Palestine Disability Through Political Hip-Hop & Advocacy

Leroy - Posted on 16 June 2013

Leroy Moore

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Although Krip-Hop Nation is international with musicians with disabilities singing and rapping their politics and life, there are countries that Krip-Hop haven’t touched or are only now making baby steps to get into. We, in America, especially us on the left might know one or many things about Palestine. As a lover of international Hip-Hop beyond the US border, I’m always looking for Hip-Hop stories around or focus on people with disabilities with a hard hitting message so when I read that the only Palestinian Hip-Hop group that I knew of, DAM that was teaming up with a Palestinian organization for and by Arabs people with disabilities, I had to get the 411 on both sides!

After a good friend, Nico D who is from Palestine and still have family there told me to get intouch with Tamer Nafar of DAM and I did just that with a Facebook message request for an interview and he said yes and then a day later Abbass Abbass, the director of Al Manarah, an Association of Arabs Persons with Disabilities said yes to an interview. If you are on the internet, you can listen to both interview. What follows are highlights of the audio interviews.

So who is DAM and why did they get involved with Al Manarah? Taken from their Facebook Page (Suhell Nafar, Tamer Nafar, Mahmoud Jreri)

“Heralded by the major French newspaper Le Monde as “the spokesman of a new generation,” DAM, the first Palestinian hip hop crew and among the first to rap in Arabic, began working together in the late 1990s. Struck by the uncanny resemblance of the reality of the streets in a Tupac video to the streets in their own neighborhood of Lyd, Tamer Nafar, Suhell Nafar, Mahmoud Jreri were inspired to tell their stories through hip hop. DAM’s music is a unique fusion of east and west, combining Arabic percussion rhythms, Middle Eastern melodies, and urban hip hop”

I had a chance to talk through skype, with Tamer Nafar of DAM and he gave me some background on why DAM decided to do a song about Palestinians with disabilities. Like in most stories when something happens to you and your family than it becomes more real or having personal experiences changes everything. Come to find out that Tamer’s father was in a car accident and lived the rest of his life as a person with a physical disability. Tamer also told me that his father started an organization of people with disabilities. Besides Tamer’s personal experience with his father disability, Al Manarah approached DAM and invited DAM to visit the center and from there DAM made a song that was finished last year but still waiting to release it. Just like Krip-Hop Nation, DAM is very political and like Krrip-Hop Nation has release songs about police brutality and so much more. Their latest CD is called Dabk on The Moon.

In 2006 I had a chance to be in the audience at an international disabled film festival in Munich, Germany and saw my first ever Hip-Hop video singing a rapping about Arabs with disabilities. The Music video was entitled Difference is Normal that was directed by Rayess Bek and was shot around the country of Lebanon featuring people with disabilities just living. He was commission in 2006 by the United Nation to compose and produce a song for a special awareness campaign on disability. The song and video, “Ekhtilef Tabiyeh” (“Difference is Normal”) was part of the first media campaign promoting acceptance of people with disabilities in the Middle East. It has been broadcast in over 20 countries in North Africa and the Middle East.

Now almost seven years later I just had my first skype interview with Abbass Abbass, the director of an Arab disabled organization, Al Manarh, in Nazareth, Israel. The organization mission is to change the way in which the Arab and Israeli societies view disabilities through a powerful combination of advocacy, education and empowerment. As the only organization working for the advancement of Arabs with disabilities within Israel, Al-Manarah is committed to revolutionizing disability rights and social inclusion within Israel, and beyond. Al-Manarah promotes systemic social change through projects aimed at inclusion and access, as well as self-change through empowerment, community-building and professional training. Abbass Abbass picks up where Tamer Nafar of DAM left off talking about he song that DAM did for people with disabilities:

“There is a story of the song. One day I had a lecture for parents of children with disabilities after I took a taxi and I heard a Hip-Hop song from DAM and I told myself wow Hip-Hop is good so I was thinking somebody should do a Hip-Hop song about people with disabilities. I called the radio station and got contact info of DAM, Tamer Nafar, and invited him to my office. I told him we wanted to rise the awareness of the rights of people with disabilities how about using Hip-Hop to do that. Tamer told me about his father’s disability so we shared ideals about the song highlighting famous people with disabilities. I told my stories of discrimination. Tamer wrote the song and it is/was very powerful. We are thinking about to creating a music video for the song……”

I’ll post the audio interview with Abbass Abbass SOON. Below are the links of website and music videos of DAM. Both will email me the song when it is official release. Thank you DAM, Tamer and Abbass Abbass
Dabke on The Moon


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