We live in troubled times. Those who visit this website are well aware of that harsh reality. Many of us are struggling to find reason to hope in these hard times. I’m thrilled to be able to share with you a bright ray of light shining in the darkness.
I’ve just met some new friends doing important work in difficult circumstances. It is a rare gift to meet people who have a clear and inspirational vision of what must be done to make the world a better place. It becomes even more significant when they are also already underway doing the hard work to make that vision real.
In the occupied town of Hebron, an ancient city of deep importance, there are over 550 schools and just 15 music teachers. Take that in for a moment. We regularly focus appropriately on the suffering of our Palestinian sisters and brothers in deep and profound ways. The occupation (which three major groups have declared fits the legal definition of apartheid) impacts precious humans’ lives in far too many ways to list here.
Even for me, someone who has spent decades studying the region and a lover of music, this was a need I knew nothing of before meeting Maali Tamimi and Aboud Qawasmeh the founders of SOUL. We were brought together through our wonderful partner HIRN and will now be raising up their work on our website. You can learn more about SOUL through our latest interview with Maali and Aboud, and the infomation about them below.
To get a sense of the impressive clarity of vision they bring to this work, please see this document and these brief excerpts below:
SOUL fills an evident and important gap as the first social non-profit forum in Hebron that puts music at the heart of its mission and vision. Placed in this strategically and economically important centre of Palestine’s South, SOUL offers a space that will enhance the outreach and expansion of music in the region. In the context of the persistent Israeli military occupation, music, and arts more broadly, offers the chance to increase social cohesion and resilience among the population, allows individuals to seek refuge and relief in a safe space and to find meaning and belonging in the frame of Palestinian music culture and heritage.”
SOUL is a place that brings together artists and music professionals locally, regionally, and internationally to enable knowledge exchange and collaboration. Cooperating with other music and cultural organisations in Palestine and beyond allows to find synergies in this field. The creation of a music archive symbolises the bridge between the past and the present, as it will allow to capture, record, preserve and catalogue the rich variety of historical, traditional Palestinian pieces of music that face a threat of getting lost.
At the core of SOUL’s activities lies an inclusive, accessible and gender-sensitive approach to welcome everyone who has an interest in music with open arms.
I hope you are as inspired as I am about their work. If so, please take three simple steps.
Spread the word. Tell people who already agree with us that Palestinians are fully human and deserve the same basic rights as all people. Let them know of this shining example of grounded hope. Urge them to tell others and together we can demonstrate the power of the multiplier effect of energetic organizing.
Use this unusual program as a rare opening to at least two people who don’t yet agree on this issue. Experiment with using the beauty and power of music as an opening to have the hard conversations we so often avoid. Deep in our hearts we know that activating people who already agree with us is only part of the challenge before us. We must also reach out - ready to listen and learn, not just teach - and call people into the conversation. Together, we can and we must change the conversation about Palestine and Israel so that we can change policy and impact people’s lives.
Donate here on this site. Consider becoming a monthly donor to this exciting project that is still in its infancy. Having met these wonderful leaders, I am confident that this project can become a groundbreaking force raising up the power of music to heal and repair our broken and beautiful world. By giving now, at whatever level of personal comfort works for you, or by becoming a monthly donor, you will be in on the ground floor of something already having an impact and full of the potential to become even more powerful if we take these simple steps together.
To learn more about their work, we are pleased to offer you this short video and bios below and ask that you check back on this page for future updates about SOUL’s still unfolding contribution to building a world of peace with justice for all.
SOUL is a "Cultural Forum for Music and the Arts"
Maali Tamimi is the Supervisor of Music Education for the Ministry of Education in the north of the Hebron Governorate and herself a volunteer music teacher of many years through the French Cultural Association in Hebron focusing on voice and piano.
Aboud Qawasmeh is a graduate from the music program at the Bethlehem University and an ongoing student at Dar Al Kalima College's music program, he is also a music teacher of Oud, Qanoon, Guitar, Darbuka (drums), and voice of 7 years.
They have pioneered projects in the Old City of Hebron, including a children's choir in the Tel Rumeida neighborhood of Hebron, and they have taught children with disabilities music - which will be a focal point of SOUL's work. They do amazing work bringing music into particularly marginalized and conservative communities in the Hebron area.
Artist Ashley Lukashevsky