ISRAEL: East Jerusalem / West Jerusalem - David Broza
Updated: Jan 20, 2021
An album full of love, hope and an important message for us all to learn
As the son of an Israeli, the eternal conflict between Israel and Palestine is one that has always been very close to my heart and plays on my mind often. When my mother was growing up, she was assured by those of her parents’ generation that peace would be found by the time she would reach adulthood. Many decades have passed and yet it feels like the two sides are arguably as far away from reaching a resolution as they ever have been. Yet contrary to popular belief, the vast majority of citizens on both sides are still desperate for this peace that they have been promised for generations even though they may not believe it is possible.
“These attempts to build bridges through music is a way of demonstrating that music can create a beautiful space for people to share their cultures. ”
Whilst these seemingly empty promises can often leave people feeling a strong sense of despair, it is often through art and music that we can find examples of rejection of the general resignation that the Israeli and Palestinian population feel. David Broza is a prime example of this. Through his work he provides a message of hope and optimism that, although I personally do not find his music deeply moving, is charming nonetheless. Tackling such a vastly nuanced and difficult topic of the conflict within his album is hard, thus his ambition as well as his tact in doing so should be recognised. He brings a message of peace and emphasises the importance of harmony between the two sides.
His opening track One To Three kicks off with some lovely guitar work. In fact, the instrumentation throughout the record is really pleasant, but what is most notable are his lyrics which feature a call to action for the next generation:
Young people from all over Stray off and cross the lines It’s a dialogue that we’re seeking And we’re running out of time
Yet, it is not just through his lyrics that Broza encourages unity, but even in the process of making the album Broza made some production choices that show the power of bringing the two sides together. For example, he recorded the album in East Jerusalem in a Palestinian-owned recording studio, he invited Palestinian refugee Muhammad Mughrabi from the hip-hop group G-Town onto the final track Peace Ain't Nothing But A Word, and the album features an oud on several track, an instrument associated more with Arab musical traditions. These attempts to build bridges through music is a way of demonstrating that music can create a beautiful space for people to share their cultures.
Perhaps the most interesting decision made in the album was the selection of songs that Broza chose to cover. Whilst for me, the covers were certainly the weakest part of the album, as I don’t feel like he did much to improve any of the tracks he chose, he did rather curiously select some artists who had decided to boycott Israel. By covering the work of Elvis Costello in Everyday I Write The Book and Roger Waters in Mother he is making a very powerful statement, almost rebelling against the BDS movement.
My issue, however, with the covers is not the song selection, which I believe is very interesting but the fact that they seem to be sung with less conviction than the songs on the first half of the album. They just don’t connect with me in the same way as tracks like Keys To The Memory, a delightful song sung in Hebrew, Arabic and English. The instrumentation on the tracks written by Broza is more interesting than the likes of his cover of Cat Steven’s Where Do The Children Play? For example, I love the zither on Wild Carnations and the use of the bouzouki on Ramallah – Tel Aviv is another highlight on the album
For me, the standout track is the title-track, a collaboration between Broza and superstar Wyclef Jean. The Haitian singer brings some phenomenal harmonies to the song which make for a beautiful sound. The use of such a stunning harmony, further emphasises Broza’s point that we are better off working together regardless of where we come from. The message of bringing ‘Shalom’ and ‘Salaam’ (‘peace’ in Hebrew and Arabic) together is one that has been done by non-Israeli/Palestinian artists from different genres, e.g. Ziggy Marley and Emmanuel Jal, but to hear those lyrics included by someone who has lived through the pain of the conflict is particularly special. It reminds me of arguably my favourite song from the region, Od Yavo Shalom Aleinu by Mosh Ben Ari, which balances these two powerful words exquisitely. Whilst I do have mixed feelings regarding my enjoyment of the album as a whole, which I did not go crazy for, I am able to look past this as I truly love Broza’s pure-hearted intentions to use music as a means of uniting between two people’s separated by politics and religion.