Interview with Iranian/Australian Writer & Actor Osamah Sami by Kyriaki Maragozidis. Originally broadcast 13/6/16 Live to Air on Voiceprint Arts, Three D Radio 93.7fm in South Australia.
Interview with Iranian/Australian Writer & Actor Osamah Sami by Kyriaki Maragozidis. Originally broadcast 13/6/16 Live to Air on Voiceprint Arts, Three D Radio 93.7fm in South Australia.
“Tales of a City by the Sea’ is a perceptive story that magnificently captures the drama of star-crossed lovers in the besieged Gaza strip.”
In Daily – Adelaide’s independent news
This is wide-eyed saga of everyday Palestinians struggling to survive and find normality, hope and love in a region affected by hostility. It is an oddly poetic tale, whose complexity and subtleties of differing narrative viewpoint are maintained by axioms, a strong multi-cultural ensemble and superb lead performances.
Samah Sabawi’s script has received widespread acclaim for its insight into Palestinian life. The playwright’s remarkable sensitivity and artistry confers enormous authority on this portrayal of a beleaguered people.
The play focuses on Jomana (Helena Sawires), a Palestinian woman living in a refugee camp, and depicts life under the Israeli bombardment and siege. She is chaperone to her cousin Lama (Emina Ashman), who is unhappily engaged to Ali (Reece Vella).
When Rami (Osamah Sami), an American-born Palestinian doctor, arrives on the “Free Gaza” boats in August 2008, he and Jomana fall in love. When it is time to leave, Rami promises to sell his clinic in America and return to Jomana and his ancestral homeland.
The play gives us a prophetic flavour of the way people can culturally, politically, ideologically and physically be separated. There are sharp, pertinent scenes in which the lovers speak over Skype and renew their promises. But will the pair live happily ever after?
This play stands or falls by its love affair between the thoroughly decent Texan doctor, Rami, and the poetically romantic Jomana. And this love affair has all the passion of desperate people in desperate times and precarious situations. Sawires is well cast; she puts presence into every scene and bounces well off Sami, who brilliantly portrays an American caught between multiple loyalties. Read more…
The Barefoot Review
Where there is a wall, there is also a city its inhabitants call home in the sacred and emotional way expected of communities deeply attached to their history and culture; especially those coping with just over half a century of war in all its guises and forms, greater or lesser, challenging their right to exist.
Samah Sabawi’s Tales of a City by The Sea is poetically beautiful, discerning and honest in its examination of life in Gaza.
No angry, politicised, locked in sensationalism to be found here, despite what has been said of this work during 2016. Sabawi’s play is an astutely balanced, modern appraisal of what it means to live as a Palestinian under siege. Read more…
Adelaide Theatre Guide
June 11, 2016
This is a tale of conflict and survival told principally through the stories of two couples during the 2008 Gaza war.
Jomana (Helen Sawires) is a Palestinian journalist in Gaza who meets American born Palestinian doctor, Rami, (Osamah Sami) who arrives on board one of small boats that breaks the Israeli blockade.
Ali (Reece Vella) and Lama (Emina Ashman) are residents of Gaza. He loves her but she’s unsure whether to marry him or not.
The play traces the development of these two relationships amid the death and destruction that is everyday life in Gaza.
Samah Sabawi has created a potent narrative that brims with raw examples of the reality of living under a hostile authority. She explores relationships and family values in a place where people fight to retain some sense of normality amid the daily death toll; where “funerals and weddings have become part of daily life”. Read more
While Sabawi’s poem expresses the guilt Palestinians in diaspora feel when thinking of loved ones back home, Jelec’s animation video tries to take the message further so it can resonate with a larger audience.
Video animation by Marta Jelec
Music: Bonobo- Recurring
Marta Jelec made this stop motion animation for a project she’s doing for a Digital and Cyberculture Studies module. She explains “Sabawi’s poem, originally written in English and published online, describes the internal struggles her husband faces when confronting the guilt of leaving his family behind in Palestine, while he lives his life of ‘liberty’. By creating an animation of the poem, I aim to make the poetry more accessible to an English speaking, non Palestinian audience, by using non-ethnicised characters and simple and symbolic imagery. I aim to increase the possibility of empathy within digital audiences outside of Palestine”.
