on hip hop & resistance

What makes the headlines about Palestine of late? Predominantly the clashes between Hamas and Fatah in Gaza and the West Bank. This in spite of the fact that of late the Israeli Occupation Forces (more accurately, it should really be called the Israeli Aggressor Forces) have been and are always already brutal in the West Bank every day. This in spite of the fact that this aggression has been caught on tape and the media has covered it–but not as much.

In the last couple of weeks two videos have made the rounds in the media has captured some of these shootings, mostly of youth, though the language they choose to use (passive rather than active voice–eliding the cold blooded murdering practices of the IAF). Here are two such videos of how a typical IAF soldier behaves who happened to be caught on camera this time; the first is from July 7th, in Nil’in, a village in the West Bank. Ashraf Abu Rahma, 27, was stopped by soldiers, handcuffed and blindfolded, beaten, and fired a rubber coated steel bullet that hit his left toe.

The second is more recent and it features a ten-year-old being shot, also in the village of Nil’in. Ahmed Mousa was shot in the head by live ammunition, (a.k.a. rubber-coated steel bullets by the IAF during a demonstration against the apartheid wall built on his village’s land as had Abu Rahma in the first video.

Mousa was murdered by the IAF. As if this wasn’t bad enough, after Mousa’s funeral IAF opened fire on villagers shooting more Palestinian youth as Nora Barrows-Friedman reports:

Around the time of the funeral procession for Ahmed Mousa last night, Israeli occupation forces returned to the village and opened fire on villagers, shooting another young Palestinian teenager in the head. Eighteen-year-old Yousef Ahmad Amira went into a coma after he was shot twice in the head, according to Palestinian news agencies and eyewitnesses. The Mayor of Nilin village said that six other young men were also shot and injured by rubber-coated steel bullets after clashes broke out between Israeli occupation soldiers and villagers defending their land. US-made Israeli bulldozers reportedly destroyed barricades built by villagers at the entrance to Nilin, as Israeli forces began firing tear gas and sound grenades, followed by indiscriminately opening fire.

There’s more. There’s always more with respect to IAF as well as their settler-colonial murderous cohorts:

A number of children were injured during a nonviolent protest in Bethlehem

Settlers attack a wedding in Hebron; throw a youth from the rooftop

The Israeli army attacks a non violent protest in Yatta village

Femle detainees suffering in Israeli prisons

Most of these stories are small in that you probably didn’t hear about them on CNN or in the New York Times. But they are no less real. What scares the Zionist state the most are these cameras that are increasingly turning ordinary Palestinians into witnesses with evidence to show the world how lethal the IAF is every day. This is why the IAF tortured Palestinian journalist Mohammed Omer recently upon his re-entry to Palestine. He is getting noticed; people are reading and listening to his reports about the IAF inflicted state-sanctioned terrorism unleashed on the people inhabiting the prison that is Gaza.

If only these cameras and journalists could capture evidence proving their hand in all of the homicidal nature of Israeli society. Not only in terms of what they do to individuals and what we sometimes see when they are caught, but also the ways in which they help to create colonial conditions that precipitate Palestinians fighting among themselves. The divide and conquer colonial policies of the Zionist state are out of control; it is working and it shouldn’t. Palestinians know better–they know whose cards they are playing when they fight each other so the IAF doesn’t have to. Or at least not as much as they would.

In spite of all this I’m feeling a bit hopeful. I saw a film last night that I have been dying to see for years now. Jackie Salloum’s Slingshot Hip Hop came to Lubnan, specifically to some of the refugee camps here, which on a small level I hope that the rappers highlighted in this brilliant film will inspire the Palestinian hip hop artists in the camps here. But in fact the film does so much more than that in so many ways.

Palestinian hip hop began in the 1948 town of Lydd with the rap group DAM. The film highlights not just the evolution of hip hop in Palestine–in 1948, in the Occupied Territories, in the refugee camps–as a musical phenomenon, but rather as a movement. We see this as the leaders of DAM, Suhell Nafar, Tamer Nafar, Mahmoud Jreri, spend so much of their time reaching out to young rappers. The solidarity we see in this film is so inspiring because it’s not just reconnecting Palestinians who have been forcibly disconnected from one another; it’s about a movement in which wherever DAM travels in Palestine they help to sprout new rap groups in places like Deheishe refugee camp. It is a movement that is based on lyrical resistance. This music, this film, these groups are connected on the level of resistance in its various forms. This movement is reconnecting Palestinians through various modes of communication in ways that is far more vital than any normalization/co-existence project between Israelis and Palestinians which always already forces Palestinians to be even more submissive to Jewish supremacy and domination. This Palestinian hip hop movement is the movement we need to reconnect Palestinian youth–including those in camps in Lebanon with Palestinians in Palestine itself–and the movement that I think, I hope will lead to a genuine resistance movement, especially in 1948.

A trailer from the film for those of you who have not had the good fortune to see it yet:

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