Art, Music & Culture

Three Cities Against the Wall: Ramallah, Tel Aviv, New York

27 October 2005

Three Cities Against the Wall is an exhibition protesting the Separation Wall under construction by Israel in the Occupied Territories of Palestine. This project involves groups of artists in Ramallah, Palestine; Tel Aviv, Israel; and New York City. The show will be held simultaneously in all three cities in November 2005. Through this collaborative exhibition, the organizers and participating artists will draw attention to the reality of the Wall and its disastrous impact on the daily lives of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians by the separation of Palestinian communities from each other and from their fertile lands, water resources, schools, hospitals and work places; thereby “contributing to the departure of Palestinian populations,” as the International Court of Justice (ICJ) has warned.

Film review: "Just Married" divorced from the bigger picture

Maureen Clare Murphy
29 September 2005

The theme of Just Married is Israel’s discriminatory family reunification process, which has been frozen since 2003. Because no unification applications are currently being accepted, Palestinians from the occupied West Bank (excluding Jerusalem, which Israel illegally annexed in 1967) and Gaza Strip who marry Israeli citizens or residents are unable to legally live with their spouses in Israel or occupied East Jerusalem. However, as it the film focuses on just two newly-married couples and the problems they face, the magnitude of the problem is unclear to the viewer, as is Israel’s motivations behind the freezing of the process.

Four one-act plays by Palestinian playwrights to support art exhibition

27 September 2005

The rarely heard voices of Palestinian playwrights come to New York City on October 16-17 for a unique and important theatrical benefit, Acts for Palestine, to support a visual art exhibition entitled Made in Palestine, an exhibition of the contemporary art of Palestine, featuring 23 Palestinian artists. Tragedy, seeping into daily life, fuels the Palestinian playwright at home and in exile. Cultural poignancy, the beloved ancient soil of literary tradition, and revolutionary hope combine to create literary expressions that grip the viewer as much as the playwright.

"A Prayer Band": Palestinian poet Suheir Hammad on Hurricane Katrina

Suheir Hammad
13 September 2005

A Palestinian-American from Brooklyn, Suheir Hammad has appeared on the HBO show “Russell Simmons Presents Def Poetry,” hosted by Mos Def. Her poems have been featured in numerous publications, on the BBC World Service, and National Public Radio. Hammad recently wrote two poems about Hurricane Katrina and the aftermath. The first reprinted here, “A Prayer Band”, was performed at an event organised by Hammad called “Refugees for Refugees” in New York City on September 9th, which raised $5,000 for hurricane relief. Suheir Hammad arrived in Jackson, Mississippi yesterday, to deliver the money personally and help with direct relief efforts.

Well-known UK graffiti artist Banksy hacks the Wall

Nigel Parry
2 September 2005

”How illegal is it to vandalize a wall,” asks Banksy in his website introduction to his Wall project, “if the wall itself has been deemed unlawful by the International Court of Justice? The Israeli government is building a wall surrounding the occupied Palestinian territories. It stands three times the height of the Berlin wall and will eventually run for over 700km - the distance from London to Zurich. The International Court of Justice last year ruled the wall and its associated regime is illegal. It essentially turns Palestine into the world’s largest open-air prison.”

Israeli Army stops West Bank mural project, citing Gaza disengagement

31 August 2005

A Palestinian family from the town of Mas’ha, recently collaborated with US, Palestinian, International and Israeli artists and activists to paint a mural of hope and resilience on the 280 feet long by 24 feet high Occupation Wall that faces their front door. On 22 August 2005, the Israeli commander of the Salfit region threatened to take away the key that lets the family out of their home if the US, Palestinian and Israeli artists did not cease painting immediately and vacate the premises. He considered the mural of trees, flowers and birds a “provocation” to the Gaza settlers being relocated to the West Bank.

Freedom for Palestine: Ticket-holders only?

Maureen Clare Murphy
31 August 2005

Invitations clutched in their hands, last week the audience members of the East West Diwan Orchestra squeezed past uniformed, armed guards and headed into the Ramallah Cultural Palace auditorium. The concert, performed by both Israeli and Palestinian musicians and conducted by world-renowned Israeli musician Daniel Barenboim, was definitely one of the more newsworthy cultural events in Palestine this year. Yet it was unadvertised, and only at the last minute were local photographers allowed to document the event for Palestinian papers.

Video: Balata Youth Drama and Dance Group Tours the UK

Jeff Handmaker
26 August 2005

The first international tour of the Balata Youth Drama and Dance Group travelled to the United Kingdom in August 2005. The Group are a project of the Yafa Cultural Centre (YCC), which is based in Balata Refugee Camp in Nablus. This was Balata’s ‘A’edoon tour - “we will return”. The tour got off to a difficult start. One child in the Group, 16-year old Mohamed, was arrested by the Israeli Occupying Force on the 25th of July as the group crossed the border from Palestine into Jordan. One-month later, Mohamed continued to be held in administrative detention, being interrogated without charge and without access to a legal representative or his family. Jeff Handmaker reports.

Palestinian woman is first Arab woman to climb Europe's highest peak

19 August 2005

Well-known Palestinian female mountain climber, Suzanne Al-Houby, said on Sunday that she is to arrange a charity program for Palestinian children in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. Al Houby, who is originally from Yaffa, is proud to be the first Palestinian woman to climb Mt. Elbrus (5642m.), the highest point of Europe in August 1, 2005, Kilimanjaro (2002), the highest peak in Africa, Mont Blanc in France (2004), Everest Base Camp in Nepal (2003).

Breathing life into Nablus

Maureen Clare Murphy and
Zachary Wales
8 August 2005

Nablusi architect Naseer Arafat’s current project, “a ten year dream,” as he calls it, is the restoration of an estate that was once owned by an influential sheikh and housed a residence, soap factory and reception hall. The compound, which Arafat describes as having a “unique composition,” is nestled in Nablus’ Old City, home to 20,000 Palestinians and some 2,560 historic buildings, mostly constructed during the Ottoman period, as well as some from the Mameluke, Crusader, Byzantine and Roman eras.

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