Music can play key peace role
On our first date Husband and I established that we had lots in common: we had both taken the road less travelled, routes not normally associated with nice Jewish boys and girls; we were both artistic; both had lost our dads far too young. And we were both passionate about Israel, the peace process and supporting it in any way we could.
Over the last five years we have talked often about how to initiate an arts-based project that would combine Israeli and Palestinian young people in dialogue through creativity.
His company, Point Blank, uses music, songwriting and production to get young people off the streets, out of gangs and off drugs by engaging them in something they love: music. Could this template work in Israel?
Well blow me down, he only went and did it. It has taken him five years of breaking down prejudices and raising the finance but, thanks to Windows for Peace and the Raynes Foundation, last month our dream finally became a reality.
Nineteen teenagers aged between 15-17 lived with each other in Tel Aviv for two weeks. They consisted of Israeli Jews, Israeli Arabs and Palestinians from the West Bank, and for many it was the first time they had met anyone from “the other side”. Three music industry professionals from Point Blank oversaw the project. The idea was that the teenagers were to write and record a song together and a video to go with it. The result is a single called A Step for Peace, which has been released on YouTube, Myspace and Facebook. The kids met on day one with fairly strong opinions of the other side. One 15-year-old Palestinian girl said “I thought Israeli people were bad and that they thought of us as bad — now I’ve changed my thoughts on Israelis.” An Israeli girl of 14 later said: “It’s fantastic that we are talking because we are supposed to be enemies.”
They consisted of Israeli Jews, Israeli Arabs and Palestinians from the West Bank, and for many it was the first time they had met anyone from the other side
The wonderful thing about the project is that these youngsters had to live with each other 24/7 — cooking, eating and sleeping under the same roof. Often it had required great courage to participate in the face of community pressures and even threats. With the music as the glue to bind them, real relationships were formed.
“Put your egos on the side, give up hatred and false pride, together we can make peace, in the Middle East” — the last few lines of A Step for Peace (check it out on MySpace).
Wise words indeed from the youth of the Middle East. If this is the future then bring it on!