JTA Article Questions Whether ‘I Fell in Love With a Jew’ Rap Song is Antisemitic

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As I have posted, antisemitism at a recent Duke/UNC conference on the Gaza conflict made headlines after a Ami Horowitz expose of it, leading to some sponsors demanding their money back, and a congressman seeking a government investigation into it.

One of the examples of antisemitism was a rapper introducing and then singing a song called Mama, I Fell in Love with a Jew. And believe it or not, Ben Sales of the Jewish Telegraph Agency (JTA) has penned an article questioning whether it is, indeed, antisemitic.

This is my anti-Semitic song,” Tamer Nafar, a Palestinian-Israeli rapper, said at the opening of a conference on Gaza last month at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

“I know it might sound [like] R&B stuff, but don’t think of Rihanna when you sing it, don’t think of Beyonce,” he continued. “Think of Mel Gibson. Go that anti-Semitic. Let’s try it together because I need your help. I cannot be anti-Semitic alone.”

Nafar then launched into “Mama, I fell in love with a Jew,” a joking song about a Palestinian who becomes infatuated with an Israeli woman soldier while stuck in an elevator. (Sample lyric: “Was it meant to be? Could she be the one?/Her name is not Janie but she’s got a gun.”)

Was the performance anti-Semitic? Was Nafar just kidding? Even if he was kidding, is it still anti-Semitic?

In late March, the Middle East Studies departments at Duke University and UNC co-sponsored a conference called “Conflict over Gaza: People, Politics, and Possibilities.” Much of the conference consisted of panels and speeches by academic and policy experts.

But the opening night of the conference featured Nafar’s performance. The musician, who identifies as Palestinian, is a citizen of Israel and a member of the Palestinian hip-hop group DAM, which has been active since 2000. One of its songs was the theme for “Arab Labor,” a sitcom in Israel about Arab Israelis. This year, ahead of the Israeli elections held last week, he wrote a song encouraging Arab Israelis to vote.

In the weeks following the conference, the UNC Hillel put out a statement criticizing what it called the overall anti-Israel bias of the conference, as well as calls by some speakers for a boycott of Israel, but not Nafar’s song. It appears to have become an issue only after Ami Horowitz, a pro-Israel videographer, released video from the conference last week that included a clip of Nafar talking about anti-Semitism onstage but not the song’s lyrics.

The Jewish Telegraphic Agency reached out to Nafar for comment. After communicating with JTA over the course of a day, he did not respond with a statement by press time.

But Elyse Crystall, a comparative literature associate professor at UNC who is the faculty adviser for the campus chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine, said she felt that Nafar was ironically poking fun at American notions that Palestinians and Arabs are anti-Semitic.

“The way I heard that was, ‘All of you here probably think that because I’m Palestinian, I’m anti-Semitic, and maybe you’ve been sitting here waiting for me to say something negative, so here’s the song you’ve been waiting for,’” she said. “I don’t think he was being anti-Semitic. I think he was satirizing our own stereotypes of Palestinians and maybe Arabs more generally as anti-Semitic.”

While Sales reached out for comment from this pro palestinian (and I assume anti-Israel) associate professor, what he didn’t bother doing is to actually look at the song lyrics.