Defying the Universe
Are your loved ones trapped behind the wall
Do they need the army’s permission
For their prayers to reach the sky
For their love to cross the ocean
And touch your thirsty heart
Are your loved ones trapped
Do you yearn to be in your family home
And when you call them
Do they always say
“we are well, alhamdollelah”
Does it surprise you
That they are whole
But you… you are broken
Must they always worry about you
Urge you to have faith in your exile
Must they pity you
For not breathing the air
Of your ancestors’ land
Must they always comfort you
Even when the bombs are falling
Do you ever wonder who is walled in
Is it you, or is it them
And when it finally dawns upon you
That their dignity sets them free
Do you feel ashamed of your liberty
Are your loved ones trapped behind the wall
Do they tell you stories
Of how they survive
The trees they’ve replanted
The homes they’ve rebuilt
Do they assure you life goes on
Old men still fiddle with their prayer beads
Mothers still bake mamoul on Eid
Families still gather under the canopies
With loaded bunches of grapes
Dangling above their heads
They nibble on watermelon seeds
They drink meramiah tea
Women perfect the art of match-making
Men talk of freedom and democracy
Children climb on a sycamore tree
Lovers woe in secrecy
And no matter how the conditions are adverse
Do your loved ones defy this universe
Your loved ones defy this universe
Samah Sabawi wrote Defying the Universe during the aftermath of Israel’s assault on Gaza in 2008-2009.
Posted on April 25.
It has become commonplace when reading about Gaza to come across descriptions of it as an “Islamist enclave” or “Hamas-controlled territory” and so on. In case someone exists who does not know what Hamas is all about, commentators make sure their readers understand that it is the “fundamentalist” group bent on the “destruction of Israel” and nothing else.
The Palestinians of Gaza, therefore, are often categorized as either ardent Hamas supporters or suppressed dissidents, including women, who receive the severest treatment imaginable, not only from the Hamas government, but also from misogynistic and backward average male residents. Such categorizations are then followed by sweeping generalizations about each of these stereotypes. Whereas the Hamas supporters consist of “terrorists” and “bloodthirsty barbarians,” the dissents are seen as peace-loving minorities who seek neighborly relations with Israel, the occupying entity.
A recent example of such portrayals can be found in a feature story published in The Independent on April 13. In “Tales from Gaza: What Is Life Really Like in ‘the World’s Largest Outdoor Prison’?” the author alledges to provides “a small snapshot into life in Gaza.” Before he proceeds, however, he assures us that what follows are “testimonies” by people “who can rarely get their voices heard.”
At the start of six interviews, the author makes clear that all of those featured are men not because that was his intention — he is a Westerner who believes in gender equality after all — but because in his two and a half days in Gaza, he could not find a woman willing to speak to him “independently.” In fact, the only occasion when he had the chance to speak to a woman, he tells us, was in the presence of a male guardian, the woman’s husband in this particular instance. Hence, while he was able to “give voice” to men, his attempts to do the same for women were all thwarted.
Such assertions play into Orientalist notions. This usually results from foreign journalists coming to Gaza with a set of preconceptions about the place and its people and then seeking to confirm them rather than verify them. While Gaza is, indeed, no haven for women or anyone else, there are thousands of educated women who are willing to speak for themselves and do so in every field, from medicine, theater, and politics to fishing and farming.
Just a few months ago, a play written by the renowned Palestinian writer Samah Sabawi was read at one of Gaza’s cultural centers, which continue to thrive despite Israel’s ceaseless attempts at cultural de-development. Nearly all the participants who performed the play were women, as was the case with the vast majority of the audience. They were not accompanied by husbands, brothers or fathers in order to attend or to perform.
