Huck spoke to four creative young Israelis and Palestinians for new perspectives on the ongoing conflict in the Middle East.

Huck spoke to four creative young Israelis and Palestinians for new perspectives on the ongoing conflict in the Middle East.

On Tuesday August 27, 2014, Israel and Palestinian militants signed an indefinite ceasefire that the world hopes will bring an end to the latest outbreak of violence in this bitter and deep-rooted conflict. Over the last seven weeks, 2,100 people, mostly civilians, have been killed in Gaza, including about 500 children. On the Israeli side 64 soldiers and six civilians have died, including a four-year-old boy.

Today the bombs and rockets are silent, but what happens tomorrow? Huck reached out to four young, creative Israelis and Palestinians – artists, musicians, graffiti writers and photographers – to add new perspectives to the conversation.

Will our generation be the one that brings peace to the Middle East?

Boaz Sides aka Untay, 31, Tel Aviv

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Boaz is an atheist Jewish-Israeli graphic designer and street artist under the moniker of Untay.

How has this recent outbreak of violence affected you personally?
As the years go by, the conflict has become more violent and started to spread all over the place, not just between Gaza-Israel but also inside Israel. The media shows only the radical side of the conflict and it leads to a point where average citizens are afraid to voice their opinions.

Personally, I get more confused about the place that I live and I can’t decide between what is right and what is wrong, who are the good guys and who are the bad guys. Everything has become so emotional so I decided to take a step back and observe from a floating POV.

The debate around the world on the conflict has been fierce and very polarised. Do you feel there’s anything important that remains unsaid or has been skewed by the media?
The bottom line is that most of us want to live in peace: Israelis, Palestinians, etc… You won’t see that on the TV, the media shows death, radicals and war, managed by a minority in both Israel and Gaza who dominate the media and political establishment to fight in the name of their ego, religion, money and power. Most of us don’t need that, we just wanna wake up in the morning and smile at each other, regardless of where we come from.

What sort of connection/dialogue do you have with young people on the other side of the wall?
Unfortunately, I don’t have any real personal dialogue with the other side. I wish I had, I wish I could talk with someone there my age over a cup of black coffee. Face to face.

The only dialogue I had was during my army service 10 years ago. You can’t really manage a dialogue while you are a soldier with a uniform that represents a big organisation like the IDF, you only follow orders. No-one cares about your opinion.

Do you feel the younger generation of which you are a part will improve the situation once they fully come of age?
Well… no, it will be too late once we “come of age”. Our parents fully came of age and they are tired and frustrated. All they did was watch the situation and let the leaders do what they did. Now they are crying and we are paying the price of our parents’ failure to choose the right people for the leadership positions. If we want to change something we have to do it now, while we still have the power.

What role do you feel that you and your work can play in improving the situation?
I come from a design and street-art background. It would be great to gather people, children, from both sides of the fence and let them paint murals on the big walls while listening to music and having a dialogue, to let them see that we just want peace – both sides.

Check out Boaz’s work.

Mariam Abuamer, 21, Gaza

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Mariam is a Palestinian student at the University of Palestine and a politically active singer. Photo by Vittoria Mentasti

How has this recent outbreak of violence affected you personally?
There’s something missing in each of us. I sometimes feel like my spirit is dead. I’m psychologically damaged but I’m physically fine. I know now we are normal, but after the war ends I’m pretty sure we can’t go back as we were after the destruction and everyone has lost loved ones. Some people lost their houses, some people lost their families.

I can’t see my friends and there’s no electricity and no water so I can’t even take a shower. Since they bombed the power station there is no electricity in all of Gaza. I don’t know, I’m trying to find a way to get out of here. I can see no future here.

Every time I hear a door shutting or a car passing by fast I freak out because it’s similar to the sound of the rocket bombing. Every time I hear the sound I feel like it’s a rocket heading to my house. Even when the telephone rings I freak out and I think it’s the Israeli army calling us to evacuate.

The debate around the world on the conflict has been fierce and very polarised. Do you feel there’s anything important that remains unsaid or has been skewed by the media?
The international media is not telling the whole truth, they are telling a part of the truth. They are focused on Israel and I believe international media cares about Israel, not us.

