Though Tunisia and Yemen are not among Arab countries to have normalized relations with Israel recently, a new initiative by artists from the three nations seeks to bring the peoples closer together.
The song “Peace Between Neighbors,” released this week, is performed by Israeli Ziv Yehezkel, a religious Mizrahi Jew who sings primarily in Arabic, and Tunisian singer Noomane Chaari.
The song was penned by a Yemenite artist who wishes to remain anonymous, for his own safety.
In the duet, Yehezkel and Chaari sing in Arabic about their religious identities and their desire for peace and an end to hatred. It includes such lines as “In my faith there is a place for all religions” and “My book calls on neighbors to overcome their differences,” while calling for “peace among neighbors” and building “bridges to one another.”
The music video accompanying the song does not expressly mention either Tunisia or Israel, though it includes imagery from both countries.
“I don’t have a problem with my Jewish brothers and my Christian brothers,” Chaari told Israel’s Kan news. “Our purpose is to bring religions closer together, regardless of national identity.”
“My intention was to spread love and peace between the peoples,” the unnamed Yemenite artist said.
The project was organized by the New York-based Arab Council for Regional Integration, which defines itself as “A pan-Arab initiative dedicated to fostering a spirit of partnership that knows no borders.”
Tunisian Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi said this week the country has no plans to recognize Israel, stating that establishing relations with the Jewish state was “not on the agenda.”
The country’s president Kais Saied said last year, before the decisions by four Arab countries to establish ties with Israel, among them Tunisia’s neighbor Morocco, that such actions were “treachery.”
Chaari told Kan he saw “no problem with normalization. In art there is no such thing as normalization. Art in its very definition accepts everyone, regardless of religion.”
As for whether he feared some in his country may be unfriendly toward his views, Chaari said: “I won’t lie, there’s a little fear, but I hope it will pass.”