Young Rappers Abroad Tell It Like It Really Is


"We won't break no, we won't be scared no

"We won't lose our desire for life

"We are the real reason behind the need to keep on marching here."

Was this written by soldiers during the heat of battle? Revolutionaries or resistance fighters? No. It is the chorus of the rap song "We Won't Break." Not a rap song by 50 Cent or Eminem, but one written and recorded by Israeli teenagers.

Teenagers who have grown up in the face of constant bombing from Gaza leading to Operation Cast Lead, Israel's war in Gaza last winter. Drenched with raw emotion, the lyrics cannot help rending our hearts. But when you listen to these young adults sing, their voices sound a clarion call to Jews in the Diaspora: "We are the real reason behind the need to keep on marching here."

In mid-November, I participated on a one-week trip to Israel with Pennsylvania gubernatorial candidate Dan Onorato and other Pennsylvanians. As with all trips to Israel, we were simultaneously exhausted and exhilarated.

We did the familiar (praying at the Western Wall, climbing Masada, touring the Old City of Jerusalem, walking in Tel Aviv); the unfamiliar (Capernium, Peter's Primacy and Nazareth); the modern historical (a tour of the Syrian and Lebanese borders); and the educational (visits to the Jewish Agency for Israel sites in Netivot and Carmiel, sponsored by the Philadelphia and Pittsburgh federations).

Yet nothing came close to the wallop of hearing firsthand the emotional impact the Gaza bombings had on the Israeli population in southern Israel. We met with an Israel Defense Force captain near Netivot, outside Gaza. We've all heard the stories of Israelis in the south living for eight years under threat, having only 15 seconds to get to a safe room or bomb shelter after Hamas launched another rocket. But hearing this man's own story of serving in the recent war, learning how the experiences of living under constant threat took a dramatic toll on his family, seeing the look in this soldier's eyes as he told the tale — this changed us.

And then, we ended the day with the rap song. Through the pain, the fear, the anxiety and the stress, these remarkable young Israelis came together to write and sing these words:

"We won't break no, we won't be scared no

"We won't lose our desire for life

"We are the real reason behind the need to keep on marching here."

The last line resonates most deeply. As Danny Gordis, an American-born Israeli and author of several books on Jewish thought and currents in Israel, said to a group of us during a separate trip in July: "In America, parents protect their children; in Israel, children protect their parents."

Despite the external and internal threats Israel faces, as we approach Chanukah, we must acknowledge another miracle taking place.

For only the third time in our history, we have a sovereign Jewish state in Israel. True to their lyrics, these Israeli young adults are the real reason to keep on marching. And it's our duty to do whatever we can to make that miraculous march as long and peaceful as possible.

Robert Fox is managing partner of the law firm Manko, Gold, Katcher & Fox, LLP. He serves on the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia's board of trustees, Leadership Institute, and Center for Israel and Overseas.


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