Events like this, however, hardly ever make it into the mainstream media. Moreover, any mention of a considerable number of women going out without a hijab instantly provokes expressions of surprise by those who have only heard about Gaza through mainstream and particularly Western publications. To say women in Gaza are also allowed to drive would sound like a lie to many ears.
Women are not the only part of this story. To claim that Gaza is “Islamist” automatically dismisses the existence of the leftist and secular groups there, most of which denounce religion in its totality. Homogenizing “life in Gaza” could not be more obvious than in The Independent feature.
Of the six interviews the author conducted, one was with a Hamas official, while four were with blue-collar male workers, and the remaining one was with an unemployed man. Despite being at odds with Israel, five of them belong to the category of “ready to forget the past,” has no problem inviting former Israel prime minister Ariel Sharon for coffee, and even views Yitzhak Rabin — the man behind the Iron Fist that broke hundreds of bone in the lead up to and during the first Palestinian intifada — as a man of peace.
With the exception of the Hamas official, the interviewees followed suit in reiterating the same unconditional desire to achieve peace with Israel that one might think no other viewpoint existed. At the same time, they viewed Hamas as the primary source of their distress. Israel was seen as only secondary to their everyday ordeal.
That no evidence was provided to challenge the views in question suggests that there is none — just as the author claims to have found no women able to speak to him. Thus, portraying the residents of Gaza as a homogenous people who all experience life in the same way is condescending at best and Orientalist at worst. The views expressed in the article are undeniably extant but do not reflect the reality.
Israel, which has launched two deadly assaults on Gaza in less than five years, is rarely perceived as a friendly entity. The vast majority of the politicized and non-politicized segments of Gazan society are not ready to “forget the past” that continues to shape the lives of 1.1 million local Palestinians officially registered as refugees at the United Nations Relief and Works Agency.
Rana Baker is a student of business administration in Gaza and writes for the Electronic Intifada
This article appeared here: http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2013/04/gaza-misconceptions-women.html#ixzz2RVnXaJdB
Poet Suheir Hammad performs two spine-tingling spoken-word pieces: “What I Will” and “break (clustered)” — meditations on war and peace, on women and power. Wait for the astonishing line: “Do not fear what has blown up. If you must, fear the unexploded.”
In her poems and plays, Suheir Hammad blends the stories and sounds of her Palestinian-American heritage with the vibrant language of Brooklyn to create a passionately modern voice. Full bio »
Ramzi Aburedwan was one such child, who grew up in the refugee camp of Al Amari near Ramallah. At the tender age of 8, he witnessed his best friend being killed during an Israeli military operation. He then found himself throwing stones during the first Intifada and as a street combatant Aburedwan seemed destined for an Israeli prison or a Palestinian martyr’s poster. But fate decided to intervene.
At 17, he was invited to a music workshop in Al Bireh, adjacent to Ramallah, where he fell in love with the art and started to learn to play the viola. Replacing stones with a musical instrument led to a journey of channelling his anger into creativity and of personal transformation.
After studying for a year at the Edward Said National Conservatory of Music (ESNCM) in Ramallah and thereafter attending a summer workshop in the United States — at the Apple Hill Centre for Chamber Music of New Hampshire — he enrolled at the Conservatoire National de Region d’Angers.
In 2000 Ramzi created the ensemble “Dal’Ouna”, music that symbolised the link between East and West. It flowed from an encounter between Palestine and France, from the melting of pure traditional Middle Eastern songs with mixed jazzy compositions, played on Western classical musical instruments (viola, violin, clarinet, flute, guitar, piano), and traditional Eastern instruments (bouzouk, oud, darbouka, bendir, etc).
In 2005, he was awarded the “DEM” gold medal for viola, chamber music and music theory. While in France, he also learnt to play the piano.
Yearning to share his knowledge and experience, and inspire a new generation of Palestinians, by helping their anger and frustrations find musical expression, Aburedwan established Al Kamandjâti (The Violin) in October 2002. It was to be the place where Palestinian children and youth could learn music and develop their culture.
In August 2005, Riwaq, the Palestinian architectural organisation engaged in conservation and rehabilitation, completed the renovation of the Al Kamandjâti Music Centre in the old city of Ramallah and it was here that Aburedwan launched his nonprofit musical enterprise, funded mainly by European donors.