We are dying here and there’s no safe place. If I want to leave my house, where am I supposed to go? Even the normal schools, the international places are targeted. Civilians are paying the price.

What sort of connection/dialogue do you have with young people on the other side of the wall?
Yeah, some of them. I have a friend, but we have never talked about politics and stuff. We are civilians who just want to live and have a peaceful life.

Actually most of the Israelis I’m talking with are against the war and are really ashamed of the Israeli government. They are really against Netanyahu and they want this to end. Some of them are outside Israel and they are really ashamed that they belong to this country.

I’m against killing and war and violence. I’m happy that they know the truth and they are against the killing of kids and destruction of houses and schools. We have to defend ourselves. I’m afraid that after the war ends Hamas will continue to run Gaza, that’s what I’m afraid of. But now, I’m supporting the resistance. I have no choice.

Do you feel the younger generation of which you are a part will improve the situation once they fully come of age?
Yes, because they are more open-minded and more aware and more cultured people. Yes, I believe in them, but to tell you the truth, most of the cultured people and open-minded people are trying to leave Gaza. They can’t stand it. Nobody can stand the situation here. I can’t feel that I’m a normal human being. My spirit is dead, I’m just physically fine.

What role do you feel that you and your music can play in improving the situation?
I believe that music has a very powerful way to get to the people’s hearts and touch them. I believe it can do something and it can help us. You know the situation in Gaza is really different because the music isn’t allowed from the government because it’s an Islamic government. The only place I could sing is the French Institute because it’s an international place, but it’s forbidden here. Two days after the concert they threatened the centre. If they do another concert they will burn the place.

That’s why we can’t affect people or do anything for them. My music is useless. The community will not respect me but the younger people, the activists, they’re really supporting me and everybody wants me to keep going. My audience online are supporting me and I was pretty happy that I made someone happy with my music. I really want to do more covers and make more music and to sing, but as I said, it’s not allowed.

Check out Mariam’s YouTube channel.

Guy Pitchon, 33, Tel Aviv

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Guy is an non-religious Jewish-Israeli artist and photographer who lives in Jaffa, the only mixed neighbourhood in Tel Aviv, where Jews and Arabs live side by side. Photo by Micael Topyol

How has this recent outbreak of violence affected you personally?
The violent outbreak has affected me, like it has everyone else. Everyone is trying to live their lives. Being an artist in Israel means a hard life. A lot of people here have existential problems, political, financial… so the art scene here is small, and has little variety. It’s even harder to be a non-mainstream artist, or a non-mainstream anything for that matter.

It also just feels inappropriate to promote art events or anything like that when you have to run for shelter every day and you have friends on the front line. I was working on an exhibition for a year, but couldn’t really invite people or have a big event. I can’t really complain, but the fact that I or anyone else can’t complain about anything like not working, businesses not making money, and high rents while people have almost no income, is a problem.

The debate around the world on the conflict has been fierce and very polarised. Do you feel there’s anything important that remains unsaid or has been skewed by the media?
Everything has been said, I’m just not sure who wants to listen. I believe most people listen to what they want to hear and its very rare for people to change their opinion about anything.

You don’t have to be the smartest person in the world to know not to believe most of what you hear in the news. I watch the Israeli news and I watch CNN and it seems like two different wars are going on. Maybe I watch too many conspiracy theory documentaries, because I don’t believe anything is what “they” tell us it is.

What sort of connection or dialogue do you have with young people on the other side of the wall?
I don’t have any relations with people on the other side. It’s not legal and not safe for me to go there. I have Arab friends who live in Israel. For me it’s a non-issue, but I can tell how big the conflict they have to live with is.

One of my skater friends is an Arab who went to school with Israelis and skates with us. No one I know looks at him differently but when he got a bit older, it became harder for him to get a job. When he was doing summer skate camps for kids, he couldn’t use his Arab name on the flyer.

On the other hand, a few of my surfer friends are in involved in Surfing For Peace. They try to cross political borders with something positive but it’s a drop in the ocean.

Tel Aviv is kind of a bubble but I’m sorry to say I live in a racist country. I think this starts at school. No one took me to see how life is on the other side. In history class there is nothing about the occupation, so it’s no wonder that most Israelis see Arabs as one group who are all killers and are taught to hate us from birth. I don’t agree with that, but sadly, I’m in the minority.

