DJ Srulick Einhorn: We want the three regions to play music together. We don’t want to talk about politics.Srulick Einhorn had an idea.
An Israeli club DJ who has helped make ethnic Arab music the hottest late-night trend in fashionable nightspots in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, the 26-year-old Tel Avivian said to himself ‘if Arab music has become so popular among Israelis, then bringing Arab DJs to Israel will be even better.’
So last week, Einhorn made history of sorts by bringing together Palestinian, Jordanian and Israeli DJs under one roof in Jerusalem in the name of coexistence and a common love of fusing together traditional Arab music with club rhythms.
Bridge For Peace featuring Einhorn, Palestinian DJ Khalil from Ramallah, and Jordanian DJ Kalice from Amman, drew over 800 people to Jerusalem’s bursting after-midnight dance club Haoman 17, where Israelis gyrated to the dizzying sounds of the ancient/modern music – music which until recently was only heard on static-filled radio stations, at bootleg CD stores in the back of bus stations, and among the immigrant grandparents of the revelers who originally came from places like Morocco or Syria.
“It’s music that I like and that I want to play. I’m not showing support for the Right or the Left,” the 26-year-old Einhorn told ISRAEL21c. “We want the three regions to play music together. We don’t want to talk about politics.”
As one of Israel’s leading DJs, Einhorn was responsible for spearheading the introduction of Arabic music to Tel Aviv.
“In about 1999, I started playing ethnic Arab music in the clubs – it was a very underground thing, and I was really doing it for myself, I didn’t know if anyone else liked it,” said Einhorn, who’s also a successful producer for modern world music act Angel Tears.
“At first, Israelis didn’t really want to hear it – it’s an acquired taste. Sephardim grew up with this kind of music from their parents and grandparents, but Ashkenazim weren’t really embracing it,” he added.
Long ignored by Israelis as a parochial sign of the past, Arabic music has slowly caught on in the clubs which usually compete in trendiness quotient with the hippest nightspots in New York or Europe.
“There’s some fantastic music from the Arab world, but we don’t usually get it in Israel. Even though they’re our neighbors, we’re sort of culturally isolated,” said Einhorn.
“Lots of people here think we (Israelis) are European and we are on the standard with American. But the fact is that we are here in the Middle East and are sitting next to Arab neighbors,” Assaf Ochayon, 29, told The Seattle Times. Ochayon, whose mother is from Morocco, co-owns Shoshanna Johnson, a Tel Aviv club that has been one of the forerunners in the Arab music cosmopolitan scene.
Einhorn practiced his trade at the bar of one of Tel Aviv’s top restaurants Hamara and quickly began drawing a line outside the door.
“The trend has caught on big time – today, there’s probably five DJs playing Arab music in Tel Aviv now. In the last month, I’ve started getting calls from the periphery – like Beersheba and Haifa asking me to play in clubs there. That never happened before,” said Einhorn.
By 2001, Einhorn had become totally immersed in Arabic music and its culture and decided to travel east to Israel’s neighbor Amman in search of like-minded DJs.
“I was a little apprehensive at first about going there, but the Jordanians were so hospitable like ‘you’re from Israel? That’s so nice!’ I met Kalice, and we became friends – he took us around the whole time and we went to Jordanian clubs. After I got back, we would SMS each other all the time,” said Einhorn.
Morad Kalice, aka DJ Kalice, 26, is considered by many to be Jordan’s first proper underground house DJ. With a career spanning over ten years, Kalice has explored almost every genre of music including jazz, funk and disco, as well as dance music for the masses and he has become an in-demand DJ at many of Jordan’s underground parties. His repertoire now includes a blend of minimal, tech and progressive house performed throughout his recent residency at Prana Club in Amman since 2004.
Enihorn and Kalice kept their relationship going, and discussed the idea of putting on a joint show in Israel, but schedules and visa problems always prevented it from happening, said Einhorn.
“Then about a month ago, I met Khalil in Ramallah – he’s a very talented DJ. He gave me some Arab music, and we discussed the idea of doing a show together with Kalice – and Bridge for Peace resulted,” Einhorn said.
Khalil, 37, owner of a music store in Ramallah, has been spinning for over 11 years. The father of three, he regularly appears at such Ramallah venues as the Grand Park, Almonds and Royal Kings.
“It’s a very nice thing that Israeli kids are listening to Arabic music. It’s exciting,” Khalil told ISRAEL21c.
At the show, the young crowd kept time with authentically dressed belly dancers who helped create the Middle Eastern atmosphere.
“Give it up for DJ Khalil,” shouted Einhorn, as he handed over the turntables to Khalil above the roar of the crowd and the music, and against the backdrop of giant Israeli, Palestinian and Jordanian flags.
One party-goer named Oded came up for air to tell reporters, “It doesn’t matter to me if it’s a Jew or an Arab spinning the discs, it’s all music.”
For their part, Khalil and Kalice both felt that the experience was positive.
“I didn’t feel any difference playing music for an Israeli crowd because I’m Palestinian,” said Khalil.
Fresh off the buzz of the event which exceeded his expectations, Einhorn is ready to do it again.
“It was fantastic. We’re going to do another one in a couple months,” he said. Both Einhorn and Khalil said they would like to organize a similar event in Ramallah
“They were very excited about performing for a Jewish audience in Jerusalem,” said Einhorn. “So why can’t we do the same for an Arab audience?”