The Hip Hop Crew DAM at a show at Baladna Association for Arab Youth, in Haifa, Israel.
Da Arabian MC’s Suhell Nafar, Tamer Nafar, Mahmoud Jreri DAM is the first and leading Palestinian Rap Group. It is composed of Tamer Nafar, 27, his younger brother Suhell, 23, and Mahmoud Jreri, 24. The group has been performing together since the late 90s. Tamer, who had been performing Rap since 1998 with his brother, was first contacted by Mahmoud Jreri. Mahmoud was writing his own lyrics so they quickly decided to join forces and the group was born in 1999. All three members of the group were born and grew up in the slums of Lod, a mixed town of Arabs and Jews, 20 km from Jerusalem.
DAM’s music is a unique fusion of East and West, combining Arabic percussion rhythms, Middle Eastern melodies and urban Hip Hop/Rap
The lyrics of DAM are influenced by the continuing Israeli – Palestinian conflict as well as by the Palestinian struggle for freedom and equality. DAM also draw their influence from such controversial issues as terrorism, drugs and womens rights.
Musically they take their inspiration from both Hip Hop artists (Nas, 2Pac, Mos Def, IAM, NTM, Saian Supa Crew, MBS etc.) and Arabic music (Marcel Khalifa,Kazem Saher,George Wassouf, Majda al Romi etc.)
Baladna Association for Arab Youth
From Baladna’s Website:
Who We Are:
Baladna, Association for Arab Youth, is a developmental and capacity building agency for Arab-Palestinian youth in Israel.
Baladna aspires to provide the ideas, resources, and practical tools for youth activism in the Arab community in Israel, at the same time offering Arab youth a non-partisan, comfortable forum in which to nurture individual and collective identity. We work to strengthen and enable Arab youth’s understanding and application of the principles of democracy and gender equality, pluralism and tolerance, in conjunction with discussion and debate concerning the history, grievances and culture of Palestinians in Israel, the Occupied Territories, and the Diaspora.
Baladna’s Achievements to date:
Arab citizens of Israel – a sizeable minority of approximately 20% – are the poorest and most marginalized community in the country. Palestinian youth born in Israel – comprising over 1/2 of the one million Palestinians in Israel – bear the brunt of these economic, social and political conditions. According to the Israeli National Bureau of Statistics, over 1/2 of Arab children under 18 subsist below the poverty line.
Furthermore, around 40% of Arab students in Israel drop out before they finish high school, and only 1/3 of Arab youth pass the matriculation exams required for entrance into higher education institutions. The ultimate result: growing unemployment in conjunction with increased criminal behavior and drug use among youth.
This dismal situation stems mainly from the conditions created during the1948 war and exodus, and from subsequent discriminatory Israeli government policy and displacement by the State. Palestinian students in Israel endure both overt and subtle discrimination by state institutions, manifested in unequal budget allocations and omissions in the official curricula.
The Israeli public school system is largely divided into separate, segregated tiers for Jews and Arabs. The generality of Arab students receive less funding than those attending Jewish schools, and public Arab schools are notoriously under-funded compared with public Jewish schools. For instance, the elementary school in the village of Ein Mahel, near Nazareth, is so crowded that students spill over to tiny impromptu classrooms in homes across the street. The municipality rents these rooms because it does not have sufficient funds, or lands, with which to build additions. The State of Israel will not zone more land for building in the village. Meanwhile, a few kilometers away in the Jewish city of Nazaret-Elit, the local school boasts an Olympic swimming pool and immense playing field. Clearly, upon receiving a substandard education, Arab students are far less likely to complete their education and less equipped with the knowledge and skills required for success in the wider world.
Further, educational programs designed to enhance cultural identity are conspicuously absent. Students in Arab schools learn about Jewish history, the Holocaust, and the creation of the State in 1948, while learning next to nothing about hundreds of years of Islamic civilization, their own history during the Ottoman Empire, or under colonialism. Curricula addressing the events of 1948 represent an exclusively Zionist perspective. Lacking sufficient opportunities to examine themselves as “Palestinians”, “Israelis”, “citizens”, “Arabs” – or any combination of these national, civic and cultural identities – many Palestinian youth in Israel emerge into a world of responsibilities with an unsteady sense of self, ill-equipped to confront the realities of racial discrimination and ethnic conflict that shape the challenges of life in this land.
