Born Here

Palestinian rap group DAM (Da Arab MC's) created this music video about the life of Palestinians in Israel. They're from Lod, a town between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, so they're Palestinians with Israeli citizenship (sometimes called "Israeli Arabs"). They usually rap in Arabic, but they made a Hebrew version of this song with a music video to get their message out to the majority of Israelis who don't speak Arabic.

You find out more about them at

I've always wanted a subtitled version, so I broke down and adapted the lyrics from their website to create this. I think this is one of the most powerful rap songs out there.

The Chorus

A comment asked what the (Arabic) lyrics of the chorus mean. I think the chorus is really beautiful and evocative, so here's my personal interpretation of what they're saying. It's much too long for the comments, so I put it here...

"Our neighborhood is embarassed, not dressed in silk,
if fear lives in our hearts
A bride without a veil, waiting, longing..."

The context here is that all the land that was in the British mandate of Palestine is one of the most beautiful places on Earth: temperate climate, fertile, and full of history. Palestinians love their country and land. The remaining Palestinian places in Israel (those not destroyed by Jewish paramilitaries in '48) deserve to show their beauty, to be "dressed in silk". However, they're held back, on the one hand by Israeli policy that taxes Palestinian citizens equally, but does not deliver public services equally and even actively oppresses Palestinian citizens of Israel in other ways. On the other hand, they're also held back by the fear they carry in their own hearts. That fear is the result of their difficult history, but it's also an internal obstacle they have to overcome in order to reclaim their inalienable rights. One could draw a parallel to the US civil rights movement.

"Ethnic cleansing knocks on the door"

This is a direct reference to various right-wing Israeli politicians who openly call for the "transfer" (that is, ethnic cleansing) of Palestinians, both from the West Bank and Gaza, but sometimes also from within the internationally recognized borders of Israel. Remember that DAM comes from a Palestinian town that's within that "green line" border.

"Time's passed over her, forgotten her,
the seperation wall mutes her hope"

Palestinian towns in Israel have languished and remained undeveloped relative to other places (for the reasons described above). Israel's seperation wall further tears away the fabric of Palestinian life within Israel, by cutting off Palestinian Israelis from their countrymen in the West Bank and Gaza, thus the wall mutes "her" hope ("she" being the human spirit and life of the Palestinian cities, towns and villages within Israel).

"Like a bird that breaks out of the cage,
she'll spread her wings and fly...

But the Human spirit is is a powerful thing. Aspects of Israeli policy, both official an unofficial, have been trying to wipe out Palestinian identity and culture, and even displace the maximum number of Palestinian people. But it's not working - even after 60 years of oppression and occupation, the spirit of Palestine lives on. Thus, Palestinian national identity and the human reality of Palestinians is like a bird, that one day will "spread her wings and fly"... As long as Palestinians, individually and collectively, do not let themselves be ruled by the fear that others have tried to instill in their hearts.