The Enemy As Other

Abby Zimet

   Members of a Palestinian youth orchestra from the West Bank performing for Holocaust survivors near Tel Aviv on Wednesday. (Reuters)

Of all the oddities of the event, surely this stands out: neither group – the Palestinian kids from the refugee camp nor the elderly Holocaust survivors  – had ever seen each other up close. A concert by Strings of Freedom for a group of Israelis underlines the distance between people who are at war but fail to see each other. 

The concert, part of a so-called Good Deeds Day, featured young musicians from the Jenin refugee camp in the northern West Bank. Their conductor had tried to explain who their audience was, but, kids being kids, they didn't listen. Most haven't heard of the Holocaust anyway. And most had never seen any Israelis other than gun-toting soldiers – like the ones who delayed them at a checkpoint before the show.

For their part, the elderly Jews rarely see Palestinians. Israel's ghettoization of the Palestinians has brought a profound disconnect; the humanity of the occupied is lost, and they become The Other.

Ali Zeid, an 18-year-old Palestinian keyboard player whose grandparents had to flee Haifa when Israel was formed, said he was shocked to learn about the Holocaust. Remarkably, he spoke of commonality. 










"Only people who have been through suffering understand each other," he said.

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