Jerusalem is a city split in two. Since 1967, the Israeli West Bank Barrier has divided its geography and its people–Israelis on one side, Palestinians on the other. But after years of conflict, people are taking peace-making matters into their own hands. Count among them Israeli musician and activist David Broza knows this, taking a route that’s decidedly non-political and non-“professional.”
“Professionals are afraid of people who dare to think differently,” he told DNA host Derrick Ashong recently in New York. “It’s hard for them to deal with a different approach and artistic people have a different way of approaching the same problem that a lawyer would approach, the same problem that an architect would approach.”
Broza, who’s currently based in Tel Aviv, already enjoys global acclaim for crossing cultures with his art. His best-known work has long mixed pop, folk, and elements of Spanish music. But an inner fire drove him to his ultimate musical peacekeeping project: an album called East Jerusalem West Jerusalem, which he recently debuted in New York.
“I can sing a song anywhere. Technically I could have recorded this album in Tel Aviv, Madrid, London, New York, Nashville. Anywhere. But I had to do it in Jerusalem — in East Jerusalem,” he says.
The album–and an accompanying documentary film–are due out in January 2014. They both track Broza’s journey to East Jerusalem–the Palestinian side–to record an album with Israeli musicians, Palestinian refugee camp residents, the Jerusalem Youth Chorus, and an American music legend, Steve Earle.
“David invited me to come produce the record and it was like a no-brainer. I mean I was like, I just–it was a chance for me to go to Jerusalem,” Earle said. “It was a chance to do that but and see things firsthand that I only know about from reading books.”
The final result bridges the divide between cultures, languages, and faiths in the way only music can.
“People go through traumas, from the moment you’re born until you die. And you build all kinds of inhibitions and phobias and hatreds and ideas and opinions based on your experiences and things that people tell you,” Broza said. “My whole philosophy is not changing the whole world–it’s just helping change the world I live in by introducing my world to friends and to people.”