JERUSALEM — A musical message of peace serenaded Palestinians and Israelis on Sunday, in a simultaneous broadcast to promote reconciliation - the latest sign of easing tensions in the Middle East.
Sung in Hebrew and Arabic, "In my heart" is the creation of Israeli musician David Broza and Palestinian instrumentalist Said Murad, whose brother, Wisam, accompanies Broza on vocals. The ballad is about love and land, an issue at the heart of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
"If we succeed in making this music and create this kind of art, it will help put people together," 44-year-old Said Murad said.
Broza and Murad worked with the Voice of Palestine and Israel’s Army Radio to coordinate the broadcast on Sunday morning.
Despite improving relations, there was an undertone of conflict on the airwaves. Army Radio’s Razi Barkai asked a Palestinian radio official whether his station had "stopped incitement messages on your broadcasts." Shortly after taking office in January, Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas ordered anti-Israeli incitement to stop.
Since a landmark Palestinian-Israeli summit, Israel has curtailed military operations and withdrawn forces from several Palestinian towns.
Risk for peace
The musicians took considerable risks by performing together and interspersing Hebrew and Arabic in the song. Broza, 49, traveled to the West Bank to perform the song in a Palestinian village. The two visited each other’s homes during the years it took to complete the project. The Murads live in Palestinian East Jerusalem. Broza lives in Tel Aviv.
"In my heart" is the first song with Hebrew lyrics ever played on Palestinian radio. Its broadcast is a rare appearance for Palestinian artists on Israeli radio.
"I really just think that if we put our minds together, and if we play it right, there will be peace in the Middle East," Broza said in an interview.
Broza is no stranger to the peace movement here. In 1978, a song he penned during Egyptian leader Anwar Sadat’s historic visit to Israel became an anthem for the peace generation.
"It was like watching the first man on the moon," Broza said. "The first Arab leader landing at Ben Gurion airport. It was something."
Rhythm of friendship
Broza and Murad's shared belief in peace grew into a deep friendship and a metaphor for the peace process: two sides getting to know each other at their own rhythm.
"When we met, David said he wanted to start working first. And I said, let’s wait. Let’s get to know each other better," said Murad from his East Jerusalem studio.
Murad and Broza say they admired each other’s work for more than a decade, but it took four years of "meeting and talking about music, politics and everything," Murad said, to write and produce "In my heart."
Bitterness over years of bloodshed won’t disappear overnight. Yet the musicians say they hope their song will succeed where politics have failed, and help to bring harmony to the Middle East.
"If we love the land, if we believe in history, we can create good future for us," Murad said.
Two sides in studio
Already, the recording of "In my heart" has helped to narrow the divide between Israelis and Palestinians.
For the chorus of "In my heart," Broza and Murad brought Palestinian and Israeli children to the studio to learn to sing in each other’s language.
Israeli TV stations featured the song prominently on Sunday night. And so far, radio listeners say they like the sound of hope.
"If children hear this music, they will understand that the land is for everyone, not just for the Jews or Arabs," said Ismail Khalifawi, a Palestinian student in Jerusalem who listened to the broadcast. "The land is for all."
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