It Sounds Better in English

In an attempt to bring Israelis and Palestinians closer together, the Jerusalem-based All For Peace radio station has added English-language programs to its schedule.

The founders of All For Peace, a new radio station that brings together Israeli and Palestinian staff members, originally conceived of a program schedule that would alternate between Hebrew and Arabic broadcasts, blending a few talk or news hours into a diverse blend of music shows. The goal was to promote intercultural awareness between Arabs and Jews in their own languages, and to reinstill hope for the future of the region.

But when Mike Brand, a London native living just outside Kfar Sava, brought them a demo tape three months ago, they realized that they should add English to the mix. "English is a language that both sides understand," explained Maysa Baransi-Siniora, the Palestinian co-director of All For Peace. "By having some English shows, we're increasing the percentage of broadcast time that both sides can enjoy."

The station now has three English-language shows: one, a youth program called "Crossing Borders," is produced by native Israelis. Brand is airing his interview show, "Rainbow," every Sunday and Thursday, and within a few weeks All For Peace will introduce a music program by Dan Sieradski, a student in Israel for the year who spins records in his native New York under the pseudonym "Mobius."

Brand, 46, started his radio career as a teenager, when he got a job as a junior clerk and then as a researcher at the BBC. At the same time, he got his first DJ-ing experience at the internal radio station of one of London's hospitals. Since moving to Israel in 1976, he has written trade journalism about off-shore radio for British and European publications including Radio Magazine and Offshore Echos, as well as for his own Web site about off-shore radio.

Today, Brand holds a day job as a purchaser for a high-tech company, but says that radio is his real love. His one-hour show on All For Peace features interviews with peace activists, "to give a stage to humanitarian organizations that bring together Israelis and Palestinians."

"There are so many groups out there working to bring people together, it's incredible," he told Anglo File. "The program shows the positive side of what is going on here. There are so many people in Israel and the Palestinian Authority who are looking for dialogue. The other side is not as scary as the official media make them out to be. I want people to know that someone on the other side is listening. Maybe some people will say `I want to help, too,' and the organizations can swell their ranks."

He added that in the future, he might feature organizations that promote peace between different populations of Israelis. "I will interview anyone if it means bringing two different people together," he said.

In contrast to "Rainbow," Dan Sieradski's show "The Mobious Mixdown" is almost all music. Through his show, he plans to introduce Israelis and Palestinians to his favorite hip-hop and indie-rock selections, as well as some reggae and club music. His goal, he says, is simply to "bring good music to the people of Israel and the Palestinian territories."

Sieradski arrived in Israel just a few weeks ago; he is studying Bible and Talmud at the Pardes Institute in Jerusalem as a Dorot Fellow. The Dorot Fellowship aims to produce future Jewish leaders, but chances are slim Sieradski will do anything "mainstream" in the future. The 25-year-old yeshiva and college dropout thrives on pushing cultural envelopes. He is the founder of the fringe Jewish news weblog Jewschool, an experienced DJ, graphic artist, party promoter and music journalist and writer of the internet site He is also the director of the Open Source Judaism Project founded by controversial "Nothing Sacred" author Douglas Rushkoff.

The duality of Sieradski's rebelliousness and religiosity is embodied in his pseudonym. "A mobius strip seems to have two sides," he explained, "but really has one. I have an obsession with paradoxes. I'm amused by them."

Working for All For Peace is the perfect opportunity, Sieradski said, to combine Dorot's volunteerism requirement with his call to spin records and his political worldviews. "I come across as right-wing to my left-wing friends, but to my right-wing friends I'm the most vehement lefty there is," he says.

Currently, All For Peace, generated from Jerusalem, is broadcast exclusively over the Internet, at The organization, funded mostly by the European Union and run as a joint project of Biladi, The Jerusalem Times and The Jewish-Arab Centre for Peace, has been given rights to one of the Palestinian Authority's radio frequencies, and owns a radio transmitter, but due to bureaucratic problems the transmitter has been sitting in a Tel Aviv customs office for several months.

Israeli customs officials may not release radio equipment, Baransi-Siniora explained, until the owner has provided proof that they have rights to an approved radio frequency. Since peace negotiations have stopped, she says, obtaining acceptable paperwork from the Palestinian Authority that would verify the station's use of a PA frequency has become a time-consuming and frustrating task. Siniora added that the All For Peace programs would be on the air as soon as she can arrange for their transmitter to reach its intended home in Ramallah.

"I believe in this station, because it's broadcasting to the people who matter, to the masses," Brand said, "But right now we're being accessed mainly by Israelis and by people around the world. I don't know how many Palestinians have internet access. That's why it's imperative that we get on FM as soon as possible."