Tom Faber’s piece drives younger Guardian readers towards a hatred of Israel.

The Guardian has a trendy hip-hop section but after reading Tom Faber’s recent interview with Palestinian hip-hop duo BLTNM, made up of Shabjdeed and Al Nather, we weren't sure if the piece’s main aim was to profile them or whitewash Israel out of existence.
BLTNM music video with anti "whitewashing" and "pinkwashing" T-Shirt.
BLTNM music video with anti “whitewashing” and “pinkwashing” T-Shirt.

By Richard Millett

The Guardian has a trendy hip-hop section but after reading Tom Faber’s recent interview with Palestinian hip-hop duo BLTNM, made up of Shabjdeed and Al Nather, I wasn’t sure if the piece’s main aim was to profile them or whitewash Israel out of existence.

The piece is headlined ‘If Israeli soldiers start shooting, we won’t stop the interview’: Palestinian hip-hop crew BLTNM. That suggests the piece might actually more neatly fit the news or politics section, as opposed to hip-hop.

Faber describes BLTNM as part of “Palestine’s rich hip-hop heritage” (emphasis added) and how he hears their music “tumble from the bars of Haifa”. Faber doesn’t say Haifa is in Israel, so a younger reader would probably conclude it’s in “Palestine”.

Faber prolongs this theme by writing “Few places in the region have a hip-hop heritage as rich as Palestine’s. Their first stars were DAM, a group from the city of Lod…” (again emphasis added). Faber doesn’t say Lod is actually in Israel and so, again, a younger reader would probably conclude it’s in “Palestine”.

Faber helpfully provides a link where DAM describe themselves as “Palestinian citizens of Israel”. So Dam are actually an Israeli band, not from “Palestine”.

Faber then writes about how Shabjdeed hasn’t known anything apart from living under “occupation”. Faber provides no background at all to the conflict so a younger reader would probably conclude that “Palestine” is an existing country or region that was illegally invaded by Israel.

Just one sentence mentioning 1967 could have sent the younger reader off into a world of fascinating research about what happened, but Faber’s piece is kept deeply sectarian.

Shabjdeed discusses “the occupation” saying:

“We’re used to it. They [Israeli soldiers] could come here, start shooting, and we wouldn’t even stop the interview. It’s like traffic in London.”

So, Israeli soldiers just turn up in Ramallah and start shooting the place up? No examples are given by Shabjdeed or Faber of this but a younger reader will conclude that Israelis must be pretty nasty to do such a thing.

The Guardian has also embedded a 35 minute music video of the hip-hop duo called Boiler Room Palestine. One of the duo sports a T-Shirt bearing the words “Anti Whitewashing and Pinkwashing Club”, an obvious reference to the vile accusation that Israel uses its rich culture, including gay festivals, simply to wash away its oppression of Palestinians.

Faber’s piece is actually an inversion of that accusation; his piece uses hip-hop to virtually whitewash Israel and its culture out of existence while also driving younger readers towards a hatred of Israelis.

But just maybe that’s why it was posted in the hip-hop section, instead of news or politics, afterall.

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