ZOA President Discuss Iran in Iranian Americans for Liberty Webinar Photo Israel Consul General, ZOA President Discuss Iran in Iranian Americans for Liberty Webinar
Florida Gov Ron DeSantis sanctions Ben & Jerrys over Israel boycott Photo Florida Gov Ron DeSantis sanctions Ben & Jerrys over Israel boycott
Israel defence minister to visit France to discuss NSO, Iran Photo Israel defence minister to visit France to discuss NSO, Iran