For the first time, an Israeli performance will be broadcast on Israeli television and radio, and state television in the United Arab Emirates simultaneously. The show will also be introduced by the Minister of Culture and Knowledge Development for the UAE, Noura Al Kaabi and Israeli Minister of Culture and Sports, Hili Tropper, in a joint call for the promotion of peace in the Middle East.
Sometime in the 1980s the future began to look promising. Thousands of people packed the Yarkon Park and together sang the “Song of Peace” and tens of thousands of candles were lit. It was the “Israeli Woodstock,” 24 hours for peace a year after the signing of the treaty with Egypt. Legendary radio broadcaster and peace activist Abie Nathan, together with Hemi Sal and Eitan Gafni – two young dreamers and peace-seekers – initiated the festival, which is engraved in the collective memory of those who attended.
Since then, the “Song of the Dove” initiative has become an apolitical cultural tradition that has been repeated every few years throughout the country. In front of a massive crowd, with the participation of some of the best artists in our country who desire true peace without political parties or camps, the festival espouses optimism, a call and hope for peace among Israelis and with their neighbors, while celebrating the existing achievements of peace.
The festival was supposed to take place between the 2nd and 5th of December, 2020, but was postponed due to Coronavirus guidelines and will thus take place in October 2021 in the Southern Arava desert near Eilat, which is close to the border with two neighbors who already have peace agreements with Israel – Egypt and Jordan.
The opening event for the commemoration of the festival’s creation will take place on December 2nd, 2020, which is also Independence Day in the United Arab Emirates – our partners in the most recent peace agreement – with a prayer to continue to pursue and achieve peace. The solemn ceremony will be hosted by Lucy Ayoub, and to be welcomed (from a distance) by Israeli Minister of Culture and Sports Hili Tropper, as well as the United Arab Emirates Minister of Culture Noura Al Kaabi. The evening will continue with a special concert that will include some of the artists who are expected to perform at the festival next year, including the Arab and Jewish Jerusalem Orchestra East & West. The entire show was conceived, initiated, and artistically directed by maestro Tom Cohen. The event will be broadcast digitally in Israel and around the world to a live audience and will also be broadcast on television and radio stations in Israel and the United Arab Emirates.
Dr. Hanan Ginat, head of the Eilat Southern Arava Regional Council: “Promoting culture and tourism in the Eilat region is an important component of my vision as head of the council to realize and develop the dream of settling the southern desert region in the Arava. Since we live in a place of peace alongside Jordan and Egypt, I have no doubt that this is the most appropriate and worthy place for the festival to take place, and I welcome that. In the challenging days we live in, I see this event as an anchor of hope, not only for peace, but also for a return to routine, for growth, and revival.”
Hemi Sal, coordinator of the event: “Dealing with the global pandemic reminds us all that we can unite around big ideas like the aspiration for peace between us and our neighbors, an aspiration that has no sides or camps and should be the goal of us all. There is no better place to hold a festival of peace than the Southern Arava Regional Council, whose borders are at a crossroads of Israel with the two countries with whom we connected this dream – Egypt and Jordan.”