Taking music to the people, Al Kamandjâti set up music schools for Palestinian children in various cities, villages and refugee camps. These music schools offer children the opportunity to learn to play music, to discover their cultural heritage as well as other musical cultures, but above all to explore their creative potential.
In addition, Al Kamandjâti produces numerous concerts and several music festivals throughout the year as part of its mission to bring music to all Palestinians.
Aburedwan explains the rationale: “Perhaps the least recognised effect of the violent Israeli occupation on the lives of Palestinian people is the undermining of culture, art and leisure. When a regime wants to weaken a people, it uses psychological, cultural and physical means. It attempts to erase tangible evidence of that people’s unique cultural heritage. Our struggle must be cultural and militant, artistic and political, and economic. But on no account should we forget the primary reason behind the projects and activities led by Al Kamandjâti, which is to educate children, who suffer most from the unjust politico-economic situation.
“We cannot afford to sit back and wait for favourable political decisions which would establish a Palestinian State,” he says. “We must proactively work on galvanising Palestinian cultural life. We must give our children the opportunity to think beyond soldiers and tanks. They must think creatively, not about the destruction of their country, but about rebuilding their way of life and future.”
In the West Bank, Al Kamandjâti today provides music training to around 500 students in places such as the Al Amari, Jalazon, Qalandiah and Qaddura refugee camps, the village of Deir Ghassana, the old cities of Ramallah and Jenin, and in Tulkarem.
Since 2005, Al Kamandjâti, with ten French musicians, has also organised annual music workshops in the Palestinian refugee camps of Lebanon, where, today, they have 60 students at Bourj el Barajneh and Shatilla.
In Palestine, Al Kamandjâti employs 22 musicians who teach violin, viola, cello, guitar, flute, clarinet, oboe, bassoon, trombone, trumpet, saxophone, piano, accordion, oud, nay, Arabic percussion, orchestra, singing, harmony, choir, improvisation and music theory.
“Music is a universal language,” Aburedwan says. “We encourage Palestinians to use this artistic tool to harmonise and enrich their cultural life, promoting international awareness and recognition of the Palestinian nation.
“Through music, Al Kamandjâti seeks to show that education and culture can transcend and overcome the Israeli violence from which Palestinians suffer,” he adds. “Learning music provides children with a form of expression to channel their energy creatively and constructively. Are not today’s children tomorrow’s adults? Classical music is, for the children, a discovery. We introduce each one to an instrument. Moreover, these workshops enable children to gather in a disciplined setting, whether as neighbours or friends or new acquaintances”.
Many young international musicians have been working at Al Kamandjâti, discovering music and a practical approach to mastering various instruments with Palestinian children. Jason Crompton came from New Jersey four years ago to visit his sister in occupied Jerusalem and after learning about Al Kamandjâti, he stayed on to teach piano and conduct the orchestra. He learnt Arabic to communicate with the children and eventually married a fellow teacher from Italy, Madeleine, who teaches the flute and also works with UNRWA schools in the refugee camps around Ramallah. They have a child and now live in Ramallah.
“The feeling of sharing in the musical experience with anyone who wishes to indulge is special and we believe that we belong here,” Crompton says.
Their story lends credence to the oft-held belief that music transcends both borders and barriers. At Al Kamandjâti, it has been an enriching experience for both the Palestinian children and the teachers of many nationalities.
Not only does Al Kamandjâti teach Palestinian children how to play music, it also teaches some of them how to repair, maintain and tune instruments.
Shehadeh, a young man who has been involved in setting up a local lute-making workshop, spent three months in Italy with stringed-instrument makers who had previously been to Palestine, learning to repair and make instruments. Today his workshop adjoins the Al Kamandjâti building in Ramallah.
Al Kamandjâti organises The Music Days Festival in June, in partnership with the French Cultural Centres Network. The festival lasts 12 days and takes place in more than ten Palestinian cities. A Baroque Music Festival follows in December and various churches in the cities of the West Bank and occupied Jerusalem host it.
