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Shymaa, a four year old little Palestinian girl, laid in a coma in a Gaza hospital bed. She would later recover and learn that her entire family (Mother, Father and Sister) had been killed by an Israeli bomb. Her courageous story of survival, not untypical of many children in Gaza, served to inspired top Grammy winning and world-famed musicians like: Philip Lawrence (of Bruno Mars), Peter Gabriel, Roger Waters (Pink Floyd), Stewart Copeland (The Police), Rick Allen (drummer of Def Leppard), Gary Nicholson (TX Hall of Fame Country Grammy Winner), Sasha Cooke (Opera Grammy Winner), Fox Lima (the Enigma MMX Social Song)…30 all in total… to support the Gaza/Palestinian crisis and bring peace to the region.
Background on the serious nature of the Gaza crisis:
The humanitarian crisis in Gaza remains at a critical point with the Israel limiting electricity to roughly 2 hours a day. This reality causes a desperate cascading effect on hospitals being able to operate and deliver basic care to newborn infants, the sick, the elderly and wounded. Water is also in short supply as pumping stations, which depend on electricity to operate, cannot deliver water. The punishing effects of Israel’s apartheid-like control over Gaza’s most basic living necessities and human rights standards leaves families with an inability to refrigerate food. This stark reality has also brought the economy within the region, all by design, to a demoralizing 60% unemployment. The situation in Gaza is beyond desperate. Its imperative that each of us act now to support this desperate human rights cause and humanitarian logistical supply crisis in Gaza.
The 2 Unite All benefit album is my effort, and that of my organization ProjectPeaceOnEarth.org, to do something about it. Each album and/or song purchase will bring help.
Today, “For the first time in 70 years, nations around the world, not a few but the vast majority representing 90% of the planet’s population, are declaring Israel a “rogue state.” Remember, this is the tiny nation that so many had held in their hearts as a bastion of freedom, an island of safety for a Jewish population who claimed to have been near wiped off the face of the earth by the Nazi juggernaut of the last century…
…Why a rogue state? How many have heard of Rachel Corrie or the USS Liberty? When evidence is presented of Palestinian children playing on the beaches of Gaza who were shelled and murdered by a navel gunboat, when F-16 fighter jets drop laser guided one ton phosphorus bombs and Apache helicopters machine gun strafe civilian areas and UN schools where people have no where to run, hide or take cover … all paid for by the American taxpayers … when a Palestinian people, people just like you and me, are challenged every day, year in and year out by: Getting to work or visiting family or friends by hour delaying and humiliating check points, Having their homes illegally seized and bulldozed … power and water supplies that are constantly turned off or available for just hours at a time…witness their infants and children choking on tear gas that has been launched into their home… endure water cannon trucks that spray the most foul and putrid smelling substances imagined in neighborhoods…when parents witness their children being kidnapped by the Israeli military only to know that they will be imprisoned and tortured in the Israel’s gulags…what could a reasonable person or world council of governance conclude? Yes, Israel is a rouge state…
…And YES, through all of this and more the Palestinian people serve as a living testament to the power, courage, determination and resilience of the human spirit that will not bend or break until they secure basic human rights, freedom and peace for all.
Thus far some 300,000 Palestinians are among the disappeared filling the mass graves of the Negev.” – Gordon Duff, Senior Editor at Veterans Today.
Our Story Begins:
During the summer of 2014 and because of my prior work within the Palestinian region I was receiving countless Facebook postings on the Israeli incursion that was taking place in Gaza. One video by Sky News reporter Tom Rayner caught my eye in particular. Tom was reporting on a little Gaza girl who was being pictured just behind him. She was laying in a hospital bed and in a coma. Doctors, as Tom would go on to say, were unsure of whether she would survive or not. He then went on to said that if she did survive and regain consciousness, she would later learn that her mother, father and sister…her entire family had all been killed in the Israeli bombing of their home.
This story played over and over again in my mind and each time it did tears gushed out and wouldn’t stop. I vowed to myself: “That’s enough, I have to do something now to offer some sort of healing support to the people of Gaza.” So, I conceived of an idea for doing a benefit album to bring both attention and support to the region. Next, I started making calls and sending out emails to our Project Peace On Earth (PPoE) Musical Ambassadors about the album idea. I was flooded with music.
Four of the first major stars to come on board with the 2UniteAll album where: Peter Gabriel, Stewart Copeland (The Police), Serj Tankian (System of a Down) and Rick Allen (Def Leppard).
