Music is a unique language that has the ability to unite people from different cultures and tongues, bringing them together to create an environment where all peoples from different nationalities, beliefs, and ethnic backgrounds work together in harmony.
Thus, music can be a tool to build bridges between people and create rapprochement, not only among people from different nationalities, but also people within the same nationality from different religions or cultural practices.
In the Palestinian context, building a musical group in a local town, one where Christians and Muslims live together creates a great opportunity for them form a single unit, where they share their skills and experiences, enriches the local spirit. It is this idea that supports our goal of building local bridges between the Palestinian people and the international community as well. Moreover, this musical experience allows students to release their emotions and express themselves creatively. Through campaigns that compose strong music and dynamic lyrics, they also relate to and unite people in the common goals of peace and justice.
It is for these reasons that the Palestine – Italy Music Exchange, and "Tunes for Peace" program has been initiated. Acting under the umbrella of the Angelo Frammartino Educational Center, this program aims to integrate music into the lives of Palestinian youth. The Angelo Frammartino Educational Center was established in March 2008 with a major support of the Italian youth organization, !A la Calle!. The initial phase of the project was supported both by A La Calle organization from Italy and Oxfam-Great Britain, however, the idea was initiated by A La Calle in late 2007. Through these two organizations, the Rapprochement Center has made contacts to the partners of Oxfam-GB network and this idea was received positively by these partners, which led to an Oxfam-GB approved a grant to help implement the project in six different locations in the West Bank.
The project is named in commemoration of the late Angelo Framartino, a young Italian man who was killed in Jerusalem some years ago. Through the creation of the Center and its outreach programs, we want to send a message to the world stating that violence has no basis; but is a tragic and destructive outburst that weakens communities. For this reason the foundation is called, “The Angelo Framartino Educational Center." The organization also holds an academic focus, and aims to provide such support to local students. It is apparent that the students’ academic achievements affect their charisma and their community involvement. Therefore, encouraging students’ academic progress will in turn reflect positively on their community involvement. Recently, the center hosted the first youth education project titled "Education for All," an alternative education program that helps to support Palestinian children who need extra lessons but cannot afford them because of financial restrictions and lack of community resources.
Given the power of music to further these initiatives, this program aims to serve the community in this way. However, it is a fact that there are many young Palestinians in Beit Sahour who wish to learn music and have the skills, but cannot afford to pay for the proper equipment nor the expensive fees to attend a music school. Therefore, this project will serve as a great support centre for those students, and will also complement the goals of the Angelo Frammartino Educational Center to give Palestinian students an opportunity to develop their musical knowledge and skill.
The situation in Palestine is very unstable on social, economic and political levels, which negatively impacts the Palestinian people, and particularly the youth, who shape the future. They will directly affect and participate in the building of their society, currently fragmented by the ongoing occupation.
In 2013-2014 a UK-based Charity, Pilgrimage People made a significant contribution to the project which helped Tunes for Peace project to introduce more instruments to the students which allowed us to serve more benefeciaries. Pilgrimage People traces its roots to May 2000 and a pilgrimage to the Holy Land organised by Fr Paul Maddison, a Catholic Priest from the Diocese of East Anglia.
While it is true that music alone will not solve the problems of the Palestinian people, it will at least serve communities in need, giving some students a chance to express themselves artistically, and positively affect how they view their role in society. Furthermore, music study here can inspire and provide the foundation for future musical careers.
In addition to the above mentioned, the Rapprochement Centre will also be able to form its own musical group which will act as an ambassador for peace, performing in different regions of the world, reaching a wider audience to make the voice of peace heard in a new and unique way. The programs which the Rapprochement Center wishes to provide will create new means of expression for Palestinian youth, lead children upward from violent experiences, and establish the potential for positive change in an evolving society.