On the night of December 10th, EMIS had the distinct pleasure of enjoying the exquisite sound of System Ali, an inspirational Hip Hop band which performed for the opening ceremony of the YOCOPAS Peace Conference this weekend.
The diverse band sports native Russian, Hebrew and Arabic speakers who played not only with a tenacious spirit, but also to the soul of EMIS. EMIS is by nature a heteroglossia, a mix of voices and cultures, intertwined by a desire for change. System Ali is the brother and twin of EMIS, a success story inspired by the same ideology.
Blog EMIS had the distinct pleasure of speaking with the band members after the show and asking them a few questions concerning the band. Here is what they told us:
Blog EMIS: Why is important to do what you guys are doing?
System Ali: Personally, back then it was even a selfish thing. I was young, 17 years old; I was interested in making music. We are people who have a lot to say. Going to Jaffa and meeting people who are different to you. In the course of life, living in Israel, at least as a Jewish kid there is this thing where you are not supposed to meet people who are not like you.
And this blew my mind away. Even in terms of your own identity when you are exposed to different ideas, different narratives; even when they clash, you can build something stronger.
Blog EMIS: You spoke about the project you have in Jaffa. Could you explain a little about it?
System Ali: We worked with a youth movement called “Sabak Kareghoot.” This is a Palestinian-Jewish active in Israel for the past 30 years. We are Youth Guides, working in schools and different frames for youth. The idea was to give a platform for creation that comes from encounter.
Blog EMIS: And this was the purpose of the Band?
System Ali: The band was merely an outcome of it. There were plenty of other groups. One of us was even teaching breakdance. Each of these in reference to art.
We refer to art as the most sacred means of expression. I can even call it a prayer. Putting all intent through one channel. Doesn’t matter if it’s your lyrics or your music, but that’s the highest form of intent. And I guess the Band is just the channel that we found and we can use together to channel our anger and rage, but also all our prayers, and all the things we wish for.
For us, music is a kind of speech, saying that we can do better together. Never mind that we are Jewish, or Russian or Ethiopian. Never mind. Come to Jaffa and see the people that live together; Jewish and Arab. Really sometimes we argue, but we always help each other. Music is shouting and saying, a message that we get along.
The words of System Ali and our school are synonymous. Both share a common interest. There is a love and compassion towards the diversity of this world and the things collaboration can potentially accomplish.
During the YOCOPAS peace conference, the students were asked to think of actions which would promote the peace process. System Ali is the idyllic example of this action. Their work is not only a force for peace, and friendship but also resonates strongly with ourselves. It reminds us that change comes not from a complex political system, but individual efforts. A piece of writing, paying an instrument, a song, a band, the forming a friendship. These being a chain of social chain.
Most powerful of all, the band itself was born, as one member claimed as a, “selfish thing.” That is where these efforts can start. Perhaps we came to EMIS with selfish intent. Perhaps we care little for the peace our school supposedly promotes. But who knows? Perhaps we will find ourselves on the front of conflict we did not even know existed, less than two years ago.
Blog EMIS invites its readers to find the prayer System Ali references. To find the channel which enables us to show our rage, glee, joy, fear, hope.
Born from the most distant places and from the most distant intentions come the efforts that change people, change communities, change cities, change countries, change conflicts and change the world.
Writer: Carlos Sevilla
Edited by Maria Tirnovanu
Picture: Sofia Arthurs-Schoppe