American-Palestinian Rapper Iron Sheik speaks

Yo!Speak for ourselves and speak out
Can’t be ashamed cuz we gotta be

The Iron Shiek
June, 2003 show in Pittsburgh

Palestinian-American rapper, The Iron Sheik aka Will Youmans talks to the San Francisco Chronicle about uh… being both Palestinian and American, and a rapper. OK, I started that out quite snarkily, but this long article is actually note worthy for several reasons.

The Sheik discusses the Palestinian immigrant experience – describing how Palestinian Americans deal with prejudice and suspicion in a way that is reminiscent of American Jewish experiences.

Many of the 70,000 or more Palestinians in the United States … arrived as refugees and tried to fade into their new surroundings. In “Growing Up,” Will raps about Arabs who deny their roots to avoid prejudice: “Some hide their identity and claim Italy, or some other country, doing what they do to blend in for protection. … Ali’s name becomes Antonio from Spain.”

He also borrowed the name Iron Shiek from the 80s era WWF wrestler who portrayed a stereotypicaly evil Arab.

“He was the stereotypical Middle Easterner and was part of the media representations that teach young Arab Americans that we are the bad guys. I decided to co-opt it in order to redefine my community: to speak for ourselves while smashing stereotypes.”

Hey man, do you read Heeb Magazine perhaps?

The rest of the article devolves into the standard Palestinian sob story of endless, one-sided victimization. Once again, I am not unsympathetic, but why do Palestinians steadfastly refuse to accept at least some responsibility for their situation? I read the entire article hoping for some balance, some nuance, some… something. Nope. Nothing. Again. Anyhow, I threw 2 Iron Sheik tracks into playalicious (top left, under the lips) – Propaganda, a song that mimmics the standard AIPAC pro-Israel line (featuring a nasal typically Jewish voice) and Olive Tree a sort of history of Palestine 101. Uh… enjoy? However, if you think Olive Tree is a response to Propaganda, you’ll be sorely disappointed. Youmans ironically enough does indeed make a great case for Israel ….

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  1. Mike

    8/23/2004 at 4:17 am

    “Israel and America’s a sinking ship” from Olive Trees — some American indeed

  2. ck

    8/23/2004 at 4:21 am

    Nice quote! Yeah I heard that too. I wouldn’t call him unamerican though – I mean it is a free country and all that. What I DO find curious though is if America is indeed a sinking ship, why does this new generation of American Palestinians stay in America? Why not move to the areas administered by the PA? Just curious…

  3. zygazint

    8/26/2004 at 1:23 pm

    what do you call a palestinian american????

    a jordanian with a passport

  4. Ehud Hakak

    11/16/2005 at 1:37 am

    I think that the guy is harmless. Let him rap, who cares. I like the Israeli rappers myself.

  5. ka

    1/19/2006 at 9:06 pm

    the iron sheik is bringing his experience to you in a form that you can choose to understand or not. Dissent is a very American concept. if you actually listened to these songs you would know why a palestinian can’t go home. Not like any Jew, they can get Isreali citizenship can’t they?

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