This weekend, a group of Palestinians and Israelis gathered in Abu Dis to “break the sound barrier by drumming through the wall”. As the sun set on Saturday, close to one hundred participants gathered on both sides of the wall at Ras Kubsa square. Video projectors on each side of the Wall enabled the drummers to see each other ‘through’ the wall.
The event was hosted by Artists Without Walls (AWW); a collective founded in 2004 by Israelis and Palestinians. As stated on AWW’s website (http://pia.omweb.org), their aim is to “eradicate the lines of separation and the rhetoric of alienation and racism through nonviolent and creative actions.”
This is not the first innovative way AWW has attempted to circumvent the separation barrier. On April 1st 2004, the group created a virtual “window” in the separation barrier using video projectors. At another AWW event, Israelis and Palestinians gathered to watch a tennis match take place over the wall.
Said Murad, a Palestinian musician and co-founder of AWW, told PNN that these symbolic actions are designed to build bridges between the Palestinian and Israeli populations. He explained: “Our lives are full of walls: physical, political, economic, cultural, and religious… Bridging walls brings life to us and us to life.”
Despite stiff winds and cool temperatures, the drummers were in high spirits. At one point during the event, a group of local Palestinian youth joined the circle. Dancing with their arms in the air and smiles on their faces, the boys became the center of attention. Idit Heller, a Jerusalem resident and Machsom Watch volunteer described the mood as “very spontaneously joyful.”
Another participant commented on the use of drumming as a medium for cross-cultural communication, saying: “Drumming is an instant bridge and direct way to communicate across language barriers. It always works.”
Eytan Heller, an Israeli documentary filmmaker and co-founder of AWW, explained that providing venues for Israelis and Palestinians to meet and engage in dialogue is key to establishing peaceful relations between Israelis and Palestinians. He suggested that the newly elected Palestinian and Israeli governments should be funding meetings and encouraging cross-cultural exchange. He commented: “No one will convince me that peace will come through building walls and developing a unilateral way of thinking.”