William Harvey's thoughts about the ability of the arts to cross cultural barriers, including diary entries from his job teaching at Afghanistan National Institute of Music; news about Cultures in Harmony, the non-profit he founded in 2005; reviews of Bollywood movies; and general thoughts about cultural diplomacy.
- Name: William Harvey
- Location: Kabul, Afghanistan
Sunday, March 29, 2009
Monday, March 23, 2009
Taha won First Prize in Sfax, Tunisia, in the National Violin Festival last December. Recently, he won the Jury Prize at the National Festival of Young Music Players in Tunis El Krem. He also is first in his class in school with 18.75 out of 20.
Would you like to ensure that Taha can study with Sarah again this summer? Then please make a tax-deductible donation to Cultures in Harmony!
Here's a picture of Sarah teaching Taha.
Saturday, March 21, 2009
Music at St. Paul's and Middle East Institute present:
THE SUFI CEREMONY OF RUMI:
Sufi Music Concert and a Whirling Dervish Performance
by Ahmet Erdogdular Ensemble
Tuesday March 24th 2009 at 6:00pm
ST. PAUL'S CHAPEL
Located on 117th Street and Amsterdam Avenue
Columbia University, New York, NY
FREE AND OPEN TO THE PUBLIC
The Ottoman Mevlevi Sufi order of Mevlana Jelaleddin Rumi has over the
centuries developed a sophisticated ceremony that integrated
compositions on Rumi's poetry with specific symbolic movements. A
unique symphony accompanied by the remembrance ceremony of the
whirling dervishes comprises the Ayin, reenacting the divine message
Friday, March 20, 2009
Cultural diplomacy organization
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
Two cultural dialogue concerts in New York
Three of my fellow Fellows in The Academy, have organized a terrific project that brings together refugee children with children from New York. The concert is Saturday, March 28, at 3:00 p.m. at the Kaye Playhouse at Hunter College.
Thursday, March 12, 2009
Letter to a young Muslim who thinks I should admire Hitler
I was saddened to receive your invitation to join a group called "Hitler Lovers."
I struggle to understand not only why you feel I would like to join this group, but also why you yourself would want to have anything to do with it. How can you admire someone responsible for the death of millions of people, someone who wanted to take over the world?
As a Muslim, you should reject a vicious, murderous, secular dictator who did not believe in religion himself and instead warped the religion of his country (Christianity) to serve his political ends. I am aware that historically, some Arabs and Muslims did embrace Hitler, but that does not mean they should now or that it was logical for them to do so then. Hitler valued only the so-called "Aryan" race, and had he not been stopped, it is madness to think he would have spared Arabs, blacks, or Latinos the fate he dealt to Jews.
I am also saddened because it seems that you do not understand what Cultures in Harmony is, and why we come to Muslim countries such as yours. We come because at this point in history, relations between Americans and Muslims are at their worst. We believe that by forging friendships between individual people, we can learn to see other groups as collections of individuals, rather than as stereotypes. We believe that the universal language of music reminds us that we all share common emotions, and that each human life has value.
Ours is a message of peace. How could you admire a man whose name is synonymous with death and destruction?
You say you are my friend; certainly, we are friends on Facebook. By Jewish law, I am Jewish, for even though I do not believe in Judaism, my mother's ancestry is 100% Jewish. Since I am your friend, how do you reconcile the anti-Semitism of Hitler with the fact of my Jewishness?
I hope that you think about what I have said, and acknowledge the consummate, unassailable evil of Adolph Hitler. Recent history offers innumerable figures more worthy of your admiration, starting with Elie Wiesel, Mohandas K. Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, and Martin Luther King, Jr. If you wish to admire a Muslim, may I suggest Mohammed El-Baradei, Muhammad Yunus, Shirin Ebadi, Ahmed Rashid, Queen Rania, Sheikha Mozah bint Nasser, Nasr Abu-Zaid, Keith Ellison, to name just a few contemporary individuals.
I look forward to maintaining our friendship and this dialogue, and I look forward to receiving a Facebook invitation to join a group you start dedicated to one of the people I have mentioned.
William Rackow Harvey
p.s. "Harry Raccoli" is the name my great-grandfather made up when he immigrated to the U.S. He thought his actual name, "Samuel Rackow," would prompt anti-Semitism. My legal name is William Raccoli Harvey, but I have chosen this signature for obvious reasons.
Coverage in Dominican Press
Today, a big article about me appeared in Clave, the leading weekly news magazine here. Download the PDF and go to page 34 to read the article in Spanish. I was also a guest on Freddy y Punto, the most-watched TV show in the Dominican Republic. The host, Freddy Beras-Goico, is one of the most beloved personalities in this country and has been regularly on television for nearly half a century. I can attest that he is a master interviewer, making me feel completely at ease and asking great questions even though I was speaking in Spanish and he did not know I was going to be on the show.
This is all thanks to Dr. Jorge Piña, the renowned poet and founder of Culturarte, the Dominican cultural center in the Washington Heights neighborhood in New York City. Walking past Culturarte one day, it struck me as wrong that I travel around the world talking about cultural dialogue, and yet I didn't know any Dominicans while living in a neighborhood of New York that is almost completely Dominican. So, I have partnered with Dr. Piña to launch "Juntos Con Vecinos," an initiative that aims to bring Dominicans and non-Dominicans together in New York.