Although “Antithesis” may not be the catchiest name for a rapper, it’s the stage
name of 27-year-old Samuel Green, who made aliya from London in June
2010. “It was a friend’s idea,” says Green. “I’m basically the opposite
of the rapper stereotype – white, Jewish and middle-class – hence Antithesis
(also known as ‘the Zionist Rapper’).”
In England, he ran a radio show,
Kol Cambridge; performed in Trafalgar Square on Yom Ha’atzmaut; and made CDs in
English and Hebrew, which sold well and the proceeds of which went to charity –
Israel, of course.
At Cambridge, where he majored in Oriental studies and
came in top of his class, he was on a list of the top 100 most talented
students. And the Jewish Chronicle power list named him one of the 100 most
influential Jews in the country because of his chairmanship and long connection
with the Federation of Zionist Youth (FZY).
His aim in life is to try and
restore the perception of Zionism as a positive value, and his specific aim in
Israel is to make a positive contribution, however big or small, to the future
of the Jewish people.Before aliyah
Green was born in London to a Zionist
family. His parents, both lawyers, had forebears who were connected to the
Zionist movement from its inception.
“My great-grandfather attended one
of the early Zionist congresses in London, and another grandparent ran FZY in
the ’30s,” says Green. He worked for a year as the executive director of FZY,
and before that spent a gap year here in Israel on one of the movement’s
projects, studying, volunteering and spending some time in the army. That was
the year he wrote “Ima Mehaka Babayit” (Mother is Waiting at Home), a rap song
about Israel’s MIAs, whose plight touched him deeply. He sang it at a huge rally
in London on Yom Ha’atzmaut of that year, 2001.
With his Zionist
upbringing, aliya was clearly going to happen sometime, and he concedes that the
growing anti-Semitism and delegitimization of Israel that are so prevalent in
Britain today probably speeded things up for him.
“It can be unpleasant
at times, especially at university, being surrounded by people who despise you
because of what you stand for,” he says. “If they are well-informed, you can
respect their opinion, but so many critics of Israel base their judgment on
After graduating, he took a job in a large
multinational company in Geneva, knowing it would be simpler to make aliya from
there since he would be assured of a job in the same company
“Unfortunately our degrees, even Cambridge ones, are less valued
than business degrees here,” he says.
He settled in Tel Aviv and began
work immediately. The official language in the office is English, and he has a
great job with a lot of responsibility, working with a nice crowd he finds
intellectually stimulating. His Hebrew is good enough that he was
interviewed soon after arrival by Amos Arbel for the Israel Broadcasting
Authority’s local Tel Aviv news.
Life in Israel
What with work and
acquiring and improving an apartment, his rapping in Israel hasn’t yet gotten
into its stride, but he hopes to have more time to devote to music in the
future. Music has always played an important role in his life. His father
was an amateur singer and songwriter and his mother a keen dancer. One wonders
why he chose rap to express his powerful feelings about Israel.
all, you don’t actually need to be able to sing,” he says with a smile. “And
because it’s so verbose, you can put across a lot more information. In fact,
it’s a modern form of poetry, and I am able to express very deep feelings in my
rap. Can anyone do rap? Anyone can write the words, but you do need a sense of
rhythm to get the timing right.”
In February, he was asked to launch a
month-long “read-a-thon” event for a nonprofit organization called AHAVA, which
is dedicated to promoting English literacy for children in Israel. He performed
live at the Ma’aleh Adumim mall, read a short story for the children and, of
course, introduced them to rapping. By all accounts, the event was a huge
Green has made many friends since arriving in Tel Aviv,
as well as reconnecting with people he knew before from his gap year. He
has found kindred spirits especially among other young people from Europe,
rather than England.
“I didn’t see my place in Anglo-Jewry, so I didn’t
want to come here and live in Anglo- Jewry in Israel,” he says. “Somehow the
European mind-set suits me better.”Plans
Once he has finalized his
living accommodations, he intends to start rapping again, with the aim of
changing the skewed perception that Zionism has in the outside world. What
started out as a national liberation movement is now used as an insult, and
this, he feels, is unacceptable.
“I want people to be aware of what it
actually means,” says Green.