Music in the Key of Peace

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Israeli Parents Cast Aside Their Differences to Talk About Education Reform, by Molly MacGregor

I’ve talked in other articles about our belief in grassroots movements, especially as they relate to peace work and education. A recent story out of Israel reaffirms this belief and shows that there is a receptive audience there, outside of the organizations we are affiliated with, who are working to get such movements going themselves. 

As Ynet reports, “Some 120 Jewish and Arab parents, teachers, and community activists from low-income neighborhoods across Israel gathered together in the hills of Neve Shalom last month. Here, observant Jews in skullcaps sat beside men and women of Ethiopian descent, who sat next to Arab men in leather jackets and keffiyahs, with secular Jews and Muslim women in headscarves mixed in. And all of them were there to discuss grassroots change in education.”

The men and women present came from different backgrounds and ideologies, and there are probably many issues which they disagree with each other about. But they put those issues aside for this meeting, because they had a common cause they all believed in. This is at the heart of what Music in the Key of Peace is about: not asking people to completely forget the issues that divide them, but to focus on the desires and goals they have in common. So much discussion of the conflicts between Israelis and Palestinians and between Arab and Jewish Israelis seems to assume that those conflicts are the only issues facing Israelis and Palestinians. We often forget that these are still people with lives and jobs and families, not just faceless sides in one dispute. I suppose it’s easier to see a situation as two completely separate sides with no ability to relate to each other whatsoever, but being so simplistic also serves to reduce the nuance and therefore the humanity of everyone involved. 

Grassroots movements are ideal for situations like this, because they are often led by the people most directly affected. These parents have a need in their own lives—for their children to receive a quality education—that they feel is not being met. (As the article says: “According to the Adva Center, only 46.1% of Israeli students pass the bagrut [matriculation] exams, and of these, only 39.5% of the students pass at the level required for college or university admission.”) So, they’re getting together and talking to each other, despite whatever differences they might normally have otherwise, to figure out how to fix the problems. 

Similarly, Music in the Key of Peace is committed to supporting organizations which bring students of all backgrounds together to learn and create music. As I’ve said before, children aren’t pawns or political symbols or sides in a conflict—they’re children. They deserve to pursue their passions with others their age who share them, regardless of what their background or political views are. The groups we support came about because of the dreams of individuals who wanted to create something better for children, who wanted to let them be children and do the things kids do. Kids in Israel and Palestine are growing up in the midst of a huge ongoing conflict but they’re also growing up in a world where they need a good education, where they have interests similar to those of other kids all over the world, and luckily, there are some grassroots groups started by concerned adults which recognize that.

Molly MacGregor