Hillel Schenker

“East Jerusalem, West Jerusalem, Shalom,Salaam”

The radio station 88FM is an oasis of calm for many of us during these  troubled and turbulent days.   On Friday morning, the local d-jays decided to provide their own antidote to the cycle of violence swirling around us, much of which is focused on Jerusalem.

They led off fittingly with a prophetic song written and recorded earlier in the year by David Broza and Wyclef Jean, “East Jerusalem/West Jerusalem”,performed together with Israeli and Palestinian musicians: “So many places, all share the same faces/ East Jerusalem, West Jerusalem/Shalom,salaam…Spread a little love
In the morning/Spread a little love In the evening/ Spread a little love
Before you put your head down, Maybe when you wake up
The world will be a better place
” .David Broza feat. Wyclef Jean — “East Jerusalem / West Jerusalem .,

David Broza and Wyclef Jean

This was followed by two more wonderful tracks from Broza’s new album – “Why Can’t We Live Together?”, a revival of the song by Timmy Thomas which was a standard on Abie Nathan’s “All For Peace” pirate radio station, broadcast from “somewhere in the Mediterranean”, and another revival, “(What’s so funny about) Peace, Love and Understanding”, written by Nick Lowe originally for Elvis Costello.

In keeping keeping with the theme of mutual coexistence as a counterpoint to mutual hatred, they then followed with a number of tracks from “My Favorite Enemy”, a unique cooperative joint venture of Israeli, Palestinian, Jordanian, American and Norwegian musicians and performers, who I would never have heard about if it weren’t for 88FM. One of their signature songs, which are song in Arabic, Hebrew and English, is Ya Leil: Ya leilMy favorite enemyYouTube

“My Favorite Enemy” performing in New York

And finally, they moved on to another multicultural group which was new to me, “Light in Babylon”, based in Turkey, with an Israeli singer of Iranian origin, a Turkish sitar player and a French guitarist.  Here they are with a song called “Istanbul”: Istanbul – Light in BabylonYouTube

In times when there are people setting up Facebook pages calling for “Revenge!”, joint musical enterprises can definitely serve as a constructive and calming counterpoint.   Along with Facebook pages calling for Peace, not Vengeance

This coming Tuesday, July 8th, music will also be featured at the all-day “Israel Conference on Peace” sponsored by the daily Haaretz, with the participation of outgoing Israeli President Shimon Peres.  David Broza will be there, singing together with Palestinian Israeli singer Mira Awad, and hopefully they will sing “East Jerusalem, West Jerusalem”. Achinoam Nini (Noa) will be performing a song called “Shalom” together with her musical partner Gil Dor, Alma Zohar will also sing, and the conference will conclude with a performance by the popular Israeli group Dag Nahash.

Music cannot be a substitute for a genuine political process, but as we know from the civil rights movement in the United States and the anti-Apartheid struggle in South Africa, it can definitely inspire action and activists, and can be a very effective soundtrack for a struggle for peace and freedom.

Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin singing together with Miri Aloni Shir l’Shalom (Song for Peace), the anthem of the Israeli peace movement.

So as David Broza sings – So many places
All share the same faces
East Jerusalem, West Jerusalem
Shalom, Salam




About the Author
Hillel Schenker is Co-Editor of the Palestine-Israel Journal, and lives in Tel Aviv