Art, Music & Culture

Sheffield calling: Palestine activists take a page from concert against apartheid

For many of us, the Nelson Mandela Freedom concert at London’s Wembley stadium in June 1988 was the “beginning of the end” for apartheid in South Africa. Sixteen years later, could music help to overcome an even greater challenge - to end the Israeli military occupation of Palestine and allow its people to live, at last, in peace and freedom? This month, the Sheffield branch of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign hosted a “global” Concert for Palestine - webcast live over the internet - to call for an end to more than 37 years of Israeli military occupation. 

Western Massachusetts Palestinian Film Festival to be held October 1-3

A three-day festival, “Aqoolu Lakum - Let Me Tell You: The Western Massachusetts Palestinian Film Festival,” will take place in the Pioneer Valley on October 1-3, 2004. The festival, organized by Valley residents from a range of backgrounds, will include twenty-six films and an exhibition of rare photographic material. The festival will show a mixture of documentaries and fiction films about Palestine made largely by Palestinians, with a selection by Israeli and other international filmmakers. 

The Lion Kings of Qalqilya

THE KINGS of peace” is how Saeed Daoud, director of the Qalqilya Zoo, describes the three lions, Jafer, Jaras and Naboko who have recently settled into their new home in the West Bank along with two zebras and a deer. On September 5, the animals were moved from the Ramat Gan Safari Park just outside Tel Aviv to Qalqilya after the Israeli safari park announced plans to help rebuild Qalqilya Zoo by providing it with a number of animals. The zoo has been ravaged by four years of Intifada, with several animals dying and a dramatic drop in the number visitors. The zoo, the only one of its kind in the West Bank, was built in 1986 and is currently home to almost 170 animals. 

Liberation Art of Palestine

Samia Halaby was twelve-years-old when Israeli soldiers arrived in Jerusalem. Born in the midst of Palestine’s bloodiest uprising against British occupation, Halaby was no stranger to colonial oppression, but something was different this time. She sensed it in the indescribable arrogance a British soldier used when he searched her school bag: His expressions, his motions, were the presage of a storm. As a Palestinian artist, Halaby’s work is, intrinsically, cultural resistance. Compared to many of her contemporaries, her circumstances have been rather fortunate. Following several years of exile in Beirut, her family moved to the U.S., where Halaby studied Cubism, Soviet Constructivism, American Abstract Expressionism and the Mexican Mural Movement. 

UNRWA Opens Nimreen Children's Music Centre in Yarmouk

To the rhythms of classical Arab and Palestinian music, UNRWA Commissioner-General Peter Hansen today inaugurated the Nimreen Children’s Music Centre, which for the first time will provide professional music tuition on classical Arabic instruments to 40 gifted students from UNRWA elementary schools in Yarmouk. The children will be selected from a pool of more than 8,000 pupils in the age range 7-9 years, grades 3-5. The Centre, housed in a classroom in UNRWA’s Nimreen school revamped for its new purposes, is a small but well-furnished music studio, with sound and recording equipment, air conditioning and sound insulation. In Syria, UNRWA provides assistance to some 417,400 refugees. 

Open letter to Madonna

Madonna - Esther, shalom, salaam, welcome. On behalf of Israeli Jews, and Palestinian or Israeli Christians and Muslims seriously opposed to your highly controversial visit, we ask you, with compassion, to reconsider the consequences of coming to Israel/Palestine in this context. This visit takes you to the heart of Occupied Territory in Bethlehem: a closed-off prison, a ghetto, whose civilians now have no work, no freedom, no life. They’ve finished their savings, live now on food handouts from foreign donor agencies. They’ve had their land taken, they have no justice through the courts, this entire city of ordinary folk trying to live a decent life, is imprisoned, while Israel calls the shots. 

Destroying History

On August 9, Israeli bulldozers sank their jaws into three buildings in the old city of Hebron. The demolitions, to make way for a settler-only road to connect the Kiryat Arba settlement with the Ibrahimi Mosque, caused an outrage. Imad Hamdan, public relations director for the Hebron Reconstruction Committee, believes Israel is waging a war on the heritage of Hebron’s old city, pointing to the fact that there are tens of other houses slated for demolition, some of which date back to the Mamluk and Ottoman eras and others that were built during the British Mandate. It is a clear indication to Hamdan of an Israeli attempt to Judaize the old city and the area around the Ibrahimi Mosque. 

Reality Check for "Palestinian Idol"

While reality programming was the source of much Palestinian parlor discussion when the genre first hit Arab satellite television, critics didn’t get into the pulpit until Palestinian crooner Ammar Hassan made his way into the final rounds of Superstar, which allows viewers to register their preference for the Arab singer of the year. When Hassan became one of the 12 finalists, a Ramallah sheikh listed the distraction of satellite television among the ills plaguing the Palestinian cause. Hamas officials were more blunt, saying in a statement, “Our people are in need of heroes, resistance fighters and contributors to building the country and are not in need of singers, corruption mongers and advocates of immorality.” 

Book Review: Bethlehem Besieged

Palestinians should have the permission to narrate their own lives, their own hopes, their own history. Putting tragedies, events and experiences into words help ease turmoil and defuse the terror. Writing provides a sense of control and a sense of understanding. For some, writing is a struggle, a matter of survival. As eyewitnesses of tomorrow’s news, we cannot hope to understand what is going on without access to alternative information resources. The compelling stories of Mitri Raheb, a Palestinian Christian pastor of the Evangelical Christmas Church where he ministers to his people in Bethlehem, gives us a window not only into what it is like to have grown up under occupation but also into his soul. 

The intellectual, the maestro, and the "piece process"

The recent Geneva performance by the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra, created by the late Edward Said and the world-famous musician Daniel Barenboim, was cultural diplomacy at its best, and at the same time represented the kind of politics that, quite simply, defies the very conventions of politics. Peace making made fun (and beautiful), but not watered down, the performance was a sophisticated, classic display of the pen’s superiority over the sword, the violin over the rifle. Ismail Khalidi reflects upon the orchedstra’s talent and significance for EI