Culture, Mishegas, Religion

So apparently, Hip Hop Sulha is onto something…

Allhiphop reports that Michael “MC Serch” Berrin (a New York Jew) and Greensboro, North Carolina DJ Waleed Coyote (Lebanese/Palestinian) will collaborate on a compilation titled Peace in the Middle East, a new album made up of Arab and Jewish artists (doesn’t anyone think it’s interesting that people write ‘Arabs and Jews’ like the two are mutually exclusive?).
What I find interesting about this is that MC Serch has never been excessively expressive about his own Jewish heritage. My first recollection of him actually even discussing Judaism in a personal context was when MTV interviewed him back in the late 80s and he discussed how his rabbi told him not to hang around ‘the schvartzes’. Still, he introduced Non Phixion back on his old Serchlite imprint, and although that group dissolved, they’re membership represented to me a slept on contingent of American Jewry: urban (Christ on a crutch, I hate that term), street-wise, diverse, and unashamed of their heritage.
Mazel tov. I hope the project gets more press.

13 thoughts on “So apparently, Hip Hop Sulha is onto something…

  1. doesn’t anyone think it’s interesting that people write ‘Arabs and Jews’ like the two are mutually exclusive?
    I do; it sure fits in nicely with the motif of white (Jewish) people oppressing brown people.

  2. Joe Grossberg writes:
    “doesn’t anyone think it’s interesting that people write ‘Arabs and Jews’ like the two are mutually exclusive?
    I do; it sure fits in nicely with the motif of white (Jewish) people oppressing brown people. ”
    Well, exactly. Only since the 1970’s (and later, in some places in the USA) have any Jews been white. And many many many jews aren’t white even by that measure.

  3. The whole Arab AND Jewish thing is pretty unclear, as there’s really no universally agreed-upon definition of “Arab.” If it just means language and culture, sure. But if you extend it to “ethnicity” or even “descent,” the picture is pretty muddy.
    Under “Arab Jews” Wikipedia also notes the following. Not sure how accurate it is:
    “Prior to the emergence of the term “Mizrahi”, Arab Jews was sometimes used for Mizrahim originating in Arab lands, though not by the Mizrahim themselves. Because of political tensions stemming from the Arab-Israeli conflict, few Mizrahim identify themselves as ‘Arabs’ or ‘Arab Jews’. This term is mainly used in the Arab world.”
    I think the Black Panthers identified themselves as Arab Jews, mainly to point out their oppressed status.

  4. a) Y-Love should see if he can get on that album.
    b) Without being a total prick, Mobius, I will say that MC Serch’s reputation indulges several dozen terrible stereotypes gentiles have of Jews and our love of money. Perhaps more than several dozen. Several hundred dozen. Several hundred thousand dozen. So don’t feel singled out.

  5. serch has done more for (my own personally prefrerred brand of) hip-hop than most other producers. he executive produced nas’ first joint (bona fide classic). he executive produced nas’s 2nd joint (not a classic but a damn good album). he put KMD on (leading to two bona fide classics, including my all-time fav Black Bastards, and ultimately giving the world MF Doom, Danger Doom, etc.) and he dissed Hammer (for which he was almost merked in LA). dude is aight in my book. but he shoulda come through to the cipher gratis.

  6. doesn’t anyone think it’s interesting that people write ‘Arabs and Jews’ like the two are mutually exclusive?
    Yeah … it totally disses the post-Zionist pretensions of Ashkenazim who know nothing of the Middle East, and plays right into the hands of those ignoramus Mizrahi Jews who need to be instructed over and over again, carefully, that, really they are Arabs, no matter what they think.
    The term “Arab” as an identity only arose after the flight of Jews from other Middle Eastern countries. So it’s sort of academic — there has never been any such thing as an “Arab Jew” save the hey-aren’t-I-exotic Mizrahi post-Zionist movement known as Ella Shohat and her flock of followers.
    But, in the real world, no Middle Eastern ethnic minority from an Arab country is ever referred to as “Arab” except, well, the ethnic Arab majority. The Kurds aren’t. The Assyrians aren’t. Nor the Chaldeans or, for that matter, the Armenians. So “Arab Jew” has a meaning, sure. Its meaning is: there is no history of any Jewish people, only a bunch of locals who one day decided to affilaite with the Jewish religion.
    In other words, the Middle Eastern version of “fellow Germans of the Mosaic faith”, or of the “Ashkenazim are Khazar” canard. You should feel free to employ it, though no Mizrahi I know refers to themself as “Arab” anymore than any Ashkenazi I know refers to themself as “Slav”. But, well, you could also try knowing what the hell you’re talking about.

  7. James,
    Thanks for an instructive and seemingly well-informed explanation. On the other hand, the hostility is a bit perplexing. I have no idea whether or not it’s misplaced, but I’m not even sure at whom it’s directed, and it does make me a bit skeptical of your dispassion. It’s an interesting issue in any case, even for those of us who, indeed, don’t know what the hell we’re talking about

  8. I apologise. The hostility is because I believe many who use the term are being deliberately disingenuous. The deliberate disingenuousness I believe exists stems from what I see as a desire to erase the history of the Jewish people, in a bid to pander to extreme versions of anti-Zionism.
    The extreme versions of anti-Zionism I refer to are those which protest Israel’s existence not as an honest objection to nation-states, which is a perfectly reasonable position and an anti-nationalist anti-Zionism I respect, but rather those who protest Israel’s existence based in the idea that there exists no Jewish people which could exercise an international-law right to self-determination.
    In other words, I’m hostile to those I believe to be arguing in bad faith, because based in a racist philosophy..

  9. Ella Shohat’s hardly exoticist — she’s devoted her career to deconstructing such stereotypes. Mizrahi is a term she mobilizes in relation to the dominance of American diasporic Jewish culture by Ashkenazim (or the instatement of the Ashkenazi norm as dominant by white US culture) rather than as a nostalgic banner. Melanie Kaye/Kantrowitz’ _The Color of Jews_ is a powerful analysis of just this question in relation to Jewish anti-racist and peace work.

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