DeanMail - May 2012 - Juggling, Unicycles and How to Achieve Peace in the Middle East
Yeah, I imagine some of you are skeptical of the teaser in the above title. That's only natural.
So, listen up...
When I was fifteen I spent a summer in Israel, working on a kibbutz, or rather kibitzing on a kibbutz (trans: kibitzing = fooling around). I worked in the banana fields, painted houses, learned how to drive a tractor, almost lost my hand in the plastics parts factory and spent my off-hours strumming my 12-string Fender guitar. Curiously, despite my vast repertoire of top-20 covers, the #1 song request, made repeatedly by the teens on the kibbutz, was the Beatles', 'Back in the U.S.S.R.'
"Flew in from Miami Beach, B.O.A.C., didn't get to bed last night..."
Guitar in hand, I made friends easily and aside from having to wake up early most days (definitely not musician hours), I enjoyed an idyllic summer in a beautiful coastal community on the Mediterranean coast.
Though it was a relatively calm period between wars, security was still a permanent part of the landscape - an attempt to plant mines on the beach had been foiled a few months before I'd arrived - and when my adopted sister, Oznat, returned from weekend maneuvers carrying an Uzi - looking quite like an angel in a khaki uniform - it took me just a little by surprise.
I almost stayed... but I didn't.
Six years later, back in the states, when my first album was released, I carefully packaged up an LP and mailed it to the family I'd stayed with on the kibbutz.
I learned, later, that it was detonated on the beach by an Israeli bomb squad.
Unsurprisingly, suspicious brown paper packages from far-away locales were not to be taken casually.
Despite this thwarted Israeli album release, my first single, Ariel, did eventually receive lots of airplay on a pirate radio ship, anchored just off-shore, called, 'The Voice of Peace', which broadcast popular music to millions of Arabs and Israelis alike. 'The Voice of Peace' was presented by mostly British DJ's and was rumored to have been partially funded by Beatle, John Lennon.
Notwithstanding my exploding LP, music proved, as ever, to be a source of commonality between people of every ilk.
And why am I telling you all this?
Because just as the Troubles in Ireland seemed so hopeless and intractable for so log, and yet has experienced a real, and lasting peace for a good number of years now, similarly, a true era of peace in the Middle East is emphatically possible - despite all expectations to the contrary.
But, like every other conflict resolution, it will be contingent on people learning to trust each other, somehow.
Easier said than done. But doable.
Our good friend, Jessica Hentoff, is actually doing it.
Jessie is a circus performer - an aerialist, juggler, bareback-rider, small animal trainer, clown and fire-eater and a founding member of the Big Apple Circus and Circus Flora. She runs a circus school in St. Louis, called, Circus Harmony, and for a number of years now she's been doing an incredible thing - teaching kids the art of life through circus education, and in the process, teaching these children to trust each other. The program brings children of disparate backgrounds together and teaches them to work together and trust each other as part of an exciting, hard-working, risk-taking and caring community. Through teaching and performance of circus skills, they help the kids defy gravity, soar with confidence and leap over social barriers, all at the same time.
In 2007, Jessica brought her Circus Harmony troupe of kids/teens from St. Louis - The St. Louis Arches - to Israel, to meet and perform with the Jewish/Arab Galilee Circus. The amazing joint effort provides a unique opportunity for Jewish and Arab and American children to create a vibrant community together, to get to know each other as people, to learn to trust and care for each other. This kind of program - this person to person approach - is key to achieving peace in one of the most politically precarious places on earth.
One of their trips is now the subject of a soon to be released documentary, 'Circus Kids'. You can view a trailer by clicking on the picture or link below (you'll find the documentary when you scroll to the bottom of the landing page).
I'm telling you all this because Circus Harmony has just launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise the necessary funds in order to bring the Israeli/Arab circus troupe here to the U.S., this summer, so that the Arab and Jewish kids can meet, work with and perform with the Circus Harmony kids throughout the St. Louis area.
Please click on the link below, read the 'Peace Through Pyramids' Kickstarter Page, definitely watch the 'Circus Kids' documentary trailer.
And send 'em some money! ;-)
Do something that can really make a difference to the lives of thousands of kids, and, ultimately, the state of our global community - you know... humanity! ;-)
You'll be glad you did!
copyright (c) 2012 Dean Friedman Productions
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