Posted by: Sarah Standish | October 27, 2011

Extra Credit Events: Perspectives on Arab-Israeli Rap

There are several exciting extra credit events coming up next week.  Lincoln will be hosting the Arab-Israeli rap group DAM for an OPTIONAL assembly on Friday, November 4th.  This in-school activity is not an extra-credit activity, but students can receive extra credit for attending any one of these three related outside events:

1) “Music, Expression, and Education” panel discussion.  What are some different perspectives on DAM?  Why are they controversial among some groups?  What do they have to teach us about the value of listening to different opinions, even ones with which they disagree?  Come hear perspectives about these questions from a range of groups. Panelists include:

  • Ellisheva Cohen – Outreach Coordinator for the Portland State University Middle Eastern Studies Center
  • Ben Sandler –  Education Director at Temple Beth Israel,  from
  • Shuli Rutzick – Modern Israel and Comparative Judaism teacher from Temple Beth Israel,
  • Sarah Standish – Lincoln Arabic teacher
  • Bob Hornstein – Communications Director of the Jewish Federation of Greater Portland.
  • Frank Afranji of PGE
  • Kanaan Kanaan – Faculty Member and Interactive Media Instructor at Portland State University
  • Pam Hall, Lincoln Modern World History teacher, will act as moderator.
When and where: The panel will take place at Lincoln High School (room TBD) at 6 pm on Tuesday, November 1st.
2) Screening of Slingshot Hip Hop followed by Q&A the film’s director Jackie Salloum
“The documentary film Slingshot Hip Hop (2008), screened as part of the Middle East Studies Center Film Series, 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. From internal checkpoints and Separation Walls to gender norms and generational differences, this is the story of young people crossing the borders that separate them. The event will feature a discussion with the film’s Director, Jackie Reem Salloum.”
When: 5:30 pm on Friday, November 4th
Where:  Salmon Street Studio, 109 SE Salmon St., Portland
3) Performance by DAM
When: 8:00 pm on Friday, November 4th
Where:  Salmon Street Studio, 109 SE Salmon St., Portland

These all ages events are free and open to the public.

If student attend any of the above events and turn in a 300-word reflection written in accordance with the extra credit guidelines, he or she will receive extra credit in Arabic class.

Please find the full text of a letter I am sending home to the parents of Lincoln Arabic students after the jump.

Dear Parents of Arabic students,

As you are probably aware, Lincoln High School will be hosting the Arab-Israeli rap group DAM on November 4th during third period.

Arabic students are invited to come to room 135 at the beginning of third period to hear DAM talk about the role of the Arabic language in their art and ask questions. During the last half of the period, we will move to the auditorium to attend an optional assembly in which DAM will discuss the wider context of their work and art and answer questions.  This optional assembly will be attended by some classes whose curriculum is related to the topic of the assembly, primarily ninth-grade social studies classes.

I would like to emphasize a few things:

–          This event is not compulsory in any way.

–          DAM is a group composed of Arab-Israelis; that is, they are Arabs who live in Israel and are Israeli citizens.

–          DAM does not advocate violence of any kind. Instead, they encourage others to express themselves through music and art.

–          DAM is a secular group.

–          DAM is critical of actions taken by the Israeli government; however, they do not criticize or insult Jewish people as a people. As Israeli citizens, they know that there is a difference between a people and their government.

–          DAM represents only one viewpoint on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Students know that DAM only represents their own views and does not represent any kind of definitive truth about the conflict. I encourage students to listen to their music with a critical ear and ask any questions that arise for them.

To give you an idea of DAM’s message, here is a brief sampling of some of their lyrics:

From “Driver of Fate”:

Tell the driver of time, to take me from Forbidden

Drop me in Equality and I’ll walk alone to Peace

Don’t tell me they are not on the same track

There is a place called Peace and its capital is Equality

From “Change Tomorrow”:

We want education, we want improvement

To have the ability to change tomorrow

We want education, we want improvement

To have the ability to change tomorrow

[…]

Jews, Christians and Muslims

None of these sides wants to understand the other

Every side thinks they’re better than the other

Claiming that he’s the only one going to heaven

[…]

We will paint our culture, we feel it even though we can’t see it

The ones who erased it, still didn’t erase us

They torture us?! Ohhh, if you can’t take it

Don’t grab a gun, but grab a pen and write

I’M AN ARAB like Mahmud Darwish did

I’ll never kill the others just to live.

You can read more DAM lyrics at http://www.damrap.com.

If you have any concerns or are curious to learn about other viewpoints on this event, I invite you to attend an evening panel on the topic titled “Music, Expression and Education” at 6:00 pm on November 1st  in the Lincoln Cafeteria. Panelists include Elly Cohen from PSU’s Middle Eastern Studies Center, Education Director Ben Sandler from Temple Beth Israel, Modern Israel and Comparative Judaism teacher Shuli Rutzick from Temple Beth Israel, Bob Hornstein from the Jewish Federation of Portland, Kanaan Kanaan of PSU, Frank Afranji of PSU, and myself.  The panel will be moderated by Lincoln Modern World History teacher Pam Hall. Because I would like students to have access to a range of opinions on this issue, your child can receive extra credit for attending the panel and writing a 300-word reflection on what they heard.

Lincoln is a college preparatory program IB World School that aims to develop inquiring, knowledgeable and caring young people who help to create a better and more peaceful world through intercultural understanding and respect. Lincoln encourages students to become active compassionate and lifelong learners who understand that other people, with their differing perspectives and experiences can both be right.

This event also supports some of the National Standards for Foreign Language Learning as designated by the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages:

  • Standard 2.2: Students demonstrate an understanding of the relationship between the products and perspectives of the culture studied. In this case, the “product” is music and the “perspective” is the relationship between art and self-expression for Arab-Israelis.
  •  Standard 3.2: Students acquire information and recognize the distinctive viewpoints that are only available through the foreign language and its cultures. Studying the music of Arab-Israelis allows students access to a viewpoint not commonly represented in English-language media.
  • Standard 4.2: Students demonstrate understanding of the concept of culture through comparisons of the cultures studied and their own.  Comparisons of Arab and American rap will allow students a deeper understanding of the cultures and sociological contexts that produce both.

With best wishes,

Sarah Standish

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