Too often the streets of Israeli and Palestinian residents are haunted by the cries of mothers, the sobs of daughters and the sound of gun shots. In the same streets where children take their first steps, bullets force last breaths from those caught in the cross-fire. The roots of conflict often lie in mistrust and misunderstanding – and the recent shooting of Fadel Mohammed Halawa, a 32-year-old Palestinian searching for songbirds near the Israeli border, is one more example of its damaging effects.
However, amongst narratives of war, death and violence which claim national and international headlines, there is a chorus of young voices, disdainful of violence, that should not be drowned out. Heartbeat is an award-winning grassroots organisation that brings together young Israelis and Palestinians to play music together. Together they put on concerts, record songs and videos to put online, and in the process learn to trust and understand ‘the other side’.
Heartbeat gives these young people a way of amplifying their voices – voices that challenge the status quo and call for the building of bridges, not of walls. As the lyrics written by one participant say:
“Maybe instead of destroying, let’s build.
Maybe instead of fear, let’s believe.
Maybe instead of screaming, let’s be quiet.
Maybe instead of being against, let’s be for.
Maybe instead of being separate, let’s be together.”
(- Guy, Guitarist, former soldier, age 23)
Heartbeat provides young people like Guy with an opportunity to meet, work together, build understanding and break down the barriers that sustain violence. Through music programmes run by Heartbeat, young people from both sides of the conflict learn skills in non-violence and dialogue alongside song writing, performance, communication and leadership – and with these tools they learn to respect the people they grew up hating.
Heartbeat won the technology and peacebuilding prize in our 2014 Tomorrow’s Peacebuilders competition for their efforts to use technology to bridge the divides between Israelis and Palestinians. Watch out for more about the wonderful work of Heartbeat over the next few days via post or email.