Would you have the courage to challenge something you had been told from birth? If you grew up fearing another person, could embrace a completely different story?
In Israel-Palestine, communities grow up with narratives about each other that divide them, separate them and lead to tragic violence.
Yet some have the courage to challenge these deeply entrenched divisions.
Moody is a young Palestinian who lives in Haifa, on the coast of Northern Israel. He is passionate about music, and a full-time rapper.
Moody’s life changed when he attended a concert in Tel Aviv where he performed with both Israeli and Palestinian musicians on stage.
This was Moody’s first experience with Heartbeat, a local organisation that brings young Israeli and Palestinian musicians together to challenge violence and promote equality and tolerance.
Moody explains: ‘’For me, it was a really big new chapter in my life that started. Heartbeat succeeded in creating a new reality, one community. We are a community today. We share thoughts and have the space for dialogue on topics that you see daily. We succeeded in building dignity, respect and understanding between people and our community.”
He discovered what matters is not what divides communities, but what brings them together. And music is very powerful in uniting the young people who participate in Heartbeat’s projects.
Thanks to Heartbeat, Moody realised that it is possible to break away from long-held judgements, and to see things from another point of view: “The biggest [thing I learned] is to judge less, or even not to judge, just to be between four eyes. But that’s only one of the one thousand things I took from the values Heartbeat passed to me.”
Through their music and in-depth workshops, Heartbeat enables young Israeli and Palestinian musicians to develop critical awareness, harness the transformative power of music and amplify their voices for peaceful change. It supports young Israelis and Palestinians to break down the walls that separate them, to discover, understand and respect each other.
Moody and his bandmates have at times faced criticism for their shows. Working in one of the most deeply divided conflicts, all the musicians have learned to harness their conflict resolution skills to peacefully defuse these situations.
Moody explains: “It is very important to approach people, especially those with negative opinions: we affected them, they care, they came and talked to us, even if they do not agree with us.”
Moody’s experiences reveal the power of Heartbeat’s work. In a context so often defined by stereotype and separation, Heartbeat’s music unifies people and allows them to explore the complexity of one another’s identity.
“A woman came to me after a show and just hugged me for two minutes of tears. To have this moment, to experience this moment, makes me feel like I really want to approach more and more people to show them how simple it is to overcome division.”