US Consulate American House – Multi-Cultural Collaborative Mural with Palestinian and Israeli Children at the Jerusalem International YMCA

In a current time of severe conflict and pain, a small shred of light came in the form of color and co-creation in the front of the YMCA in the center of West Jerusalem. In this rare location, there is a camp that brings Palestinian and Israeli children together for the summer, with Palestinian and Israeli Guides. The US Consulate General through the American House organized a collaborative project which would create a mural from both sides together.

As the children arrived, by simply looking at them one could not tell the differences between the Israeli and Palestinians, all children. With the foundation of humanity before culture in the forefront, we began to paint. While painting all the participants became the same, artists.Yet, when observing more in depth, the language separation became more apparent, and groups were able to be noticed. As we finished the ground, the conversation as to the content began cyphering through two translators for every thought. Through a hesitant conversation, the idea emerged of people of all cultures coming together to eat under the same roof. With food and home as a foundation , the drawings came to life.

Ideas grew from this and a red key came from one of the Palestinian guides, with a fetus inside. The “ Key” to the issues of hate and violence in the country lies in the next generation, and this lies in the hands of how the babies of both sides are raised. While painting this image, he spoke of how the war has affected his life; “ since the war, I have been  afraid to leave my house in East Jerusalem and go to West Jerusalem.” He spoke of the incredible fear that lies between the sides, and that much of it comes from the schools of both sides, and the underlying mistrust taught since birth.

As the fetis grew, the umbilical cord split and attached to a Palestinian and Israeli flag on opposite sides of the canvas, politicizing the message. However, throughout the rest of the piece, there were images of animals, people, tree- houses and an story began to form. The director of the program looked at the image, and spoke of the fear on the left of the painting merging into the Key, and coming out as the multi-cultural meal under 1 roof. The canvas finished as flying away in a Hot air ballon with the three faiths on a a city inside She continued to speak of this current time as a summer of crying.  Yet these children were laughing as they painted, both cultures; one image. This image will be permanently displayed at the American House,  East Jerusalem.