Palestinian Rapper to Include Darwish Poem in 'Israeli Oscars' Performance

Tamer Nafar will appear at the ceremony despite his claim earlier in the week that the Israeli Film Academy was trying to censor his performance.

A scene from Udi Aloni's "Junction 48" shows Samar Qupty as Manar, left, and Tamer Nafar as Kareem.
Amnon Zalaita, AP

Palestinian rapper Tamer Nafar will appear at the Ophir Award ceremony on Thursday night after all, following the resolution of a mid-week dispute between him and the Israeli Film Academy.

Dubbed the "Israeli Oscars," the Ophir Award ceremony, which will take place in Ashdod, is organized by the academy to recognize excellence in the local film industry. The awards are popularly known as the Israeli Oscars.

Nafar and his Jewish collaborator Yossi Tzabari had previously accused the academy of attempting to censor them over their intention to include a poem by Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish in their performance at the Ophir ceremony.

After a meeting between the two sides on Thursday, Nafar said that he was satisfied with the agreement reached and would be appearing at the ceremony. He refused, however, to divulge details of the agreement, saying that both sides had agreed to refrain from disclosing details.

The world's most recognized Palestinian poet, Mahmoud Darwish, gestures during a reading in the northern Israeli city of Haifa Sunday, July 15, 2007. Darwish, considered by many to be the Palestinian poet laureate, made his first appearance in Israel on Sunday since leaving for Lebanon and Jordan in 1971.
Gil Cohen Magenת AP

The only thing he would say was that "Darwish will be there."

Nafar himself is a candidate for two Ophir awards – Best Actor for his role in the film "Junction 48," and Best Music for a film score he composed with Itamar Siegler.

In a letter send to the academy at the start of the week, Nafar and three other Palestinian candidates for Ophir awards accused it of deciding to censor the performance of Nafar and Tzabari "just because it includes the song 'Take note, I'm an Arab,' which Miri Regev and Avigdor Lieberman have censored."

Academy chairman Mush Danon responded that it was not a question of censorship but a requirement that the two artists give a preliminary performance in front of academy representatives in order to ensure that it was artistically suitable for the ceremony and television broadcast.

All the other performers in the ceremony had been asked to do the same, he said.

However, Nafar and Udi Aloni, director and producer of "Junction 48," maintained that the request for a preliminary performance was only made after the academy became aware that the performance would include a poem by Darwish. It came at the last moment, they said, and did not give Nafar and Tzabari time to prepare.

Danon wrote on his Facebook page after the meeting that "we are happy things worked out in the end. Even though the academy is not a political body, it provides a stage for film creators to showcase their creativity."