Peter Gabriel contributed his song “Across the River” and delivered an historic and game changing quote: “Although I am sure both the Palestinian and Israeli people would benefit enormously from a just and fair two-state agreement based around the ’67 borders, we have watched the Palestinians subjected to more and more suffering for far too long, especially in Gaza. Meanwhile their long held land is repeatedly stolen by force for illegal settlements. I am not and have never been anti-Israeli or anti-Semitic; I am anti-Israeli government policy, anti-injustice, anti-oppression and anti-occupation. There is clearly a growing movement around the world willing to speak out, including my own country’s Parliament. I am happy to be one of these voices now asking the Israeli government, ‘Where is that two state solution you have so long said you wanted?’ and more simply, saying, ‘Enough.'”
Stewart Copeland (co-Founder of The Police) said: “Our music may not be able to rebuild homes nor bring back victims of violence, but at least it can soften hearts.” He continues…“Hard hearts allow violence in the Holy Land and softening up allows persuasion. Even the most flinty realpolitik analysis shows that ‘Kumbaya’ is more credible than ‘They Must Go.’”
Serj Tankian (System of a Down) would state that: “helping to rebuild the lives of Palestinians in Gaza is a necessary and noble worldwide humanitarian prerogative that we must not shy away from. It’s the least we can do for a people that have suffered under an occupation, embargo, and invasion.”
Rick Allen (Def Leppard) said, “Our world is finally focusing on resolving this conflict. Too many lives have been lost and too many innocent children and families remain perilously injured.”
After delivering the initial album in November of 2015 I next set out on a seven-month quest to find the little Gaza girl that I had now learned was named, Shymaa. I had to know if she had survived. Finally, through reaching out to the Gaza based National Centre of Community Rehabilitation (NCCR) I located her. The NCCR organization specializes in supporting and empowering children to have a normal childhood after being injured and/or traumatized during Israeli military invasions.
After finding Shymaa I next had the idea of producing a song and music video with her and children from the NCCR. I immediately reached out to composer Richard Gannaway of AO Music, one of our Project Peace On Earth (PPoE) Music Ambassadors. I knew he had a long and successful history in working with children with little or no musical background and training them to become a glorious choir.
As it turned the timing of my call to Richard about the music video idea was perfect. Richard had just written a brand new song called “Haumea”. He shared the amazing music and lyrics of the song with me. I got goosebumps. He graciously offered his song for the music video and offered to work with me to make it a reality. I then reached back out to the NCCR with the idea. They loved the idea and were on board.
Over the next three months or so Richard and I and the NCCR team would work via Skype to organize, coordinate and musically train children and teens. These children would become known as the NCCR Gaza Children’s Choir. The NCCR would go on to record and film them for the album. They’re point person, Wasim, and their entire team did an absolutely brilliant and amazing job! Shymaa was featured in the Haumea music video along with the NCCR Choir which was all beautifully edited together by the esteemed musician and filmmaker, Fritz Heede.
Shortly hereafter, I would meet Philip Lawrence of Bruno Mars at friend’s awards banquet. I told him a little about the project and arranged to meet him at his home. Once there, I gave him more details on Shymaa’s story and the newly proposed Volume II of the 2 Unite All album. Philip was deeply moved by Shymaa’s story and immediately said “I’m in”.
Over the next couple of weeks, and with the delivery date of Volume II closing in, Philip came through and wrote, produced and delivered the profoundly beautiful song entitled “Begin Again.” When I listened to it for the first time I wept at the genius of the melody, lyrics and his utterly amazing vocals. Philip I must say, is truly one of the nicest, most humble, loving and caring people I’ve ever met. His whole family is this way.
In addition to donating his song, Philip provided this supporting quote: “Throughout my life I’ve been blessed in so many ways but most humbly through the gift of my children. I live to protect, teach and love them unconditionally so they can then share that life experience wherever they go. Knowing there are children and families in the world who have experience lives of pain, trauma, violence, injustice and feelings that they’ve been forgotten simply breaks my heart and should never be tolerated. I wanted to be part of this album to use my God given gifts to give these children and families some peace even if only for a moment. In the end we are all one family and those are all my children, brothers and my sisters.”
Shortly after securing Philip’s song for the album, I connected to Roger Waters of Pink Floyd through his gracious manager. Roger was also moved by Shymaa’s story and wanted to help.
