“Ana mish politi” — I am not political. So declares the character of Kareem, a Palestinian rapper and protagonist of the film Junction 48. For Palestinians, Kareem explains, being political is not a choice.
Tamer Nafar, the musician-turned-actor who stars as Kareem in the award-winning movie, performed the song “Ana mish politi” live at Israel’s equivalent of the Oscars, the Ophir Awards, in 2016. “Hummus, salad, chips on the side, you like to eat at our restaurants — this is coexistence,” he sang. “But when I bring too many of us to the restaurant, coexistence turns into a demographic threat.”
Nafar concluded his powerful performance by holding his clenched fist high in the air in a Black Panther-style salute. The rapper also read a poem by legendary Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish. Israel’s far-right government was furious. Extreme right-wing Culture Minister Miri Regev stormed out of the ceremony in a rage.