With the Middle East peace process again in tatters, one boldface name is offering a dose of reggae for the battered sides.
Singer Ziggy Marley, son of late reggae superstar Bob Marley, has penned “Shalom Salaam,” which, as he told the Forward in an interview, calls for peace between Israelis and Palestinians.
“I understand the points of view of the different people in the region and the concerns of the different factions,” said Marley, who has won two Grammy awards with his former band, Ziggy Marley and the Melody Makers. He performed the new song on his recent American tour supporting his first solo effort, “Dragonfly.”
“There are cries for justice and understanding from the Palestinian side and the same cries are heard from the Israeli side,” he continued. “The messages of suicide bombs and helicopter strikes, one injustice is as bad as the next injustice. No one wins or makes their point; both are doing something wrong.”
In addition to the Arabic and Hebrew words for peace that constitute the song’s title, Marley also juxtaposes the experiences of Israelis and Palestinians and condemns those who kill in the name of peace. In the song, he ultimately calls for a state in which both people can live in peace:
Marley was inspired to write the song from reading local newspapers and watching CNN from his home in Jamaica. He said the conflict struck a personal chord in him because, as a practicing Rastafarian, the Middle East region is significant to people of his culture.
“Israel and that whole region means a lot to me spiritually,” Marley said. “My faith is closely related to Israel. We read the Old Testament and relate to the stories of Abraham and Moses.”
Marley also contends that the struggle of the African people is echoed in the biblical story of slavery in Egypt.
Just as Marley’s stance on the conflict is apolitical, so are his views on how to solve the crisis.
“Like the song, I am both optimistic and pessimistic about the situation,” he said. “I am tired of it and want a solution. We have to work out our problems in a peaceful and loving way unless we want to live with death every day.”
Although Marley offers no specific solutions to the three-year-long intifada, his peaceful position echoes that of his late father, who eschewed specific politics but called for an ambiguous peace in the world.
“The bloodshed is a cycle and continues with each death,” the younger Marley said. “Human beings have to find love in their hearts to end it.”