Roger donated his amazing song “Each Small Candle” and offered the quote: “The story of the little girl Shymaa in Gaza who lost her entire family, sparked the idea for the 2 Unite All benefit album for Gaza, Palestine and Middle East Peace. It is a story that is far too familiar. In Gaza 1.6 million people, adults and children alike live in what is essentially an open-air prison. They have no control over their borders, airspace or coastal waters. They live under the constant threat of attack from their heavily armed and hostile neighbor Israel. There is a movement in Global Civil Society to protest their intolerable situation, a movement which I wholeheartedly support. I have given my song “Each Small Candle” in support of the important Project Peace On Earth album in the hope that, along with all the other songs donated by concerned artists, it will help to shed light on the plight of the Palestinian people, and encourage progress towards equal rights, justice and freedom for all the peoples of this Middle Eastern region regardless of ethnicity or religion.”
Ultimately, the 2 Unite All’s volumes 1 & 2 albums also features: Thomas Bergersen (2 Billion Youtube hits), Sasha Cooke (Opera Grammy Winner), Gary Nicholson (Country Grammy Winner), Beth Nielsen Chapman, Rick Allen (Drummer of Def Leppard), Ricky Kej and Wouter Kellerman (New Age Grammy Winners) and many more all listed below. The aim of the album and Love All Love Wins movement is to unite people who are separated by conflict and prejudice through the healing power of music. Proceeds are ultimately used to fund medical and PTSD psychological assistance for Palestinians in Gaza and people in the Middle East region. Beneficiaries of the album include: Palestine Children Relief Fund, Friends of UNRWA USA, National Centre for Community Rehabilitation (NCCR) in Gaza and Project Peace On Earth.
Months later, the music video “Haumea,” by the NCCR and Richard Gannaway would go on to win the Global Peace Song Award’s best music video category. The story behind the Haumea video ultimately shows the untold courage and loving spirit that guides the children of Gaza and people of Palestinian. The Haumea video also serves as a promotional beacon for the NCCR’s new worldwide campaign movement of “Love All Love Wins” and the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR).
As the 2UniteAll album rolled out it would receive endorsing quotes from Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Noam Chomsky, Film Director Oliver Stone, former Bethlehem Mayor Vera Baboun, Palestinian Entrepreneur Sam Bahour and famed Palestinian soccer player Alaa Ismail and many more.
Sam Bahour, Palestinian businessman and noted blogger states: “Project Peace On Earth (PPoE) may sound like a fairy tale, that is, until you enter the life and work of its founder and CEO, Steve Robertson. With a simple, but possibly the most meaningful message ever, PPoE aims to promote “Love and Human Rights for All.” Through the omnipotent concept of “healing,” Steve seeks out talent–music, sport and otherwise–to highlight the human damage being caused to the children of Palestine, particularly those in Gaza. A beautiful music album produced by the PPoE effort, 2 Unite All, and the more recently released clip of the Gaza’s children’s choir as they performed for the album, will bring tears to your eyes. Steve was moved to act when Gaza was last decimated by Israel’s military. In that ongoing tragedy, Steve has refused to dehumanize any side of the conflict. His call for “Love and Human Rights for All” must not go unheard!”
Vera Baboun, recent former Mayor of Bethlehem and its first female mayor in history said: “My great heartfelt thanks go out to all of the participating musicians on the 2 Unite All Gaza, Palestine and Middle East peace benefit album: Peter Gabriel, Roger Waters, Stewart Copeland, Serj Tankian, Thomas Bergersen, Philip Lawrence and all the additional musicians. The PPoE new 2 Unite All album also features a precious group of children from Gaza, who live in life or death danger every day. Can you imagine? Of all the children in the world, these are the ones who had the courage to sing out a message of hope to remind us of the power of love and peace. The music video and song Haumea which proclaims the message: ‘We are the voice of One, We are the way to peace, We are the ones who carry the forward light’ – touched my heart. Philip Lawrence’s song, “Begin Again” moved me to tears.
At the bottom line of the current crisis in Gaza, and as Philip Lawrence’s song profoundly reminds us, it is truly time to, “Begin Again.”
Purchase the 2UniteAll album and/or songs here: 2UniteAll.com
Find out more about Project Peace On Earth’s (PPoE) accomplishments in Palestine here.
Please see some of our peace and humanitarian work in Palestine just below.
VISIONS OF PEACE from Hebron, Palestine
LOVE ALL from the base of the Mount of Temptation in Jericho
LOVE ALL concert from Bethlehem Christmas Day 2011
LOVE ALL from Bethlehem Manger Square 2012
FREE ALL from Bethlehem Dividing Wall
FORGIVE ALL CONCERT
If you found value in my article and would like to support my work through Project Peace On Earth please consider: