Musicians who play together break down the barriers separating them.
Veteran journalist Tolan (Communication and Journalism/Univ. of Southern California; The Lemon Tree: An Arab, a Jew, and the Heart of the Middle East, 2006, etc.) finds in the determined career of a Palestinian musician a chance for enduring harmony between Palestinians and Israelis. The poster boy for the First Intifada (1987-1993)—literally; a 1987 photograph of him as a young boy hurling stones at Israeli soldiers from his refugee camp became an iconic international image—Ramzi Hussein Aburedwan was a “child of the stones” growing up near Ramallah, West Bank, under the thumb of Israeli occupation. His mother abandoned him when he was 5, and Palestinian gangs murdered his father in 1990 due to his suspected collaboration with the Israelis. Raised by his grandfather, Ramzi absorbed the collective hatred and despair harbored by the Palestinians against their Israeli enforcers. After the Oslo Accord of 1993, many long-exiled Palestinians were allowed to return to the West Bank and Gaza, including a violinist trained in musical therapy, Mohammad Fadel, who started the Palestine National Conservatory of Music as part of an effort to infuse new life into Palestinian cultural institutions. Ramzi was chosen to play the viola, and he won a “playing for peace” scholarship to study in America and France. Eventually, he was swept into a grand friendship project between Palestinian-American literary scholar Edward Said and Israeli conductor Daniel Barenboim in the form of the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra, based in Seville, Spain, that would promote peace through an Arab-Jewish musical partnership. Ramzi also started his own association in the West Bank, finding ways to support young Palestinian musicians while also making a political stand against Israeli occupation.
A resolute, heart-rending story of real change and possibility in the Palestinian-Israeli impasse.