Local Rap Star Urges Arabs to Vote in Israeli Election ‘Or End Up Outside the Homeland’

Controversial rap artist Tamer Nafar is urging Arab youth not to boycott the upcoming Israeli election in a newly released song and video, contending that they must use the ballot box to fight the “fascists” who want to transfer them out of Israel.

>> Israel election 2019: Full coverage

The song’s chorus declares: “The fascist goes, and everything goes his way. Either we vote or end up outside of the homeland.”

– Tamer Nafar

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Trump’s peace plan and the Arab vote in the Israeli election: A talk with lawmaker Ahmad TibiHaaretz / YouTube

Nafar’s skeptical side argues that participating in the system supports a government that bombs Gaza, that Israel is “using” Arab votes “to look liberal” and that all politicians — including those from the Arab sector — are worthless.

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“Did they deal with poverty? Did they bring us
schools and jobs? After all, we only see them out
there during elections Why should I lose a day’s
work? I voted last time and it fell apart.”

His alter ego responds:

“If our vote
will erase Liberman, imprison Bibi, then we’re ready”

He adds:

“Don’t underestimate their fascism
Look what they did to our grandparents
Tell Bennett, tell Shaked, that I’m not moving
Tell Feiglin that I’m not moving
Tell Smotrich that I’m not moving
Tell Kahane’s cronies that I’m not moving
I wanted to boycott but decided I don’t want to stay outside
For my brothers and sisters in ’67 I’m going to vote
For the March of Return I’m going to vote
It doesn’t make sense for me to give up a tool when I hardly have any tools.”

Nafar has publicly clashed several times in recent years with Israel’s Culture Minister Miri Regev. In 2016, Regev walked out during Nafar’s performance at the Israeli equivalent of the Oscars after a poem by Palestinian national poet Mahmoud Darwish was read.  

Nafar referred to the incident in his new song, noting that “when Miri tried to get me off the stage, they stood with me” and arguing that Arab politicians in the Knesset have value and should not be viewed as being solely responsible for the problems in their communities.

“During every crisis they stood and presented my pain and yours.
In any case, poverty’s not the work of your brothers, but rather your cousins,” the rapper chants, blaming Arab citizens’ troubles on Jewish, not Arab forces in the government.

Israeli Arabs make up enough of the electorate — about 17 percent, equivalent to slightly more than 20 seats in the 120-seat Knesset  — to significantly impact the election. Theoretically, if they turn out in significant numbers, their votes could push a center-left bloc into power. But if, as in previous years, a significant percentage sit the election out, the advantage goes to the right, led by Netanyahu.

In the 2015 election, some 63 percent of the Arab electorate turned out (compared to an overall voting rate was of 72 percent). Two years earlier, only  54 percent turned out (compared with a 62 percent in the general population). According to a new poll, the proportion of Arabs saying that they intend to vote on April 9 had dropped by 19 percent from the 2015 figure. 

The drop in Arab participation could be equivalent to nearly two and a half Knesset seats, with nearly all of the benefit going to the center-right bloc.