by Pierre Klochendler, Xinhua writer Yang Zhiwang
TEL AVIV, July 19 (Xinhua) -- Hailed as a model of cultural cooperation, two heavy metal bands, one Israeli and the other of Palestinian descent, performed Thursday night under the same roof in the Israel's Tel Aviv.
Music is said to be without borders, yet how these musicians define themselves is challenged by how others define them.
At a building on the beach of the largest Israeli coastal city, the two heavy metal bands, Arab Khalas (enough in Arabic) and Israeli Orphaned Land held a joint concert.
The bands are slated to play together this fall in a series of gigs throughout Europe.
Their artistic cooperation is hailed as "a major breakthrough" as they would rather play heavy metal Rock and Roll with an oriental twist than the strings of their conflicting identity pride.
"We are metal brothers before anything," Abed Khathout, Khalas' bass player, told Xinhua.
He was echoed by Koby Farhi, Orphaned Land's lead singer. " Tonight is the second time we're playing together -- Orphaned Land and Khalas, as Israelis and Arabs. Having a brotherhood, sharing the stage, simply shows that Rock and Roll music is above politics, " he said.
Khalas' musicians are Israelis of Palestinian descent. They define themselves as Palestinians, which is not agreed by authorities of the places they want to travel to.
"We were supposed to have a gig in November in Egypt. One week before the gig, we got cancelled. Well, we have Israeli passports, " Khathout said.
The musical score played by the two bands has one underlying refrain: music is without borders. Yet when borders are a core issue of a conflict, politics take charge and where a person lives determines who they are.
One in five Israelis is an Arab descendent. Most Israeli Jews define them as Arab Israelis, while they regard themselves as Palestinians or "1948 Arabs."
Unlike other Palestinians who became refugees, they chose to stay in the nascent Jewish state in that year. But it is never easy to live as a minority caught in a war between their people and their country.
Palestinians from the West Bank and east Jerusalem maintain a cultural boycott of Israel in protest against its occupation of their land, which Farhi is strongly against. "The purpose of art is to represent harmony and coexistence in places of disharmony."
If art is above politics, music is their religion, they say. Heavy metal Rock and Roll might sound aggressive, but here they listen to the tune of coexistence.