Daniel Barenboim - musician and ambassador for peace?

Sibling rivalry can become so intense, so driven by the fear of not being recognised as being at least equal to, if not better than, the other in the eyes of the parents, that the hatred born thereof is strong enough to foster murderous thoughts...and actions. This is how I see the Arab-Israeli conflict, a never-ending determination of both cultural/religious groups to be better than the other and therefore more in favour in the eyes of their respective Gods.

Arabs and Jews share a genetic heritage - in other words they are essentially a single population. This includes Palestinians who are genetically closer to Jews than to Arabs. They are brothers.

Daniel Barenboim, an Israeli Argentine-born pianist and conductor founded the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra in 1999 together with Palestinian-American academic Edward Said. It is a youth orchestra based in Seville, Spain and consists of musicians from Middle Eastern countries and those who have Egyptian, Iranian, Israeli, Jordanian, Lebanese, Palestinian, Syrian and Spanish backgrounds.

The primary aim of the orchestra is to promote a peaceful solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict through fostering understanding between Palestinians and Israelis. Barenboim says:

 "The Divan is not a love story, and it is not a peace story. It has very flatteringly been described as a project for peace. It isn't. It's not going to bring peace, whether you play well or not so well. The Divan was conceived as a project against ignorance. A project against the fact that it is absolutely essential for people to get to know the other, to understand what the other thinks and feels, without necessarily agreeing with it. I'm not trying to convert the Arab members of the Divan to the Israeli point of view, and [I'm] not trying to convince the Israelis to the Arab point of view. But I want to - and unfortunately I am alone in this now that Edward died a few years ago - ...create a platform where the two sides can disagree and not resort to knives." [1]

One of the young orchestral musicians supports this:

"Barenboim is always saying his project is not political. But one of the really great things is that this is a political statement by both sides. It is more important not for people like myself, but for people to see that it is possible to sit down with Arab people and play. The orchestra is a human laboratory that can express to the whole world how to cope with the other." [2] 

More projects like this, where young representatives of opposing nations can work alongside each other and therefore develop an understanding and tolerance of the other's world view would be one of the most useful ways of approaching any form of peace in this war-torn world.

I take my hat off to Daniel Barenboim.

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