Al Kamandjâti also engages in exchange programmes abroad with partner organisations. Some students have been given the opportunity to take part in music workshops abroad to improve their technical skills. Khalil, the coordinator, explains, “We had nine students who completed their scholarships in France last year — in violin, percussion, bass, clarinet and guitar, and two of them learnt how to fix string-section instruments.
“We have two blind brothers, Mohammad and Jihad, who today teach percussion and oud at the Helen Keller Centre in [occupied] Jerusalem,” he adds.
Today, Al Kamandjâti stands for Aburedwan’s transformation from a stone-pelter to a viola player and his dream of sharing his knowledge and experience with his people, bringing joy to the children growing up in refugee camps and under occupation.
This article appeared on http://www.albawaba.com/entertainment/palestine-camps-music-479027
GAZA – Traditionally, the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, His Beatitude Fouad Twal, visits the parish of the Holy Family in Gaza before Christmas. He did this year on the third Sunday of Advent and celebrated Christmas Mass for the faithful in Gaza. The communications team of the Latin Patriarchate was in Gaza three days early and met with the parishioners in anticipation of this visit.
This year, Christmas has a special dimension for Catholics of the Holy Family Parish in Gaza. In the three weeks since the end of the Israeli operation “Column of Defense,” the parish has seen the ceasefire as “a miracle.” Patriarch Fouad Twal who went for the first time to Gaza since the ceasefire, explained in his Sunday homily that “Christmas is a gift from Heaven, but the good will of men so that there may be peace is also needed.” He also invited Christians “to live a strong faith” in order to continue living in this Holy Land where the Holy Family passed during the flight to Egypt and to remember that “even Jesus suffered injustice.” According to the parish priest, Father Jorge Hernandez, IVE: “the parishioners are very appreciative of this visit and it is also a little of Jerusalem that came here to them, and this touches them very much in their faith life.” To thank all those who supported them with their prayers and their gifts during the war, the parish celebrated an official Mass of Thanksgiving. The pastor said “that they all know we have prayed for them.”
After yesterday’s Mass, the Patriarch, together with Bishop Marcuzzo, Vicar inIsrael, as customary, met with the families for the exchange of Christmas greetings. The General Administrator of the Patriarchate, Fr. Humam Khzouz, who coordinated the entrance of the delegation to the Gaza Strip and the Chancellor, Fr. George Ayoub, were also part of the Patriarchal delegation.
The small Catholic parish of the Holy Family has exactly 185 faithful. Among the 1.6 million Gaza inhabitants, a crowded area of 360 sq. kilometers, there are 1,550 Christians (Greek Orthodox for the most part) now only half of the 3,000 in 2008.
Christmas, however, will be celebrated after the bombs. So life goes on in Gaza. Eight days of mass destruction left traces on houses, public buildings and schools. Along the roads are found several ruins as those of the football stadium where the stands collapsed after the stadium was struck by bombs. In the midst of the rubble, violence still resonates and on their faces “exhaustion is seen by the dark circles around the eyes” as Bishop Marcuzzo noted yesterday.
By this, we must recognize, the people of Gaza cling to life. The smiles of the children attest to it in front of our photo cameras, the happy mothers and the daring of their sons, the open shops, the noisy traffic. In fact, Gaza vibrates with life. Men, women, children confronted with violence, scarcity, the conservatism that strongly rules daily life, they suffer from a high unemployment rate (60% of the population) and from the weight of the days without some distraction. But the inhabitants here also live the joyful feasts and marriages. In the Catholic parish, for example, there are on average 1- 2 marriages and 3 – 4 baptisms a year.
Immediately after the ceasefire, the three Catholic schools of the Gaza Strip, which accommodate 1500 students of which the overwhelming majority are Muslims, organized the resumption of classes. The two Catholic schools of the Holy Family reopened their doors. The School of the Rosary Sisters instead had to wait until the following Monday in order to repair broken windows because of the explosions. “The winter cold was arriving and they needed to act quickly” says Sister Davida, Principal of the School. In this school where four Rosary Sisters serve, the principal tells of the resuming of classes: “many children made great effort to concentrate after thirty minutes of class. Some psychologists from Caritas came to help them restart by playing and singing. Restoring to a child the sense of security is a long process.”
