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Nov-02-2011 17:35printcomments

Palestine Hip-Hop - DAM Performs in Portland Friday

"Let us introduce ourselves... we are from a town called Lid where those that kill and demolish go without punishment"- DAM

DAM photo courtesy: (See poster below)

(PORTLAND, Ore.) - Mark your calendar for this Friday. Salmon Street Studios in Portland will host both a cutting edge documentary about the music scene in the Middle east: Slingshot Hip Hop, and a live performance from one of the coolest bands in modern history, DAM, from Lod, Israel. The band is the face, heart and soul of Palestinian Hip-Hop.

It happens at Salmon Street Studios, 109 SE Salmon Street, Suite C, in Portland. The event is free and open to the public--all ages are encouraged to attend and share solidarity in a powerful musical experience that is truly a rare and unusual treat.

Two brothers, Tamer and Suhell Nafar, and their friend Mahmoud Jreri, comprise the core elements of the band. Their music is raw and brave and who has more of a right to express anger in music than people living in a place where their rights are diminished simply because they aren't from the right religion?

Human rights - the subject can't be overrated or too frequently stated and as long as Palestinians have to live in disparity, in the occupied territories, Gaza or Israel itself, where the band hails from, the messages remain the same.

I am extremely pleased that these incredibly powerful performers will make their voices heard in the City of Roses, Portland, Oregon, where activists are occupying part of the city in favor of Americans who are suffering, in increasing numbers.

An Evening of Palestinian Hip Hop Friday, November 4, 2011
Salmon Street Studios, 109 SE Salmon St., Suite C, Portland, OR 97214

Slingshot Hip Hop Film Screening
followed by Q&A with Director Jackie Reem Salloum

5:30 pm

The documentary film Slingshot Hip Hop (2008), screened as part of the Middle East Studies Center Film Series, braids together the stories of young Palestinians living in Gaza, the West Bank and inside Israel as they discover Hip Hop and employ it as a tool to surmount divisions imposed by occupation and poverty. From internal checkpoints and Separation Walls to gender norms and generational differences, this is the story of young people crossing the borders that separate them. 


Palestinian Hip Hop Performance by DAM
8:00 pm

Based in Lod, Israel, Palestinian Hip Hop Artist DAM was founded in 1999 by brothers Tamer and Suhell Nafar and their friend Mahmoud Jreri, and their songs are largely about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and poverty. The group’s name is the Arabic verb for “to last forever/eternity” (دام) and the Hebrew word for “blood” (דם), but can also be an acronym for “Da Arabian MCs.”

These events are free and open to the public--all ages.
Both are co-sponsored by the Portland State University Arab Persian Student Organization and Students United for Palestinian Equal Rights, Zulu Oregon Universal and the Lincoln Arabic Studies Program.

Hip-Hop, Olive Trees and Palestine

I wrote about this group in July 2010 in an article titled, Hip-Hop, Olive Trees and Palestine. In order to not cut anything from it, I am simply republishing the article below:

If there is one section of the world that seems fitting for the hard thumping raw sounds of hip hop music, it is the Mideast. American rap and hip hop has touched on human issues here and there, and it serves as an escape route from normal society for today's young, but the political message is all too often lacking.

That is not the case with Palestinian rap group DAM Da Arab MC's or "forever" in Arabic. The word means 'blood' in Hebrew. They sing about life and death and the pain of a life of prejudice, where everywhere you go you are a lesser person than the next, because you aren't the "right" religion.

From the way it appears, this Arab/Israeli band might have gained more ground on the road toward peace than all of the politicians and generals put together in recent years. Reminiscent of rock music's role in the 1960's in America, DAM is at the head of an extremely important Israeli counter culture movement that is bringing people together in ways that are unrivaled, and permanent.

Many in the U.S. lament the lack of cultural understanding among young American Jews; surveys reveal that they don't think about Israel very often, and many have poor opinions, especially since the operation against Gaza in 2008/2009, then again recently when several peace activists aboard a Gaza Freedom Flotilla vessel, the Mavi Marmara, were attacked and murdered by Israeli forces committing an act of high seas piracy, according to international law.

