Jewish activist Uriya Rosenman and Arab rapper and actor Sameh 'SAZ' Zakout have gone viral with a rap video showing the two men hurling insults at each other. With their tagline "Everyone thinks of changing the world, no one thinks of changing himself" they have finally pinpointed the real issue of the failed attempts to create peace in Palestine/Israel -- lack of communication. If you cannot talk about prejudice and deep rooted problems it's impossible to resolve the unbearable divide that separates the Arabs from the Jews in their contended land.
In the video, a Jew (Rosenman) speaking Hebrew and an Arab (SAZ) responding in both Arabic and Hebrew face off in a car garage, as each spouts off stereotypes about the other, punctuated by the refrain -- this is a rap video after all -- “I’m not a racist”.
As Rosenman points out, the project "mirrors the extreme voices I encountered, blinded by fear and nurtured by simplistic narratives," after the activist began traveling and "researching, collecting opinions of diverse Jews and Arabs across Israel." What he figured out, during this 3-year journey, is that "by promoting authenticity, understanding complexity and speaking the moderate truth -- we can let go of past traumas and build a better future together." The younger generations are ready for a change.
SAZ himself is no stranger to cross-cultural exchanges. As an actor he's been featured in both Udi Aloni’s Junction 48 and Sameh Zoabi’s 2018 film Tel Aviv on Fire -- both products of Jewish-Arab collaboration.
Collaborations in art between Jews and Arabs have been plentiful but there remains an underlying current of prejudice which then sabotages even the most noble efforts. Films like Let It Be Morning by Israeli filmmaker Eran Kolirin end up suffering this fate and getting lost amidst controversies like the recent one when the film premiered in Cannes and the entire Arab cast decide to boycott the screening. Plentiful other such disasters have plagued beautiful works by both Palestinian and Israeli filmmakers and personally, I'm often amazed at the closed-mindedness of those who pretend to be cultural bridges.