I’m in love with a Jew;
I fell in love with a Jew
Her skin is white, my skin is brown
She was going up, I was going down
I’m in love with a Jew;
I fell in love with a Jew
Her skin is white, my skin is brown
She was going up, I was going down
Tamer Nafar:
In the elevator, no electricity
Between us, there was electricity
Was it meant to be? Could she be the one?
Her name ain’t JAnie but she’s got a gun
Do I speak Hebrew? a bit hard for me
“YESH AVODA?” Means; u gotta job for me?
Does she speak Arabic? She said a word or two
“WAKEF YA BATUKHAK” means; Freeze or I shoots
Oops, she felt suffocated;
I felt that the elevator is bigger than my house, house
She felt sweaty, so she got ready
To change her blouse blouse
Ouch, I have to make a move soon
Looks better on u, the green don’t suit u
She was cool, and made a move too
She said “without the sniper lens, you look cute too”
(Suhell Nafar & Mahmood Jrery)
I’m in love with a Jew;
I fell in love with a Jew
Her skin is white, my skin is brown
She was going up, I was going down
I’m in love with a Jew;
I fell in love with a Jew
Her skin is white, my skin is brown
She was going up, I was going down
Tamer Nafar:
In the elevator, we fought the nightmares
She shared her dreams and so I shared
She wanna be a Pilot, search the sky
My dream is not to be searched every time I fly
Be ambitious she said “If you want it’s not a legend”
Hertzl said while standing on the balcony
For shizzel I said, ama use that saying
Soon as they allow me to build a balcony
Build a house; invite you to my room, Play “Inta
Oumri” mish Zahave Ben Oum Kulthum
And Boom, ama take you to heaven
All she heard was boom and heaven
I said 69 she heard 67
All I wanna make is sweet love,
But if you want tough love too, we gotta
Change the roles, this time I handcuff you
I’m in love with a Jew;
I fell in love with a Jew
Her skin is white, my skin is brown
She was going up, I was going down
I’m in love with a Jew;
I fell in love with a Jew
Her skin is white, my skin is brown
She was going up, I was going down
Mahmood Jrery:
شو قصتها وقصتي؟
لما انا احكي وهي تحكي
بتحب العرب هي قالتلي
وبلحظه مطاعم البلد سمتلي
مسكت مشاعري, علاقه معك بدي ابني
حكتلي: وانا بدي اياك تبني
مسكت شعري فهت انا واياكي بنلتقي
لما شغل عرب يبدا او الاحتلال ينتهي
C Part (Suhell Nafar)
I’m in love I’m in love I’m in love
I’m in love I’m in love I’m in love
I’m in love I’m in love I’m in love
I’m in love I’m in love I’m in love
I’m in love I’m in love I’m in love
I’m in love with a Jew;
I fell in love with a Jew
Her skin is white, my skin is brown
She was going up, I was going down
I’m in love with a Jew;
I fell in love with a Jew
Her skin is white, my skin is brown
She was going up, I was going down
I’m in love with a Jew;
I fell in love with a Jew
Her skin is white, my skin is brown
She was going up, I was going down
I’m in love with a Jew;
I fell in love with a Jew
Her skin is white, my skin is brown
She was going up, I was going down

Besides the song using a play on words to describe wanton Jewish violence against palestinian Arabs, it also perpetuates the idea that “white” Jews came and conquered the “dark” Arabs. This is a common trope of the antisemites; the idea that Jews are from Europe and not indigenous to the land of Israel. It is a particularly pernicious form of delegitimizing our history.

Nothing about this song pokes “ironically pokes fun at American notions that Palestinians and Arabs are anti-Semitic.” It is outright antisemitism.

Nafar’s introductory comments to the song, as well as the excuse by the associate professor, seek to undermine the very real problem of antisemitism among Arabs, and, in fact, among the “anti-Zionist” crowd in general. Also bear in mind that the conference contained other examples of antisemitic sentiment, as the Ami Horowitz video exposes.

Nafar’s comments and song performance did not occur in a vacuum. He was performing to a crowd containing many rabid Jew haters. It was very much him playing a song digging at Jews to an appreciative crowd.

How Ben Sales of the JTA can ignore all of this is beyond me. Then again, he also writes this:

The video of Nafar’s performance came during the same week that anti-Semitic fliers were found at a library on the UNC campus. The fliers warned of “an evil Jewish plot” and said “do everything you can to fight the silent covert Jewish attempt to enslave and kill good Americans,” according to the UNC Hillel.

No one has drawn a link between the conference and the fliers.

Of course there is a link. Israel Apartheid Week always brings the antisemites out to play.

I am not buying what Ben is selling. And neither should you. Shame on him and the JTA for seeking to brush this Jew hatred under the carpet.

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An Aussie immigrant to Israel, David Lange is founder and managing editor of Israellycool. He is a happy family man, and a lover of steak, Australian sports and single malt whisky.