"Let us introduce ourselves
We are from a town called Lid
Where those that kill and demolish
Go without punishment"- DAM

In Israel, the same thing is taking place, though on a smaller level. The younger generation doesn't have the same level of animosity toward non-Jews and many are really pissed about the way their own nation regards Palestinians. If a generation grows up thinking this way, there is hope for a different future. There are also many young Israelis refusing service in the military, even going to prison over it.

Of course it would be hard to fight for Israel. Like the U.S. in Iraq and Afghanistan, Israel doesn't follow international law. Yet they stand in judgment of legitimately elected political groups like Hamas, that gave up suicide bombing for good in 2005, when at the time it was one of the few ways people here could take a toll on Israel in retaliation for so many legitimate grievances.

Suicide bombing is a terrible business and Hamas deserves credit for halting that activity and later even admitting it was wrong. Contrary to what most believe and are told, the "72 virgins" line about Islamic jihadists appears to be little more than western propaganda.

But the music cuts through the complicated politics and clears the haze of so many false words, as it always has.

The Israelis read frequently how Gaza is much better off than it really is. More than one recently sent stories and images from local media to over a particular report, that contradicted what I had written and published. The YouTube video I produced which tells the story of Gaza, is "not available" in Israel. The images were as fictitious as they get; they were not of Gaza today. The Israeli news story made the deadly place sound like paradise.

So we start getting to the bottom of what is going on; not only is most Israeli media mostly an extension of the government, but they block images and even video reports on YouTube that tell the true story. It is a game that can only last so long.

The Palestinian rappers like DAM aren't anything new; they, along with other hip hop and rap groups have been around for many years. But now the message is getting out like never before and that is happening in part because of a new documentary called "Slingshot Hip Hop" which chronicles the story of this music in Palestine and Israel and throughout the world.

End Israel's Unwarranted Murder of Kids

The Rabbi Report wrote:

"DAM started up as a group of young men just having their kicks. It didn't take long for them to realize how powerful their existence was and that their message could be equally so. The nature of their lyrics necessarily changed and they started rapping about the struggle of the Palestinian, about selling drugs and the unfair treatment of women. They visited schools, talking to and inspiring legions of young kids. Their uplifting message attracted Palestinians of all ages to their shows, something rappers in the U.S. have lost site of. The arc of Slingshot Hip Hop regards a newer rap group, PR (Palestinian Rappers) whose members are virtual prisoners of Gaza, and their efforts to get their own music out. Watching these young people emerge as artistic personalities is an awesome experience to have caught on film."


The lyrics in "Born Here" by DAM are in my opinion, extremely chilling. The female singer tells a story that sounds like nothing you would ever here in the states.

From the DAM song: Born Here

"Our neighborhood is embarrassed,
Not dressed in silk

A bride without a veil, waiting,
Longing for her beauty

Ethnic cleansing knocks at the door,
Time's passed her over, forgotten her

The separation wall mutes her hope,
Like a bird that breaks out of the cage
She'll spread her wings and fly

I think the group is inspiring, incredible and fantastic, even if I have a self-professed weakness already for Arab rap.

Liron Te'eny, a top Israeli DJ, says the number one song in 2003 in Israel was performed by two Palestinian teenage rappers.

Te'eny said, "This music breaks barriers, some people who live ignorant, Israelis... have no idea, about how they live and how they feel, when they listen to the songs they relate, they understand, they can understand the pressure."

It is a sign of the times and an emerging consciousness in Israel that many older residents would like to ignore.

In Israel, as in the U.S., there is a great deal of ignorance perpetuated by right leaning media. This stems from media reports distorting facts and skewing the details with paranoid perceptions and reactions. It is about fearmongering, and then feeding the created fear.

People in this world really want to live in peace and they care more about that than ideology if given a chance. Neither religion or greed over resources like oil, should lead to the loss of human life.

