Israeli-Palestinian youth choir makes peace through song

THE YMCA Jerusalem Youth Chorus brings together Jewish, Muslim and Christian high school students for singing and dialogue,

Avital Maeir, who is Jewish and Israeli, said she decided to join the choir “to show that Muslims, Christians and Jews can work together. Actually, it’s happening already, but most people don’t know about it. “

Maeir, who lives in a neighborhood that skirts East and West Jerusalem and is home to both Jews and Arabs, noted that she has many Arab neighbors.

“We hang out together,” she said.

Yasmin Khoury, a Christian Arab who lives in a predominantly Jewish neighborhood in West Jerusalem, and attends the city’s only Arabic-Hebrew school, said she enjoys the choir’s mandatory dialogue encounters.

“There are a lot of special kids here, Jews, Muslims and Christians together,” she said. “We talk about the conflict. We talk about what Arabs and Jews have done wrong, and we don’t always agree. We agree to disagree.”

Alaa Obied, a Palestinian 11th-grader who studies in Ramallah, in the West Bank, said he joined the choir first because he wanted the opportunity to sing on a higher level, and because he wanted to meet new people.

Obied, who must pass through Israeli military checkpoints, said his “negative preconceptions” of Israelis as a whole “haven’t changed” since he joined the choir.

“My relatives and I feel persecuted by the Israeli police and soldiers. But at the same time, I feel that the Jews in the choir are different. Here I feel like I’m an equal,” Obied said.

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