Meanwhile, as traditional forms of Palestinian self-subsistence have become obsolete, economic alternatives have oft failed to develop, rendering formerly independent portions of the Palestinian population of Israel seemingly reliant on the State. This so-called “modernization process” has rapidly transformed Palestinian agrarian-village culture while failing to build the infrastructure necessary to support industrial-urban society. In turn, the hurried transformation of indigenous Palestinians into citizens of a “democratic & Jewish State,” accompanied by an intrinsic lack of equal opportunity and equitable service distribution, has led to the neglect of the distinct identity Arab youth in Israel, making them foreigners in their own land.
The importance of youth organizations in any society cannot be overemphasized, especially for a socio-economically vulnerable minority. Educational attainment and healthy identity development are directly linked to the prosperity of the broader community.
Yet although increased awareness of their marginalized status has spurred action within Palestinian society in Israel, there remain no independent, non-sectarian bodies that promote the welfare and education of Arab youth. Youth organizations affiliated with political parties inevitably conduct sectarian activities. And Arab municipalities face a grave fiscal quandary which impedes the allocation of sufficient resources for youth activities.
Formed in and around the cataclysmic events of October 2000 – in which 13 Arab citizens of Israel, mostly youth, were killed by Israeli security forces – Baladna works to address these gaps, striving to foster in Palestinian youth in Israel the strong sense of identity which spurs community engagement and inspires self-motivated social change.
Established by a group of ten educators, artists, lawyers, community workers, feminist activists and journalists representing a new generation of Palestinian citizens of Israel, Baladna is part of a growing trend towards building independent institutions and striving to equalize the Palestinian community’s relationship with the State. Baladna’s focus on youth is fundamental to this larger movement. Working to create an organization run by youth which answers young people’s needs in both structure and content, Baladna is the first attempt of its kind to focus on youth and to place them at the center of educational and social action.
Balancing our work to strengthen Palestinian identity, Baladna also aims to address internal problems within Palestinian society, encouraging a Palestinian political culture based on pluralism and democracy capable of neutralizing factionalism and guaranteeing social and gender equity. We work to cultivate a healthy balance of pride and self-critique as a framework for developing genuine, durable individual and collective identity, strengthening youth capacity and enabling young people to express their full leadership, cultural, and creative potential.
Baladna works to strengthen and enable Arab youths’ understanding and application of the principles of democracy and gender equality, pluralism and tolerance, in conjunction with discussion and debate concerning the history, grievances and culture of Palestinians in Israel, the Occupied Territories, and the Diaspora.
Baladna aims to equip Palestinian youth in Israel with the creative, inspirational and evaluative ability to assist themselves and others through the development of their leadership skills, encouraging community interaction and positive change and providing them with a forum and space for expression.
How Baladna Realizes These Goals
In its first years, Baladna created a special space in which Arab youth could meet to discuss issues unique to their experience as members of both a marginalized minority and an oppressed nation, as well as a neglected yet essential population in the wider Middle East. Today, Baladna is working to strengthen the ability of these youth to make change in their communities. And through international exchanges and seminars, we offer means for these youth to convey their needs to the wider public.
In a social and political atmosphere which discourages questioning and free-thought amongst Arab youth, Baladna sincerely believes that youth must be given the space, time, and knowledge-base necessary to come to their own conclusions. Through Youth Groups and Leadership Development Trainings, Baladna empowers youth with resources, information, and critical thinking skills, offering the essential background that allows youth to engage in an informed inquiry that leads to community involvement and social change. During discussion groups, lectures, films, role-play and a variety of other activities, Baladna Youth Groups explore a number of issues, including identity and equality, democratic values and behavior, human and minority rights. This concrete capacity-building aims to foster and enable a collective youth movement within Arab society, assisting this and the next generation of youth in propelling themselves and their communities out of economic decline and social stagnation.
At the same time, Baladna assures that Arab youth in Israel have access to a wide range of views and perspectives by linking Arab youth with the international community, regional Palestinian groups, and local Jewish groups through Youth Exchanges, field trips, work-camps and talks. Always unique, sometimes stigmatized and oft-forgotten, Palestinians in Israel live isolated from the Jewish majority, Palestinians in the Occupied Territories, the Arab World, and the rest of the globe. Even as their identity as Palestinians is repressed within Israeli society, the Arab World and many of their fellow Palestinians regard them as Israelis. Unable to travel to Arab countries which deny entry to Israeli citizens, they live remote from millions of neighboring Arabs, whilst surrounded by Jews, a minority in the region. And at the same time, much of the world is not even aware that they even exist, much less that they are the original inhabitants of the land now known as Israel. Such a reality is quite isolating and alienating, and opportunities for exchange with “outsiders” offer welcome respite and healthy perspective on the complex environment in which Arabs in Israel live.