The relentless drama continues in the interior of each person. Father Jorge Hernandez noted, together with the School Principal, different problems in children of school age. “When the bell announces the end of classes, when an airplane flies above their heads, some students are afraid” they explain. “Other children stay in small groups near the walls. They always have the behavior of war. They are afraid of the silence, of the grand silence.” The Pastor then says “In Gaza now, when a child begins school, he has already seen two wars. And he is not yet 4 or 5 years old.”
To these children born in war and who live in war, the parish proposes a pastoral life of prayer and playful activity to help them grow “normally” in this little strip of overpopulated land that suffers the embargo by its neighbors. More than ever the religious communities that live in Gaza strain themselves to do everything to help the faithful of the parish, but also the Orthodox and the Muslims so that they catch again their breath after the recent events. The parish is supported by three sisters of the Incarnate Word Institute, to which the pastor also belongs as well as the new parochial vicar, Father Mario, who arrived just three weeks ago.
At their side work the Rosary Sisters and the Missionary Sisters of Charity of Mother Teresa, who are dedicated to disable children. Through “the festive oratorio”, children, parents and families can lead an almost normal life. There are some beautiful moments, the people come to develop themselves, to pray, to see each other and to play. So as in the streets of Gaza, also in the parish life resumes its rights, forgetting the daily problems of security, the health services but also the constant problems with electricity.
The parish is an island of life, where calm seems reestablished again, away from the images of a Gaza “ghost city”. Of course, they have rediscovered their life, but with an embargo. As the Patriarch has said on several occasions “the people of Gaza do not have a normal life. They live in an open-air prison.” On Saturday afternoon, before the arrival of the Patriarch, in the parish courtyard some youth were playing ball, the scout band had its rehearsals, the crib was ready, the Christmas tree decorated, the divan straightened up and the Sunday lunch prepared. It is here that the Patriarch greeted the parishioners the following day, extending to them personally his Christmas wishes.
A mother of a family who welcomed us for Friday evening dinner said: “We will resume our daily life. It was really a very hard period, it was not easy, but with the children we are ready to celebrate Christmas. We need it to live well.” The Christmas tree, the crib, the imminent birth of a fifth child shows that there is life here. Right here! And in our parish we are preparing for Christmas with forgetting the sick and elderly persons. In the ten days that precede the Christmas feast, the pastor visits 4 elderly or sick (that is, 40 persons in all) each evening in the company of a small delegation of youth and the Sisters of the Incarnate Word. We shared in four of these meetings. The visitors, about fifteen, this evening, in the blue night of the Holy Land joined together in prayers and songs, distributing holy water and small gifts. Sometimes the priest administers the anointing of the sick. Father Jorge explains: “For three years, since I am here, I saw that this little round of visits interests many. In the beginning we started with five, now the movement has expanded. All the youth today want to participate. We are obliged to organize turns. During the year, we also distribute communion to the sick. At times it also happens that 2-3 scouts come along to offer their service.
On Tuesday, December 18, the Latin Church in Gaza expects 450 persons for the traditional “Christmas Concert” organized every years at this time of years in the context of the Baroque Music Festival, supported by the service of Cultural Cooperation of the French General Consulate in Jerusalem. On the evening of December 24, maybe some parishioners will have obtained permission from the Israeli authorities to go for Christmas Eve in Bethlehem. But all cannot have it. Those who remain in Gaza will welcome near the living crib His Excellency, Bishop Shomali, Auxiliary Bishop for Jerusalem who will spend Christmas Night in the company of the Parish faithful. And not only that… as many non-Catholics will come to rejoice at the coming on earth of the Prince of Peace and to pray with the pastor who has a message of Christmas: “that the Savior may give His peace to the people of Gaza and especially to the leaders of the region. That He may also give us the strength to continue advancing.”