But religion and Islam in general, fundamentalism in particular, only surged after Afghanistan had been repressed from religion for about three decades by the Soviets. Then there is the western dominance over Iran that spanned from 1953 to 1979, the year of the launch of the Islamic Revolution.

These rappers aren't making a point about picking up chicks, cruising a 5.0 Mustang, degrading women, living extravagantly, or anything.

You will see by watching the videos below that these guys are talking about the essential ability to live as a free human being; something that they aren't allowed to do under Israel's current politics and leadership.

When it comes to the Israeli people who support their PM, you can't say that their direct and indirect role in oppressing Palestinians is always their fault.

Many Israelis were killed over the years; a degree of the fear and paranoia is warranted, though very over the top. Suicide bombings used to happen frequently, but they don't anymore.

These days they happen in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Also, Israelis may have their hearts telling them one thing, but then they are fed information constantly by media like the Jerusalem Post that causes Israeli citizens to see things a certain way, and everything is underscored with the notion of "security" being the prime importance, which results in the lack of humanity toward their fellow human beings who they share land with, who are so often and increasingly associated with "terrorists".

DAM in Israel

These newer generation Israelis are crowding DAM shows in places like Tel Aviv, listening to these songs that are all performed in Arabic, not Hebrew. Many of the young fans are nearing the time when they will have to perform their mandatory military service, an obligation of Israeli; a policy getting very old very fast among Israel's young.

The Gaza Strip, West Bank and Golan Heights are the only remaining vestiges of Palestine, everything else is now part of Israel. The Palestinian areas are surrounded by huge walls West Bank and Golan Heights are both occupied by Israeli forces. New laws in place force all people entering the West Bank today to specifically attain papers from Israel in order to do so. The only part of Palestine that truly remains under the control of its own military is Gaza, where Hamas maintains control.

The rest of the land is no longer Palestine and as a result, Arab Israelis make up about 20% of the population in Israel. There are apartheid laws, separate criminal justice systems for Jews and non-Jews. Arabs are by and large, are treated like second class citizens by the government, though not all Israelis.

Jobs for Arabs are few in Israel and poverty is rampant, but that isn't the story for most Jews. Interestingly, one of the suffering classes of Jewish Israeli residents are Holocaust survivors, who exist on meager incomes and often fail to meet their basic needs, living in poverty oftentimes like the Arabs. Interestingly, these Holocaust survivors know better than anyone what it is like to be singled out for your race and religion; most are against the oppression of Palestine. It is the next generation down, like Prime Minister Benjamin Netanhyahu, who keep pushing policies that force Israel to lose support and popularity in the world.

Democracy Now Interview

Palestinian Rap Group DAM Use Hip-Hop to Convey the Frustrations, Hopes of a Dispossessed People.

"We turn now to three young Palestinians who use hip-hop to tell their story of the Nakba and what it means to be a Palestinian growing up inside Israel. DAM, or Da Arabian MCs, is the first group of Palestinian rappers and was formed in the late 1990s. All three members were born and grew up in the slums of Lod or Al-Lyd, a mixed town of Arabs and Jews twelve miles from Jerusalem."

I also find it interesting that women in Palestine, do not appear oppressed by their own. They frequently show up in video recorded in Gaza and West Bank, not even slightly covered, even wearing western clothing. I haven't been to Palestine, but I've been to the Mideast and I know it is hard to ever spot a woman in Afghanistan who isn't burqa-clad; in Iraq I saw women range in dress from black full burqas, to modern western fashion.

My point is that western people need to keep grasping the idea that the Palestinians are absolutely cool and interesting by nature like Israelis, and thanks to groups like DAM and others, these two cultures are finding absolute common ground in this new music.

DAM is from Lod, a town between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. They usually rap in Arabic, but they made a Hebrew version of this song with a music video to get their message out to the majority of Israelis who don't speak Arabic.

You can find out more about them at

Visit to see extended comments on the video "Born Here" and its chorus.


