The light at the end of the tunnel: Hip Hop from Palestine

There's a mystic poetic power around this man. It makes me nervous when I meet him for an interview. Tamer Nafar is the Chuck D of Palestine, the first and greatest hip hop star of arab Israelis. He comes from the city of Lod, a poor town near Ben Gurion Airport, in which jewish and palestinian Israelis live side by side. Without taking notice of each other. 

 Tamer Nafer, Palestine's Chuck D

Tamer Nafer, Palestine's Chuck D

"As you know, the two solution died a long time ago. We are already living in a one state solution, in one state. Yes, you have the Westbank, you have Gaza, but Israel is controlling all the area. In the Westbank they decide when they go out. So Israel is one state." 

When he talks, he sets up his melancholic devil's look, something introverted and romantic. But when you see him perform, rap and sing, you see a political peace fighter who has a vision beyond anger. Music is his weapon to find a way out of the stuck middle east situation. I see him in a show with his group. He sings: "This is not political". But the power he gives this phrase says nothing but the opposite. 

"I think the solution is to understand that the palestinians are not going to vanish. And to admit all the wrongs that happened to them. They have the right to exist and you cannot break their back. This is the reality: They're very loud, very clear, very strict with their rights." 

Tamer Nafar uses the same double strategy when he talks and sings. Knowing exactly that the political phrases have become useless, he would always avoid direct statements and he would always refer to his art. But at the same time, with this rhetoric gesture, he creates a space for a utopic hope. You feel it when you hear the crowd shout to his music.

"When they talk about Palestine and we have a happy ending, I'm sure Hip Hop will get one of the credits. It's not just Hip Hop it's the alternative movement but Hip Hop was the god father of it. When they talk about the light at the end of the tunnel - and there is a lot of tunnel - there is also a light. And I do see the light." 

He sings: "I'm in love with a jew" and some hundred voices sing along. His humour makes the idea of an israeli-palestinian love story imaginable.