Arrivals: Antithesis of a Rapper

Samuel Green, 27, from Kingston, London, to Tel Aviv, June 2010.

Arrivals: Antithesis of a Rapper (photo credit: courtesy)
Arrivals: Antithesis of a Rapper
(photo credit: courtesy)
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 limited understanding.”
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 here.
“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.
“First of 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 success.
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.”
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.