Tamer Nafar

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Tamer Nafar
Tamer Nafar- Article.jpg
Tamer Nafar- Ynet News, 2016.
Background information
BornJune 6, 1979
OriginLod, Israel[1]
GenresHip hop, Political hip-hop[2][3]
Occupation(s)Rapper, Actor, Screenwriter, Social Activist
Years active1999–present
Associated actsDAM[4]
WebsiteFacebook Page, DAM Official Website

Tamer Nafar (born June 6, 1979) is a Palestinian rapper, actor, screenwriter and social activist.

Early life[edit]

Nafar was born to Fawzi Nafar and Nadia Awadi in Lod, Israel, and is the leader of the world's first Palestinian hip-hop group DAM. He became the face and primary voice of Palestinian hip-hop and is internationally recognized through worldwide tours.

Tamer discovered hip-hop when he was only through Tupac Amaru Shakur's beats. He started to learn English while memorizing Tupac's lyrics and translating them into Arabic. He wanted his verses to rhyme even though they often made little sense.


Tamer recorded his first single "Untouchable", a reference to The Untouchables movie.

In 1998, Tamer released his first EP Stop Selling Drugs, featuring his younger brother, Suhell.


In 2000, their friend Mahmood Jreri joined the Nafar brothers to establish the first Palestinian hip-hop group, which became among the most successful in the Middle East.

The trio named themselves Da Arab MCs to create the acronyms DAM, a word that means lasting or persisting in Arabic and blood in Hebrew (דם).[5] In an interview for Democracy Now (2008),[6] Tamer said that the group’s name suggested “eternal blood, like we will stay here forever,” evoking a politics of resilience and survival (or دام - sumood, in Arabic).

The group members are the grandchildren of those who experienced the Nakba and the children of those who mobilized the Arab minority in Israel in the 1970s and 1980s. This generation is challenging the insults to Palestinian identity and advocates Palestinian self-determination while objecting to racism and inequality.

DAM was notable for their ability to rap in English, Arabic and Hebrew. The group first rapped in English and then in Hebrew as the words flowed better this way.[7]

DAM understood that their potential for meaningful social impact depends on their ability to express their message in Arabic, Hebrew and English, drawing upon vernacular phrases, slang, obscenities and indigenous references to each cultural frame. In this way, DAM is able to reach disparate audiences.

On September 3, 2000, Tamer's friend Booba (Hussam Abu Gazazae) was killed during a drive-by shooting, an incident that drove Tamer to record his first protest song with a political reference, despite the fact that his friend had been killed by an Arab. A cover of Abd al Majeed Abdalla's song "Ya Tayeb al Galb", the song was called "Booba" and featured Ibrahim Sakallah on the hook.

In the outbreak of the Second Intifada in October 2000, Tamer and Mahmood decided to write their first direct political song "Posheem Hapim me Peshaa" (innocent criminals). It was recorded over an instrumental of "Hail Mary" by Tupac and featured inciting lines such as "when Jews protest, the cops use clubs / when Arabs protest, the cops takes their souls" and "if it is a democracy how come I'm not mentioned in your anthem" followed by the chorus "before you judge me before you understand me, walk in my shoes, and you will hurt your feet, because we are criminal, innocent criminals."

The song created controversy in the Israeli media, and put DAM in conflict with some of their fellow Israeli rappers such as Subliminal. Much of the subsequent fall-out was recorded in the documentary Channels of Rage. Despite the controversy, the song was later remixed by Israeli rock musician Aviv Geffen, while American-Israeli director Udi Aloni made a music video for the song in 2003.

2003: Channels of Rage[edit]

In 2003 Israeli film director Anat Halachmi released the documentary Channels of Rage (Wolgin Award winner for best documentary in the Jerusalem film festival 2003).[8] The film follows Tamer Nafar and DAM on one side and the right-wing Zionist rapper Kobi Shimoni (Subliminal and the Shadow) on the other. Meeting in a dark alley in Tel Aviv, the groups nearly come to blows over recent comments made by Tamer and Shimoni. Once collaborative and cherishing, the relationship quickly dissolved as each began to embody a political ideology following the collapse of the 2000 Camp David Summit and the beginning of the Second Intifada. Coming to terms with the violence on the streets of Tel Aviv and Jenin, both artists retreated from their once supportive relationship, based on a mutual love of hip-hop, into the nationalisms of Israel and Palestine.

2004: the Born Here campaign[edit]

Tamer used music and art as a tool for social activism. In 2004, DAM was invited by the Shateel organization to produce songs that discussed discrimination and poverty in mixed Arab-Israeli cities, commenting on government housing demolitions and the dangerous entrance into Lod, which required residents to cross eight train tracks to reach the city. DAM teamed with a local R&B singer and created the song "Born Here" as a reference to a known Israeli song by Dats and Datsa that said "I was born here, my children were born here, and this is where we built our houses with our hands". DAM changed this to "I was born here, my grandparents were born here, and this is where you destroyed our houses with your hands". Due to the campaign's success, the Israeli government built a bridge above the train tracks for safer crossing and allowed DAM to tour Israel discussing their cause.[9]

2006: the first official album- Ihdaa'- dedication[edit]

After the Born Here campaign, the group became the first Palestinian artists to secure a 15 track studio album and included number one hits.The British label RCM marketed the album in Europe and licensed EMI Arabia to distribute the album in Arab countries. After signing with French booking agency 3D Family, DAM toured the biggest music festivals worldwide including Sundance film festival, Womad, Doha DIFF (Doha international film festival), Dubai Film Festival, Trinity International HipHop Festival USA, Vine Rock, Taybeh Beer Festival Palestine, Casa Festival (Morocco) and shared stages with worldwide artists such as GZA of the Wutang Clan, Mos Def, Talib Kweli, Dead Prez, Chuck D of Public Enemy, Pharaoh Monch, Rachid Taha, Ahmad al Khoushry and Immortal Technique.

