“A group of 15 Jewish and Arab youth from Northern Israel recently had a unique opportunity to be the first musicians in the world to perform on steelpans at Vienna’s Musikverein, one of the most prestigious concert halls in the world. The concert was part of Austria’s 500th anniversary celebration of the Lutheran Reformation.
“The young pannists are participants in ‘The Peace Drums Project,’ a unique interfaith initiative that promotes peace between Arab and Jewish youth in Israel/Palestine by introducing reconciliation and harmony through the shared activity of a dynamic steel drum band.
“The Peace Drums Project was founded by clergy of the Delaware Churches for Middle East Peace and four Delaware rabbis from the Orthodox, Reform, Conservative and Reconstructionist Jewish denominations, who met in 2011 to exchange views regarding the Arab-Israeli conflict and explore how they might collaborate to promote peace in their shared Holy Land. Their vision was to develop a peace-making project involving Israeli and Palestinian youth, and they enthusiastically adopted a model created by University of Delaware Associate Professor of Percussion Harvey Price.
“The Peace Drums Project directly addresses a major problem facing all youth in Israel and Palestine – their futures stand to be drastically altered by the Arab-Israeli conflict but they are excluded from the political process and from most aspects of peacebuilding. This is a crucial time for them – they are at an age where they are beginning to see outside the confines of their families and their schools. For many, it is the first time they ask themselves: ‘What kind of person do I want to be?’ and ‘What kind of place do I want the world to be?’ The Peace Drums Project teaches them to make positive choices that integrate non-violent community-building into their daily lives, and has led to more than one close friendship between the Jewish and Arab participants and their families.
“In a country where divisions are highly publicized, Harvey Price has created a program that provides an excellent opportunity to show these kids a better path, and to display to the international community a successful example of Arab-Jewish collaboration.”