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The Polyphony Foundation Brings Arab and Jewish Israeli Musicians Together With Classical Music

“It’s really to give young people from both communities a chance to interact and to become more familiar with the other.”


There are so many different people and organizations today dedicated to building bridges between Jews and Arabs around the world. The Polyphony Foundation uses classical music to do so in Israel.

The organization declares its goal to be to find common ground through a common sound. It states that it has created a place of harmony where young people, both Arab and Jew, come together around classical music.

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This harmony is achieved in Israel through various programs operated by Polyphony Education Israel as part of a multi- tiered programming structure designed to move the students from beginner to professional performer. As the students advance from program to program, they encounter increasingly mixed groups of Arabs and Jews, so as they learn to appreciate music, they also learn to appreciate each other.

Through the common language of music, they learn to look beyond their differences to see the culture, connection and humanity they share. Currently, these programs reach more than 6, 000 Arab and Jewish youth and provide training and employment for over 100 teachers, according to the organization.


It was created in 2011 by New York residents Deborah and Craig Cogut and artistic director Nabeel Abboud-Ashkar.

Abboud-Ashkar told Reuters, “It’s really to give young people from both communities a chance to interact and to become more familiar with the other. Believing that this will have an effect on the society, the Israeli society.”

We can all connect with each other by language, but with classical music it makes us also equal, ” he added.

19-year-old Arab viola and violin player Feras Machour said, “My close friends and family are very supportive and they always tell me that it’s a good thing I am doing. And also they are happy that I get to see the world and travel around.”



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