Music as a bridge to peace

In October 2005, a “DJ Summit” was held in Jerusalem to show the world that music can overcome differences and bridge cultural gaps. Entitled “Bridge for Peace”, the party brought together three DJ’s who came from cultures currently at war with one another.

The evening featured the house rhythms of Khalil Kamal from Ramallah in the West Bank, followed by the Arabic groove of Srulik Einhorn from Tel Aviv in Israel, and ended with the progressive house of Morad Kalice from Amman, Jordan. At a time when war has torn apart any political or social cooperation between their home countries, music served to connect them and enable them to see their similarities rather than their differences.

The summit was the idea of Srulik Einhorn, who is credited with helping to introduce Arabic electronic music to Tel Aviv’s bars and clubs. After years of playing the music, he began making contact with DJ’s in neighboring Arab countries. Einhorn visited Jordan where he met DJ Kalice, and attempted to bring him to a party in Tel Aviv. Kalice was initially refused entry, but eventually, the Interior Ministry issued a visa for Kalice to come to Israel. For the event, they chose the holy city of Jerusalem, and its largest club Haoman 17.

“It’s a nice event of cooperation, and it’s never been done in the region,” said Einhorn. “Also, being in Jerusalem means doing it in the holy city to three religions.”

During his performance, DJ Kalice displayed cellular text messages of encouragement from friends back in Jordan. “The message that I want to bring to the people is that music should bring people together,” he said.

Khalil Kamal is Ramallah’s leading DJ, but was born in Jerusalem. Being a DJ in the West Bank is not easy, and yet the 37 year old father of three has been performing for 11 years.

“It was the first time I was in such an atmosphere with a Jewish crowd. I was afraid that they wouldn’t accept me because I’m an Arab. But they accepted everything I played,” said DJ Khalil. “It wasn’t only music. It was the only night that we felt there was no difference between Israeli, Palestinian, and Jordanian. We hope that they will feel that way on the street.”

Because of travel restrictions and little publicity in East Jerusalem, there were mostly Israelis in the audience, many were soldiers on holiday. “It’s putting the enemy in the DJ spot, and… he’s not the enemy, he’s just the guy spinning the records,” said one attendee after leaving the club.

“We really enjoy performing together, and this allows the crowd to see that cooperation and coexistence between Israelis and Palestinians is possible.” said Srulik Einhorn.

DJ Srulik Einhorn and DJ Khalil will perform together again in London on the winter solstice in December 2006, at a party called “Bridge of Peace”.