2012 Middle East Tour / Palestine (Nov.13-17)
We started booking our Middle East tour in early 2012. We would not know that Nov.15th was the Palestinian Independence Day and that we 'd get deeply involved in it, the political tactics and war. The officials of Palestine announced this festival a month and a half before the tour started and we already scheduled the dates in Palestine during this period. We arrive on the 13th and the next day, Israeli bombed Gaza and killed the Hamas commander.

Nov.13th / The Prime Mister's Office in Ramallah, Palestine
The 1st day in Palestine, we were invited to the Ramallah Culture Palace and attended the Youth Week event. There were presentation of Palestinian dance and political deligations. We got united with the Yamamoto School Japan Mission, a group of 40 Japanese and the opera singer Ms. Masako Shindo gave the opening song of the Palestinian national anthem. And later this day, we were invited to the Prime Minister, Mr. Salam Fayyad's office.

Nov.14th / Jericho Community Center, Jericho, Palestine

I actually do not know what this place is called and don't have any pictures of it yet. But we performed with Ms. Masako Shindo and it went very well. My understanding is that Mr. Yasser Arafat would come into this place sometimes and work in his office which was a couple of rooms away from where we performed.  
YouTube Clip Soran-Bushi

Nov.15th / Bethlehem Peace Center Square, Bethlehem, Palestine

Now the date is Nov.15th, the Independence Day of Palestine. Even though this is not widely known to the world, the Palestinian government had planned the 4 day festival, Palestine Youth Week and invited thousands of foreign supporters. But Israel started bombing Gaza and it would not stop. So many events were cancelled on this day.

We would not know where we'd be performing, but they prepared a very special place for us. They took us to Bethlehem, to the Church of Nativity - Birth Place of Jesus Christ.

On June 29th, 2012, this church became the first Palestinian site to be listed as a World Heritage Site by the UNESCO World Heritage Committee. Crazy Israel and US oppsed it, but it was monumental for Palestinians. And we found a space to perform, the square across from the church, in front of the Bethlehem Peace Center.

The high light was THE SON, a song that I wrote after reading the book by Mosab Hassan Yusef, The Son Of Hamas. On the lyrics, I am challenging Mosab, as the 1st verse explains that Israel brainwashed him and made him mad. There are parts that reffer to collapse of Oslo Accord and the 2009 Gaza bombing. The song is dedicated to Palestinians in the hope of its own state.

We performed it in front of Bethlehem Peace Center and the people of Palestine on the Palestinian Independence Day. What an appropriate situation that was!

This had an impact on me and I decided that I will stand up and keep supporting Palestine with mighty power of music.

YouTube Clips

Bon-Odori (Improvisation)

The Son

Nov.16th / Value's Restaurant & Lounge, Ramallah, Palestine

This gig was supposed to be fun, but as the bombing in Gaza had escalated and the owner was very concerned since his family was still in Gaza. He built this restaurant 2 years ago and moved to the West Bank, but Israel does not allow his family to move out of Gaza.

We decided not to play any of the political songs. We practiced in the hotel a few standards, performed "Just The Way You Are", "Unchained Melody" and "Libertango" with just short rehearsal. But the audience was rather quiet. It was difficult for us too.

But the young staff at the restaurant cheered us up, joking around and laughing. We saw the flash of bombing after the gig.. It was so surreal

Nov.17th / Video Location, Ramallah, Palestine

 The gig on the 17th was cancelled, so we decided to shoot a video in Ramallah. But as we got close to the checkpoint, I saw children throwing rocks at Israeli soldiers. How many times have I seen this on TV, but now it was happening right in front of my eyes. It was the same location, the same children who greeted us with smiles waving Palestinian flags on Tuesday. Then we saw a white smoke rising in front of us and was victimized of tear gas....We got suffocated. It really hurts!


So on the tour of Palestine, we had a mixed emotion of fun, heart-warming and anger. Then we had to go to Jerusalem to play in front of Israelis the next day. It was quite an experience to say the least....
                              Middle East Tour / Egypt Middle East Tour / Israel                                       


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