Palestinian and Israeli children learn how to dance together in Jaffa.
Jaffa is an ancient port city in Israel, which is currently at the center of one of the most difficult ethnic conflicts in the world. Many of the people on both sides of the conflict who live in Israel and surrounding areas are actually fed up with the fighting and racism and are ready to move into a more peaceful and understanding era. Unfortunately, the politicians that claim to represent both groups are seeking to further divide their people and instigate conflict for their own gains.
While the politicians and military leaders continue to promote hate and violence, there are more and more situations popping up that are showing the path towards a more peaceful future. Many groups and individuals are stepping up, risking their public reputations and their lives to speak out for what they believe is right. What is even better is that average people are working to apply their own skills and talents towards bringing the Palestinians and Israelis together.
Recently, the story of a dance teacher in Jaffa reached the world and showed many people how things like dance and art can bring individuals from feuding groups together. A local dance teacher actually dedicated their whole business to bringing these groups together by teaching them how to dance in the same class. This is a revolutionary idea for the region because life can be extremely segregated in and around Israel.
According to a summary from a new research project about the dance classes:
For generations Jaffa has been defined by inter-cultural hostility and hatred. Its inhabitants live uncomfortably side by side with an underlying state of constant tension and no visible end in sight. Dancing in Jaffa shares the story of Pierre Dulaine, an internationally renowned ballroom dancer as he returns to his birthplace, Jaffa, to fulfill his lifelong dream of teaching Jewish and Palestinian-Israeli children to dance together. As Pierre overcomes the challenges of uniting children living in conflict, Dancing in Jaffa shines a light on the power of dance to mend these divides. Pierre teaches the children life skills through ballroom dance including: etiquette, self-esteem, respect for others and self respect. They learn to regard each other as individuals rather than members of religious factions. Pierre believes if you change the children, you change the future. He is able to show the power of the arts and that even when dealing with the most dire cultural conflicts, there is always hope.
Although there is still an unfortunate amount of racism in the Middle East, most of the hate is generally fueled and stirred up by the politicians who benefit from it and thrive on it, and this hateful sentiment is not shared by the vast majority of the general population.
For years now peace activists in Palestine have been teaming up with other peace activists in Israel as well as the United States and Iran to spread a message of love and unity among people of all geographical locations…..regardless of what all the crazy politicians say.
Some of the most popular of these efforts is the Palestine loves Israel and Israel loves Palestine campaigns, which started out as a viral Facebook phenomena where Palestinians and Israelis would send messages of love to one another and reassure each other that the hateful rhetoric put forward by governments and media outlets are totally out of line with the true feelings of the average person.
Also, just last year an Israeli metal band called Orphaned Land joined forces with the Palestinian band Khalas for an 18 gig tour that visited 6 different countries. The purpose of the tour was to promote peace and unity between the Palestinian and Israeli people. The bands even lived together and shared a tour bus throughout the duration of their travels.