Israel-Palestine: Country overview
The long-running conflict in Israel-Palestine continues to claim lives and entrench deep divides.
2015 saw a surge in violence with some analysts fearing it could spark a third intifada. With a long history of unsuccessful peace initiatives, the region appears no closer to a lasting settlement.
A recent spike in violence in the form of stabbings and shooting attacks and an increase in restricted movements in the East Jerusalem neighbourhood and the West Bank continues to impede steps towards peace.
Music for peace
Working in one of the most divided conflicts in the world, Heartbeat bring young people from across Israel-Palestine together to make music, build understanding and promote peaceful social change.
Heartbeat aims to help the next generation of Israelis and Palestinians to understand and respect each other, harnessing the power of music to bring them together. They organise music-based workshops and camps, as well as developing performance ensembles in Haifa, Jerusalem and Jaffa-Tel Aviv.
Since 2007 when they were founded, over 100 youth musicians have participated in Heartbeat workshops, retreats and overseas exchanges and have toured around the world. Staff are trained dialogue facilitators and professional musicians, and develop students’ skills in song-writing, music theory and improvisation.
Heartbeat also work on students’ communication and leadership abilities – helping them to engage with each other and the conflict issues that involve them, while quite literally amplifying their voices to help spread the message of peace.
As graduates, Heartbeat activists lead workshops in their communities and do outreach sessions in local schools. The musicians perform in local communities and in prestigious venues around the world, including some of the world’s most celebrated universities and music halls.
At each event, Heartbeat musicians share their experiences of growing up amidst the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and highlight their creative effort to promote equality, empathy, and nonviolent action.
In their words: Moody's Story
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 overcome divides of conflict and build trust and respect.
Moody explains: ‘’For me, it was a really big new chapter in my life that started. I won’t forget that feeling of getting back from the first retreat. Before that I was depressed, you know. 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 but just don’t get into it deeply. We succeeded in building dignity, respect and understanding between people and our community.”
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.”
Moody explains: “It is very important to approach people – especially those that come up to us or those with negative opinions – and acknowledge that we affected them. That they care, that they came and talked to us, even if they do not agree with us. But on the other hand, a woman came to me after the show and just hugged me for two minutes through tears. To have this moment, to experience this moment, makes me feel like I really want to approach more people to show them how simple it is.”