Israeli & Palestinian fundraiser for what about us musicians affected by the coronavirus

What About Us is a live stage musical currently being developed by international musicians from countries who may have been affected by war and terror such as Israel, Palestine and Ireland.  The Musical which will launch in 2022 addresses many of this generation’s societal issues such as climate change and refugee migration.

Maruwan Shaheen is a professional musician who lives in Al-Sawahreh al-Sharqiyeh, a Palestinian town in the Jerusalem Governorate, located 6 kilometres south-east of East Jerusalem in the West Bank.  He is responsible for the financial support of his wife, children, mother and sister. Because of the coronavirus he is no longer able to earn a living as he cannot secure a permit to travel into Israel for work. Last week he owned four goats, this week there are only three.  One was sacrificed so the family could eat. There is no form of State support available for Maruwan.

Muatasem Owisaat is a 26-year-old musician. He was born in Jerusalem, has Israeli citizenship and is currently living in East Jerusalem.  He plays percussion, darbuka and piano in several bands.  Most of his income is generated from playing at weddings and events. All this work has dried up. He has been accepted into the Jerusalem Academy of Music where he can continue his studies. Because of the coronavirus he cannot afford the college fees.

Nimrod Shemesh a professional musician, guitarist and harmonica player from Tel Aviv

David Baldosa is a professional singer who has worked with the finest musicians in Spain. He lives outside Madrid.  There is no work for David because of covid-19 and he cannot afford the bus fares to attend rehearsals.

What Maruwan, Muatasem and David have in common, apart from the hardships caused by coronavirus, is that all three are creating music for the What About Us musical project. The musicians, composers and singers are currently contributing their time without remuneration because of their belief in this project which is being developed as an initiative that can positively contribute to our global society.

Yotam Neuhaus a professional bass player

The 50 plus globally based participating musicians, have been placed in nine individual bands. Each week they have an online zoom call with the What About Us creative team of Shoshi Israeli, Aaron Wilkinson and Des Cullen. Aaron commented on the process.

“We are using the Bandlab music creation platform that allows us to play any instrument and load it into a track. Band members can add or delete pieces of music or add vocals etc so it’s very dynamic and great for online collaboration”

There is a wonderful dynamic and developing friendships being forged between the musicians. On hearing of the hardship of her colleagues Sophia Tuv (Band 8 and currently living in Australia) suggested a fundraiser to support those who are suffering financially. Sophia commented.

“The coronavirus is affecting musicians all over the world. When you hear the individual stories of the hardships of colleagues and friends you are working with it brings home the reality of the challenges and suffering people are facing”.

Asaf Engel a professional musician and prominent in promoting music led peace collaborations.

The response was an immediate and universal “Let’s do it” from everyone, the Israelis, the Palestinians, the Irish and all the other nationalities who are collaborating. To see this up close and personal is inspiring. All professional musicians are suffering from the corona crisis, yet those with a little are all committed to the plight of their colleagues who are worse off.

What About Us is a Musical project that can positively impact society, promote peace over war, and challenge societal issues such as global warming and climate change

Shoshi organized the first rehearsal of a selection of Band 4 and Band 6 members in the Mahal Kibbutz on Friday 17th July. Asaf Engel hosted the gathering. He is a professional musician, and prominent in promoting music led peace collaborations. He works with musicians that live in the Arab Israeli Palestinian village next to his Kibbutz combining the Arab tradition and Israeli music fused with current music.

“The get together was hosted by Asaf in his professional studio. It was inspiring for the musicians to play live together for the first time”

Shoshi commented.

Asaf was joined by Neri Lenchner, a guitarist, professional musician and teacher from Israel; Nimrod Shemesh a professional musician, guitarist and harmonica player from Tel Aviv;  Yotam Neuhaus a professional bass player and Ezzry Pinker a violinist and teacher who also plays kamanche, oud and percussion

Neri Lenchner, a guitarist, professional musician and teacher from Israel

The fundraising concert will be recorded by the musicians and then broadcast as a live concert on Facebook and other social media channels on Saturday 15th August at 20.00 UK/Ireland, 21.00 Spain, 22.00 Israel and Palestine.

Ezzry Pinker a violinist and teacher who also plays kamanche, oud and percussion

Even a modest fundraising will go a long way towards supporting some very impoverished families including Maruwan, Muatasem and David.   

It is so heartening to witness the generosity of the What about Us musicians in such a challenging time with the Covid 19 resurgence on the rampage in Israel and Palestine. Against the backdrop of the Israeli and Palestinian conflict this kindness is even more remarkable, and an inspiring message of love over hate, peace over war and music over terror.

Peace Over War