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Music, peace and Israel/Palestine.

Here are three contrasting stories about music and Israel/Palestine.  The first was flagged by Ilisha, who posts a story about an American student, Andrew Roseman, who has been trying to organize a concert, called Man of a Thousand Teas, to bring Israelis and Palestinians from the West Bank together.  Andrew explains the thinking behind the project:

Well, I was in the process of trying to book a [music] show in Jerusalem and I was talking to my [Palestinian] friends, and I was like, “Hey, I’m going to be playing in Jerusalem in a couple of weeks.” And they couldn’t come, obviously, because people from the Palestinian territories aren’t allowed to just enter Jerusalem without a special pass, and it’s very difficult to get. And on the other side, when I was booking shows in Bethlehem, my Israeli friends said, “Oh, I can’t go because I’m not allowed in Palestinian territory.” After a while, we were like, “You know, it would be kind of sweet if we could start a music festival that would bring together Palestinians and Israelis in a politically neutral area that both Israelis and Palestinians have access to.” There aren’t many places like that, but there are a few and with my friends’ help we were able to find a spot that you don’t need a pass or any sort of form to access—a Bedouin area in the Jerusalem wilderness, basically in the Judean desert. Little by little, it’s coming together, and I’m pretty excited about it.

A rather similar project is described here – but whereas a concert for coexistence in Jaffa sounds like a positive initiative, depressingly, but predictably, some are determined to put a stop to it.  Jordanian singer Bassel Khoury was all set to perform:

The young Jordanian singer was to perform alongside Israeli artists at a  concert at the Jaffa port, “Ma’an/Together,” dedicated to coexistence — or, as organizing radio station 88 FM put it, “Arab-Jewish musical fraternity and love.”

However he had to pull out due to death threats from pro-Palestinian groups in Jordan.  His response was both bitter and telling:

On Saturday, Khoury had hinted that he was under pressure to cancel his performance, writing on his Twitter page that it was a shame that in these days, “peacemakers are considered traitors, and war criminals are considered heroes.”

Finally – and closer to home – the Zionist Federation is organising a concert to celebrate Israel’s 65th birthday in London.

The event will showcase Israeli talent including Ishtar, the Israeli lead singer of Alabina who has sold millions of records worldwide and has been called the Madonna of the Middle East. She has also had solo pop hits with well known songs like C’est La Vie, Last Kiss and Habibi. Another Israeli singer performing will be Ivri Lider, one of the most successful Israeli musicians of his generation, who due to his songwriting is one of the most adored and respected people in Israel. Ivri has also been named Israel’s male singer of the year and has sold more than 200,000 records.

Also performing at the concert is the world famous Chico, the founder of the Gipsy Kings who will be performing with his band the Gypsies. Moreover, Alexandra Burke a former UK X factor winner and a Platinum selling artist will be singing, Spelbound, a UK dance group who won Britain Got’s Talent will be dancing and Mark Maier a successful UK comedian will be performing.

If you are interested in this event, you can find out full details here.