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Palestine's Fiddler On The Roof

Wars create heroes. One of the heroes created by the Palestinian Intifada, which was called the children's war, was 9 year old Ramzi Hussein. He became its poster boy, reports CBS News Correspondent Bob Simon.

"I was always throwing the stones every day, I wake up at 8:00, 9:00, Throwing stones until 12:00. I didn't eat, I like to throw stones always," he says.

This rebel with a cause was jailed by the Israelis three times and shot several times before he was 12.

But what do you do when the war is over and you're a washed up hero at 14? You do something else.

A scout for the Palestine National Conservatory of Music spotted Ramzi. He had the rhythm. He had the timing. It was time for him to transform from fighter to fiddler.

A national conservatory without a nation is a revolutionary concept. It was started only four years ago in an old Arab house on the West Bank. It already has four hundred students.

Of the eight players in Ramzi's group, five have done time in Israeli jails.

And Ramzi? He's a poster boy again. The conservatory wants donations, and Ramzi is the draw.

"He's been grasping things very rapidly," says conservatory founder Ohel Khouri. "He's been to camps, he's been to concerts, he's been to many things in this very short time, but he's moved a lot. If this kid started when he was eight, now he would be a world class, probably, violinist."

He started only two years ago in the refugee camp that has always been his home. He discovered quickly that it's easier to be on target than on key, but he practices three hours a day every day -- both the classical music which is his homework and the Arabic music which is his passion.

The conservatory's closing concert was a main social event of the season. And far from the conservatory, kids from all over the occupied territories are picking up instruments -- instruments not only of music but, as the older ones see it, of nation-building.

What if another intifada began tomorrow?

"I can fight them with the music, I can go to all the world and say for them I am Palestinian. We need the freedom," says Ramzi.

Meanwhile, the struggle continues and Ramzi is still out there in front, going village to village. This time, however, he is killing them softly, with his song.

Reported by Bob Simon
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