Ultimately, with a balanced measure of self-love and self-critique, Palestinian youth in Israel must communicate their concerns to the outside world. Thus far, Baladna has managed to build a cadre of youth with stronger identities and self-esteem. Next we must assist youth as they apply the tools for self-advocacy, creating forums in which they can raise their agenda and communicate their concerns, and including them in the process of developing future forums. After several years of developing contacts with local, regional and international youth networks, NGOs and communities, Baladna is posed to tackle its next key ambition: advocating for Arab youth in Israel on the media, government, and international levels.
Meanwhile, organizers, social workers, and educators striving to better the situation of Arab youth in Israel often note an essential stumbling block in their work: the dearth of research regarding the history, status, or future prospects of Arab youth. For this reason, Baladna aims to begin to fill the gap in coming years, commissioning studies on as many issues as possible connected with, and of concern to, Arab youth and their future as citizens of Israel, members of the Palestinian people, and actors in a globalizing world.
Baladna’s Projects and Activities
Baladna’s core project, which has been ongoing since the organization was founded in 2001, is the:
Youth Training Program
Youth Leadership Training Course:
To develop practical skills amongst youth, particularly building up their leadership skills
Giving youth the tools and resources to become future leaders and activists in their societies.
Youth Groups Project:
To create a space in which youth can explore issues of identity and develop the capacities to effect change in their own communities. Within the youth groups project secondary school students participate in:
Public Achievement project – Allows the youth to identify problems within their own community and act upon these by engaging in a project which will make a difference in their local community.
Interregional Encounter – Youth from the different regions throughout the country will meet together to recognize their shared society, culture and history.
To provide a voice to Palestinian Youth in Israel through multi-media and connect them with Palestinians in the region and further a field.
-> Shabab: a monthly magazine – Shabab is a space for young people to be introduced to, and experience, journalism. After receiving training young people work in editorial groups and as correspondents.
-> Momken: website – Set-up in 2005, Momken is an attempt to draw together practical information available on line, for young people in Arabic. There are currently 5,000 users per month, accessing information on where to find advice for practical life issues. www.momken.org
-> Jafra: website – The Jafra site is a youth-oriented Arabic-English resource centre and platform for dialogue between Palestinian youth. The resource centre includes a discussion forum, video room, picture gallery, a creativity room a music room where youth will be able to access modern and traditional Palestinian music and a video link up which will allow Palestinians who are separated by national borders to contact each other. www.jafra.ps
Other Youth Projects
-> Jadal Debate project: Baladna has been working in partnership with Haifa El Fattah, a Haifa-based local social movement of Arab youth, to hold a number of lively lectures, discussions and debates, in which youth have the opportunity to get together and discuss a variety of controversial topics relevant to them. The joint project, entitled ‘Jadal’ (‘Debate’) organizes a number of cultural events relevant to Arab youth in Israel, including the screening of films and facilitation of lectures, discussions and debates.
-> ‘Field Trips in my Homeland’ program: This is a project which aims to give young people the opportunity to visit different parts of the country, and therefore become familiar with the history and heritage of their homeland. This will raise awareness of Arab youth to tourist sites, and areas which they should know about as important factors of their history and identity.
-> International activities and Exchanges: Baladna organizes several international exchanges throughout the year, which gives young people the opportunity to experience youth participation and community work in a variety of cultural , social and awareness-raising activities in support of anti-discrimination and anti-racism efforts in communities all over the world. Baladna is also the official branch of Youth Action for Peace, an international peace movement which aims towards societies of peace, justice and self-determination.
-> Courses for Youth: Baladna hosts a number of courses throughout the year, which give young Arab Palestinians of Israel the opportunity to develop and enhance their skills in a range of fields, for example photojournalism and drama courses.
-> Campaigns: Baladna is responsible for campaigning for the rights of young Arab Palestinian citizens of Israel. Currently we have joined hands with a group of political, social and national organizations in Israel to form The Coalition of Youth against the Civil Service, which is taking a stand against the Israeli government’s proposal for the Civil/ National Service project for young Arab Palestinian citizens of Israel.
Baladna publishes studies for awareness and advocacy purposes. Previous publications have focused on informal education, intercultural learning, civil rights, and youth management tools. We have produced the first-ever Youth Leader Manual written in Arabic designed to address the specific needs of Arab youth in Israel. Baladna also provides youth a platform for expression via our monthly youth magazine, reaching thousands of Arab youth. And our monthly newsletter keeps our members connected with one another as well as aware of local community events, Baladna activities, international opportunities, and scholarships.