2008: Slingshot Hip-Hop[edit]

In 2008 Slingshot Hip Hop – a film about Palestinian Hip Hop by Jackie Salloum was released. Slingshot Hip-Hop is a performative type of documentary that stresses subjective experience and emotional response to the world. It talks about personal stories that might be considered unconventional, although perhaps poetic and experimental. Slingshot Hip Hop[10] braids together the stories of young Palestinians living in Gaza, the West Bank and inside Israel as they discover Hip Hop and employ it as a tool to surmount divisions imposed by occupation and poverty. Following the debut in the Sundance film festival, the film got a lot of attention and won many prizes, and featured guest appearances by international artists such as Chuck D from Public Enemy and Africa Bambataa.

2012: second album: Dabke on the Moon[edit]

In 2012, DAM released their second official album, Dabke on the Moon[11].

The main producer was Tamer and Suhell’s cousin, Nabil Nafar, a Danish-Palestinian producer who came to Lid and worked with them on six tracks.

In the track "A letter from a prison cell", DAM worked with the classical oud players Trio Joubran and Lebanese percussionist Bachar Khalife (the son of legendary composer and oud player Marcel Khalife). The result is a melancholic, non-traditional hip-hop song heavily influenced by classical Arabic composition and instruments.

Dedication was an album where they told the facts; Dabke on the Moon is more like a feature film where they tell stories. Musically and lyrically each album reflects a different age.

2013 - Room No. 4[edit]

In 2013, Tamer Nafar directed the photography campaign Room No. 4[12] to protest child arrests in east Jerusalem. The campaign[13] illustrated the reality faced by the children when arrested and detained and is based on the children’s testimonies in the report. Room No. 4 is an interrogation room in the Russian Compound – the main Israeli police office in Jerusalem – where Palestinian residents of Jerusalem, including children, are investigated.

2014 - "#Who_U_R"[edit]

In 2014, Tamer Nafar together with DAM released "#Who_U_R" that was directed by Oscar-nominated Palestinian filmmaker Scandar Copti. "#Who_U_R"[14][15] was written in response to the rape of 16-year-old Texan teenager, Jada, whose assault was recorded, shared and mocked on social media in 2014.

Tamer stated, “Women's struggle is beyond the Middle East. It’s an international struggle.” He discusses how the concept was to “take the social part of my individual progress and to take my social issues to the international stage.”[16]

The song generated a Twitter campaign throughout the Middle East. The hashtag #Who_You_R encouraged men to send in photos of themselves doing housework as a way to break gender norms and support women.

2016 - Junction 48[edit]

Most recently, Tamer starred in the feature film Junction 48 directed by Udi Aloni and written by Nafar and Oren Moverman.[17][18] Nafar’s youth and early years as a rapper formed the basis for this semiautobiographical movie. The film won the Audience Award at the Berlin Film Festival, Best International Film in Tribeca and 2 awards in Slovakia Art Film Festival - for Best Film and Best Male Actor (Tamer).

As an actor and a writer, Tamer’s work has appeared in numerous plays in Israel/Palestine and Europe. He has performed alongside veteran Palestinian directors Norman Issa and Nizar Zoabi in Anton Chekhov’s plays and was recently featured in Aunti Adipos-A Memorial for Shulamit by Udi Aloni at the National Theatre of Mannheim alongside Israeli actor Itay Tiran and Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Žižek.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ [1]
  2. ^ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zIo6lyP9tTE
  3. ^ [2]
  4. ^ [3]
  5. ^ "DAM".
  6. ^ "Democracy Now 2008".
  7. ^ "Palestinian band DAM who rap in Hebrew". The National. Retrieved 2018-07-30.
  8. ^ "Wolgin Award".
  9. ^ "First-Ever Arab Rappers Challenge Human Rights Violations in Middle East". kcet.org. 11 September 2015.
  10. ^ "Slingshot Hip-Hop".
  11. ^ "Dabke on the Moon".
  12. ^ "Room #4".
  13. ^ "Room No.4" (PDF).
  14. ^ "Who you are".
  15. ^ "972 Mag- Who you are".
  16. ^ "Who you are Interview with Tamer".
  17. ^ Kenigsberg, Ben (2017-03-02). "Review: 'Junction 48': An Arab Rapper's Refuge Amid Charged Politics". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2017-12-25.
  18. ^ Weissberg, Jay (2016-04-21). "Film Review: 'Junction 48'". Variety. Retrieved 2017-12-25.

External links[edit]