Do you feel the younger generation of which you are a part will improve the situation once they fully come of age?
Sadly, I don’t see the younger generation making a big change, because they don’t get the right education. The schools and the army – that everyone has to serve in – don’t encourage that change.

The extremists on both sides have taken over, and frankly I’ve lost my faith in change. Just two years ago, people were living in tents in Tel Aviv to protest against the crazy living costs and the general ongoing corruption. Soon after that, they went back to scaring the public with threats of Iranian nuclear bombs. In an instant it was not cool to talk about anything else. This type of thing happens in other parts of the world too.

What role do you feel that you and your art or photography can play in improving the situation?
I think that through art and music, maybe a different voice can be heard, but I’m not sure that my interests or artwork can make any difference in a time like this. It seems only ignorant claims and one-sided slogans can be heard. People will call me a traitor and will call for my death if they read what I just wrote, that’s how crazy it is.

Find out more about Guy’s work.

Mahmoud Jreri, 31, Lyd

Mahmood is a Palestinian Arab and member of rap trio DAM who grew up in Lyd, a mixed town in Israel.

How has this recent outbreak of violence affected you personally?
Nothing that happens in Gaza is far away from us actually because we feel it and we see it on the news. I have relatives in the West Bank, Gaza and Jordan. It’s something I feel every emotional about because it’s my people that are getting bombed over there and getting killed: women and children.

Sometimes you feel hopeless that you can’t do anything and the world cannot do anything either. This is not the first attack on Gaza, it’s not the second and if I have to guess it won’t be the last.

You feel like you aren’t doing anything and you’re not productive. You don’t want to do anything because you’re connected to what’s happening in Gaza all the time. You are going to demonstrations and you are trying to help in any way to stop this war against Gaza. This is how we react to this war.

The debate around the world on the conflict has been fierce and very polarised. Do you feel there’s anything important that remains unsaid or has been skewed by the media?
Some people are pro-Palestinian and some people are pro-Israeli. I don’t want to preach to people what to think, or what to say but every man, every woman, every family that has a little bit of reason can see it in front of them and can see the injustice that has been going on in Palestine for over almost 60 years.

What sort of connection/dialogue do you have with young people on the other side of the divide?
I have dialogue with Israelis that are left wing. Not the mainstream left wing, with the extreme left wing. I just came from a demonstration and you had Jewish Israelis that are with us, and are with us in our struggle and support our call for freedom. I can have a dialogue with these people because they can understand my suffering and our need for freedom.

Israeli society has got to a stage where it’s very militant and brainwashed from the Israeli Zionist propaganda – you cannot have dialogue with them. Those who I do have dialogue with are the minority.

Do you feel the younger generation of which you are a part will improve the situation once they fully come of age?
I think it’s just getting worse. As long as there is no serious partner from the Israeli side to come and talk peace and to come and give the Palestinians their freedom, the situation will only be getting worse. I think where we were ten years ago is very different to what we have now, it’s very extreme. I have a lot of friends who have been fired from their work because of a status on Facebook, calling to stop the war and calling for them to stop killing children.

When I see the generation that’s growing up on the Israeli side I’m really desperate. It’s a generation that’s going to the army and a generation that is brainwashed, but I can see a future with people who believe in my cause and believe in the Palestinian cause, like the people who go out to demonstrate with me. Those people can make peace.

I am not optimistic, but I wish for a day when people will understand that this land has a history of Jews, Christians and Muslims and should be for all citizens. Those citizens should be important, not for their ethnic background, their colour or their sex, but their citizenship and that’s it.

What role do you feel that you and your music play in improving the situation?
I think music can explain and bring awareness to those who seek awareness, but you cannot force people to hear you. DAM are banned from Israeli mainstream radio, so they don’t really listen to what we are singing about.

Music is a way to express yourself and it’s a way to make people think differently, but in this situation music alone cannot bring about a solution. It’s just one stone in a big pyramid and this big pyramid also needs writers, needs solidarity from the world, it needs people that will go and support BDS, and for people to say to Israel, stop – you need to talk peace.

Find out more about DAM.