Ram FM

When I blogged the other week about the Palestine/Israeli problem getting worse I didn’t even imagine then that it could get as bad as it is. But this morning just as I was going into Brixton station I caught, on my iPOd, the beginning of a piece on the Today Programme on a relatively new radio station, Ram FM and for the first time in days I can see something that might, possibly create something good over there.

One of the big problems in any area where there is conflict is the difficulty of getting a balanced view of what is going on. Even when there is access to balanced programming it is perceived by many as unbalanced – note the number of complaints that go into the BBC of equal number that accuse the BBC of being either anti-Semitic or pro-Israeli in their coverage. Ram FM is trying to be different; it is reaching out to Israeli’s and Palestinians using pop music and balanced news bulletins.

It was started up by a South African company that did a similar thing in the dying days of apartheid. And it seems to be working with listeners from both communities. One of the most important messages that I took away from the LIBG Fringe Meeting on Palestine last year was the need, in order to create peace, the people had to start seeing each other as human beings. Changing habits, getting the kids to stop throwing stones at each other in the street, as they do in the West Bank, is a pre-requisite of not a dividend from peace.

I am in awe of those like Ram FM who get in and start doing the right stuff on the ground. It is small, things may get worse before they get better but someone somewhere is trying to reconcile ordinary people to each other.

It is hard though even to attempt to look positive; a Bedouin friend was visiting his family farm last week, which is on the main road from Egypt to Israel in north Sinai. He tells me that the guns, tanks and explosions from Gaza made his family house shudder. They have there own problems. Egypt, so often portrayed as a benevolent host of peace talks in the Middle East is particularly harsh on the Bedouins in north Sinai. there have been demostrations against the governemnt and he tells me there are so many Bedouin in prison now from the north, they are literally full up.

As I write to my friend, telling him how worried I am about Gaza and how sad it makes me, he replies that I must stop worrying about the whole world; that this is the life and that it is only by seeing the evil that you can understand the good. I can even see in my mind his shoulders being shrugged!


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