Tim King: Editor and Writer

Tim King has more than twenty years of experience on the west coast as a television news producer, photojournalist, reporter and assignment editor. In addition to his role as a war correspondent, this Los Angeles native serves as's Executive News Editor. Tim spent the winter of 2006/07 covering the war in Afghanistan, and he was in Iraq over the summer of 2008, reporting from the war while embedded with both the U.S. Army and the Marines. Tim is a former U.S. Marine.

Tim holds awards for reporting, photography, writing and editing, including the Silver Spoke Award by the National Coalition of Motorcyclists (2011), Excellence in Journalism Award by the Oregon Confederation of Motorcycle Clubs (2010), Oregon AP Award for Spot News Photographer of the Year (2004), First-place Electronic Media Award in Spot News, Las Vegas, (1998), Oregon AP Cooperation Award (1991); and several others including the 2005 Red Cross Good Neighborhood Award for reporting. Tim has several years of experience in network affiliate news TV stations, having worked as a reporter and photographer at NBC, ABC and FOX stations in Arizona, Nevada and Oregon. Tim was a member of the National Press Photographer's Association for several years and is a current member of the Orange County Press Club.

Serving the community in very real terms, is the nation's only truly independent high traffic news Website. As News Editor, Tim among other things, is responsible for publishing the original content of 91 writers. He reminds viewers that emails are easily missed and urges those trying to reach him, to please send a second email if the first goes unanswered. You can write to Tim at this address:

Comments Leave a comment on this story.

All comments and messages are approved by people and self promotional links or unacceptable comments are denied.

Agron Belica November 3, 2011 8:42 am (Pacific time)

Insha'Allah they deliver the message and ROCK THE CROWD!!!I LOVE IT!!!

Anonymous November 3, 2011 6:37 am (Pacific time)

Well, I watched the video. Where are the rockets flying in to Israel? Where are the pics from Israelis after an attack? Where are the pics from a blown bus with women on children getting killed by some misunderstood terrorist? Where are the pics of the suicide bombers on the borders? I would not be surprised if the liberal scrums like you paid these scrums the tickets. Well, maybe the Obama Administration is going to give them a metal for coming here. And I'm sure there are going to be a lot of bleeding hearts at the concert.

Shayna November 2, 2011 8:23 pm (Pacific time)

One of the worst journalistic pieces I have ever seen. Whatever happened to objectivity? This article is saturated in bias, and there are no reliable sources from where you got your backwards information. If you do your research, you will learn that the name Palestine was invented by the Romans and continued in use by the British Mandate. 90% of the British Mandate's Palestine is modern day Jordon, only 10% is modern day Israel. The Palestinians today are mainly Jordanians and immigrants from other Arab countries. Knowledge is power.

Tim King: Wow, you must have missed my piece earlier today on the Balfour Declaration, I'm sure you would really enjoy that.  (94 Years Ago Today: Israel's Bellicose Society Launched by 'The Balfour Declaration')

You suggest that I am biased for caring about human rights?  Don't you think that is preposterous? 

Israel is an apartheid state, look it up if you don't know.  There are separate roads for Jews and non-Jews and endless violations of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, ever read it?  Do you really know anything about the Palestinian Diaspora at all?  Do you know about the Nakba?  Ever heard the term political prisoner?  Why does Israel hold thousands while Palestine no longer holds any?  Israel imprisons little kids ripped away from their families for throwing a stone while Israeli Jews can do it all day and actually hurt people, and never receive so much as a slap on the wrist.  (Murdering Babies is 'Permissible' When They're Palestinian)

We are very steeped in this argument, we have carried thousands of articles about Palestine and Israel and we have many sources in place who keep us up to date.  I don't see a need to BS people, this is so far over the line.  Sadly, David has become Goliath and the ridiculous oppression and occupation must end now

 Iit is time to grant Palestinians freedom and let things take their natural, rather than a very unnatural course.  Oh and by the way, last time I checked DAM is number one in Israel on the Hip-Hop charts, if that isn't a message I don't know what one is. 

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