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 ….

About the author


Founder and Publisher of Jewlicious, David Abitbol lives in Jerusalem with his wife, newborn daughter and toddler son. Blogging as "ck" he's been blocked on twitter by the right and the left, so he's doing something right.


  • 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…

  • what do you call a palestinian american????

    a jordanian with a passport

  • 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?