Heartbeat unites Israeli and Palestinian youth to build trust and transform conflict through the power of music. Founded in 2007 under a Fulbright-MTVu fellowship, Heartbeat empowers Israeli and Palestinian musicians by creating opportunities and spaces for musicians from both sides to hear each other and work together to build trust between their communities. Since 2007, over 100 youth musicians have come together through a variety of programs including retreats, workshops, camps, overseas exchanges, and the development of ensembles.
Years of violence and aggression have dramatically polarized the Israeli and Palestinian populations. Tensions between Jews and Arabs are on the rise as continued fear and increased separation distance each community from the other. The vast majority of people on both sides remains unheard and largely unaware of its power to influence others and transform the status quo. Young Palestinians and Israelis are thirsty for change and eager to move beyond the failures of the past. They have by far the most to gain, the most to lose, and, in many ways, the most to give. To seize upon this potential, their hopes and visions must be strengthened and shared with their communities.
In the past 20 years, less than 1% of the Israeli and Palestinian population has come together for a meaningful dialogue. Numerous groups aim to build trust between Israeli and Palestinian youth, but Heartbeat is the only project that utilizes popular music as the principal means to do so. Music offers tremendously powerful tools to engage young people in dialogue and holds a natural means to share their trust-building experience with a much wider audience. A good song can spread far beyond the studio where it was created, potentially influencing millions through concerts, videos and recordings. Heartbeat seeks to utilize music’s power by creating opportunities and spaces for young Israeli and Palestinian musicians to build trust and work together to create a better future.
Heartbeat’s Core Program: Artist and Ensemble Development
Heartbeat’s core program focuses on the establishment and facilitation of ensembles of young Arab and Jewish musicians (ages 14-21 years old) who come together weekly for sustained music based dialogue programs in multiple cities. During these weekly sessions, Heartbeat youth explore each other’s cultures and narratives in safe, politically neutral settings that support creativity and communication. Developing skills in improvisation, song-writing, performance technique, music theory, communication, and leadership while engaging in dialogue about their daily lives and the conflict, participants raise their critical consciousness, and harness their agency to build trust between their communities.
Retreats and Camps
Supplementing the weekly meetings, Heartbeat also leads retreats and camps numerous times each year. Taking place in a neutral environment away from the participants’ normal routines, these formative experiences enable participants to connect with their fellow band members on a deeper level through facilitated music activities and group dialogue. Offering three or more days of dedicated time, camps and retreats also provide an invaluable space for the creation and improvement of compositions and arrangements.
Audio and Video Production
Heartbeat staff members, who are trained dialogue facilitators and professional musicians, manage programs and also professionally record the students’ music and produce music videos to amplify students’ voices to the wider community.
Heartbeat currently facilitates two ensembles, Heartbeat: Haifa, created in partnership with the Beit HaGefen Arab-Jewish Community Center in Haifa, which brings together Arab and Jewish high-school aged musicians from the Haifa area, and the Heartbeat All-Stars, a group made up of Heartbeat’s most experienced Israeli and Palestinian youth musicians (ages 17-22), who come together from Jerusalem, Jaffa, Rehovot, Tira, Haifa, and Nazareth. All Heartbeat programs are over 95% scholarship-based, ensuring equal access to all.
After weeks of rehearsing and inter-group trust building, Heartbeat ensembles offer performances and workshops for Arab and Jewish community members through “the Mic is Stronger” tour, performing in schools, community centers, and music venues, spreading mutual-trust and inspiring thousands. Since December of 2011, Heartbeat ensembles have performed and led workshops for over 3000 people.
In February and March 2013 Heartbeat held its debut US Tour. For over two weeks, an ensemble of Heartbeat’s Arab and Jewish youth musicians (ages 17-21) traveled from Boston to Washington, DC for 17 performances reaching over 1,500 individuals through live performances and over 20,000 individuals through social and traditional media.
For other news reports about Heartbeat from PBS, The Washington Post, The US State Department, and Al-Jazeera, please click here.
Since 2010, Heartbeat has engaged in international exchanges with arts organizations from Germany. In 2010 Heartbeat and the Willy Brandt Center co-produced the Hip Hop Hudna (ceasefire), which brought together Israeli, Palestinian and German musicians and rappers for a week in Jerusalem and a week in Berlin, where participants explored the histories and present day realities of each city, wrote and recorded original music, and performed together. The exchange enabled the production of Heartbeat’s second album,“True Love,” as well as the production of Heartbeat’s second music video, “Boom Boom Boom.” The project won the 2010 Europeans for Peace award for “Project of the Year.” In 2013, Heartbeat and the Willy Brandt Center will again direct a multi-visit exchange and will produce an album of original music from Israeli, Palestinian, and German youth artists, this time focused around combating stereotypes and discrimination.
In 2012, Heartbeat, the Willy Brandt Center, ActiveVision, and Addictz, e.V. produced “The Borderline Remix: A Hip HOpera” on migration and the human right of asylum. This first ever Hip HOpera of its kind united Palestinian and Israeli youth musicians from Heartbeat, young Sudanese refugee film-makers living in Tel Aviv, and graffiti artists and break-dancers from Mannheim, Germany. Working together long distance over the course of six months, and then in person for a week in Jerusalem and a week in Mannheim, this team of over 20 artists co-wrote and performed the Borderline Remix for a packed audience in Mannheim, Germany. This project also won the Europeans for Peace award for Project of the Year in 2012. In 2013, Heartbeat, ActiveVision, Drei Wünsche Frei, and Addictz e.V., which again team up to produce the follow up to their 2012 Hip Hopera, The 99% Remix. The new Hip HOpera expands upon the previous year’s work, uniting Israeli, Palestinian, Sudanese, and German musicians, dancers, film-makers, and graffiti artists in the creation and performance of an original Hip HOpera exploring today’s realities and each person’s power to create a better future.
For more information please visit our Programs page.
To hear more of Heartbeat's music, please click here.
Learn more about Heartbeat Staff, please click here.