An online petition has been landing in the inboxes of pro-Israel Americans this month, many of whom are expressing shock at the Portland public school system for allowing a Palestinian hip-hop group with offensive lyrics justifying terrorism and comparing Israelis to Nazis to perform at a city high school.
The group, named DAM, was invited to perform at Lincoln High School last month. Simply knowing the band’s name, DAM – blood in Arabic and Hebrew – raises serious questions why school officials would position this group in front of impressionable students. Their lyrics raise even more questions about the judgment of these school officials.
Sponsored by Portland State University Christians United for Israel, the petition states:
The lyrics demonize Israeli Jews, calling them rapists and Nazis, justifying terrorism against them.. (“You’re a Democracy? It’s more like the Nazis…Your raping of the Arab soul gave birth to your child: The suicide bomber.”) These lyrics are threatening to Jewish students at Lincoln, and do not represent the mainstream opinions of Palestinians and Arab Israelis.
A sample of the group’s work: one DAM song called “Min Irhabi” or “Who’s a Terrorist?” is filled with anti-Israel propaganda and in-your-face lyrics, that many parents – regardless of their political stripe – would just as soon not have their children get a free helping of at school. With these few lines, one gets the picture:
Who’s a terrorist? I’m a terrorist?
How am I a terrorist while I live in my country
Who’s a terrorist? You’re a terrorist!
You’re swallowing me while I live in my country
Killing me like you killed my ancestors […]
Democracy? I swear you’re Nazis
With all the times you raped the Arab spirit
It got pregnant and birthed a boy called the suicide bomber
And here you are calling us terrorists
The music video is on YouTube:
The petitioners say even though students and parents voiced their concerns about the band’s content to the school board, the board went ahead with the performance, “despite the physical and emotional fears of the students.” The petition is asking the school board to apologize and assure students that “events with hate speech will not be tolerated again. Presently, the school board has found no breach in Lincoln High School’s policies on hate speech.”
The Jewish Review reported on the November 4th concert at a Lincoln High School student assembly. Teachers tried to prepare classes before attending the assembly. One teacher didn’t bring his class, because he felt he didn’t have enough time to prepare them. Students reported the event lasted an hour with band members speaking English, but some of the lyrics were not translated. The report did not say if the song “Who’s a Terrorist” was performed. One attendee said many “asked the trio what they thought could be done to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict:”
“One of their answers that really bothered me was that they said the land of Israel should not be controlled by a Jewish government. It seems innocuous on the surface, because it looks like they are advocating for fairness and equality.” But what “went over a lot of heads at the assembly,” she explained, was that if there is no Jewish state, then eventually there will be no Jews in the Middle East. There is currently “only one Jewish country” among all the Muslim/Arab ones, she said, and “they are saying that the Jewish state doesn’t have the right to exist.”
[A Wilson high school student who also attended, Jewish Student Union President Becky] Davidson said that a lot of kids in the audience “just didn’t know. They were like, ‘Yeah, we want equality, too.’ It’s really idealistic, but it’s not the reality.”
After the rappers’ comments, Davidson said that [student Shoshi] Singer heard a girl in the audience say, “Oh, my God, I hate Israel! It so sucks.”
According to Davidson, when DAM members said, “We need to have equality for all people in Israel” they suggested that this would be accomplished when Israel was no longer a Jewish state.
The Jewish Review also reports the school allowed a panel discussion on November 1st to address concerns over the hip hop group’s invitation. The assembly three days later was called “optional,” meaning teachers could decide if to bring their students.
It reports the public school’s Arab Studies Program is funded by Qatar Foundation International, which also sponsored the hip hop group’s visit to the high school. Last year, Israeli, Spanish and British newspapers reported that the Qatar Foundation had given money to extremist Muslim cleric Yusuf al Qaradawi who advocates “terrorism, wife beating and anti-Semitism” and that the foundation gives money to the terrorist group Hamas:
Michael Cahana, senior rabbi for Congregation Beth Israel, attended the panel discussion as the rabbi of many families whose children attend Lincoln. He said, “This is not a free speech issue; it is an educational issue. Certainly from a Jewish perspective the lyrics of DAM’s songs promote terrorism, which strikes me as really inappropriate to bring them to a high school. To have a vibrant discussion [outside of a school] makes sense. But when you bring a group into a classroom” or, in this case an assembly, “it carries a certain responsibility. And I don’t see that responsibility being met.” […]
From the sidelines Peyton Chapman, Lincoln High School principal, jumped in with, “If the word ‘Nazi’ comes up at the assembly, we’re going to discuss it.” The Holocaust “was an incredible horror. We don’t want to have it repeated.”
If the concert during school hours wasn’t offensive enough, the school’s Arabic teacher, Sarah Standish, posted a notice on her blog to which the school’s website links offering students extra credit if they attended an off-campus screening of a documentary about the group and submitted a 300-word essay about the experience. In the same post she included a letter trying to assure parents that “DAM does not advocate violence of any kind.”
Perhaps a Lincoln senior Emilie Cohen summarized the issue most eloquently:
“My biggest concern is that our principal is supposed to keep us physically and emotionally safe. And with this group and their published videos it makes me feel like they hate Jews; they hate Israelis. I personally don’t feel emotionally safe knowing that these people – who hate me without even knowing me – come into my public school, spreading their message. …why would our principal allow this group to come in?”
The anti-Israeli curricula and atmosphere on American college campuses has faced scrutiny in recent years; this Portland case suggests there may also be a growing problem in K-12 schools.
It should be noted the members of DAM are Arab citizens of Israel who identify themselves as Palestinian. Their opinion of the city where they were raised – Lod, next to Ben-Gurion International Airport – is that it’s occupied Palestinian territory, not Israel. Or, in other words: there is no place in their world view for Jews to have their national homeland.
The Blaze reached out to the principal of the high school for comment, but did not hear back in time for publication.