Israeli Rap Presentation Handout
Ben Reich & Alexis Kang

We have recently learned in class about relational history as described by David A. McDonald, in which “popular culture, specifically African-American Hip-Hop, enables new social formations to coalesce and to dialogue within new associative frames of meaning, articulating an emerging transnational interconnectedness” (McDonald, 30).  Also, according to Franz Markowitz in Ethnographic Encounters in Israel: Poetics and Ethics of Fieldwork, “all Israeli rappers consistently claim that hip-hop is not just about music but also about saying loudly and clearly what you really think, feel and believe. Since rappers come from different social backgrounds, hip-hop in Israel soon became a space where different truths were being conveyed and contested, lyrically and stylistically” (Markowitz ,81).

Through this lens, we will discuss Israeli rap and its contributions to the idea of ‘transnational interconnectedness’ more so than other genres.  We will begin by briefly outlining the trajectory of hip-hop/rap from its beginnings in the U.S in the 1970’s, to its association with sociopolitical ideas and movements such as Black Nationalism.  From there, we will move to politics in Israeli rap by listening to two Israeli rap songs.  This first is called “Meen Irhabi” (Who’s the Terrorist), written in 2001 by Palestinian-Israeli rap group DAM.  The second song, called Tikva (Hope) was written by Jewish Israeli rapper Subliminal in 2003.  From these songs’ English subtitles, we will explore some of their many political messages.  Finally, we will discuss the phenomenon of political statements as a staple of rap as a genre and Israeli rap in particular, as well as rap’s unique effectiveness in empowering and giving a voice to whole communities.

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