By: Haidar Eid
Published Wednesday, December 12, 2012
The long walk to South Africa’s freedom is marked by two immensely tragic events: the Sharpeville massacre in 1960 and the Soweto Uprising in 1976, both of which led to the galvanizing of internal and international resistance against the apartheid regime. Ultimately, these events would lead to the long-called for release of Nelson Mandela and to the end of one of the most inhumane systems the world has ever seen.
Without Sharpeville and Soweto, among other landmarks towards victory over settler colonialism, South Africa would still be ruled by a minority of fanatic, white settlers claiming to fulfill the word of (their) God.
Palestine’s long walk to freedom has gone through similar harrowing events, beginning with the 1948 Nakba to the latest eight-day onslaught on Gaza.
In order to understand Gaza in 2012, one ought to trace its origin back to 1948. Two thirds of the Palestinians of Gaza are refugees who were kicked out of their cities, towns, and villages in 1948. In After the Last Sky, the late Palestinian thinker Edward Said argues that every Palestinian knows perfectly well that what has happened to us over the last six decades is “a direct consequence of Israel’s destruction of our society in 1948…”
The problem, he argues, is that a clear, direct line from our misfortunes in 1948 to our misfortunes in the present cannot be drawn, thanks to “the complexity of our experience.”
At 139 square miles, Gaza is the largest refugee camp on earth, a reminder of the ongoing Nakba. The inhabitants of Gaza have become the most unwanted Palestinians, the black heart that no one wants to see, the “Negroes” of the American south, the black natives of South Africa, the surplus population that the powerful, macho, white Ashkenazi cannot coexist with.
In 2008-9, Gaza was bombed by Apache helicopters and F-16 jets for 22 days, killing more than 1400 civilians. As if that was not enough, Israel decided to return to Gaza in 2012 and repeat the same crimes in eight days, this time killing more than 175 civilians and injuring 1399. These are massive losses for a population of just over 1.5 million people.
Israel’s airstrikes, which damage essential infrastructure and terrify the civilian population, are a form of collective punishment against the Palestinian people. Even more, they are war crimes forbidden under international humanitarian law, specifically the Geneva Conventions.
Yet Israel consistently gets away with war crimes. The official, government-based “international community” does not seem interested in the suffering of the native Palestinians. The much-admired, “better than Bush” American president, Obama, thinks that “Israel has the right to defend itself.” The same right does not apparently apply to Palestinians.
Likewise, the British Foreign Secretary William Hague believes that Hamas is “principally responsible” for the current crisis, as well as the ability to bring it most swiftly to an end. This is in spite of the deadly siege imposed on Gaza for more than five years, so much so that Israel even used calorie counting to limit the amount of food that entered Gaza during the blockade.
The fact that Palestinians in Gaza are not born to Jewish mothers is enough reason to deprive them of their right to live equally with the citizens of the state of Israel. Hence, like the black natives of South Africa, they should be isolated in a Bantustan, in accordance with the Oslo terms. If they show any resistance to this plan, they must be punished by turning the entire Strip into an open-air prison.
Both the US and the UK display deliberate and unconscionable ignorance in the face of the brutal reality caused by Israel to Gaza. As a result of Israel’s blockade on most imports and exports and other policies designed to punish Palestinians, about 70 percent of Gaza’s workforce is now unemployed or without pay, according to the UN, and about 80 percent of its residents live in grinding poverty.
But don’t Obama and Hague know this?!
As Hamid Dabashi put it:
Obama is fond of saying Israelis are entitled to defend themselves. But are they entitled to steal even more of Palestine, terrorise its inhabitants and continue to consolidate a racist apartheid state…? Was South Africa also entitled to be a racist apartheid state, was the American south entitled to slavery, India to Hindu fundamentalism?
The only option for Palestinians is to follow the same route as the South African struggle. The South African internal campaign aimed to mobilize the masses on the ground rather than indifferent governments around the world. What hope could they have gotten from the likes of Margaret Thatcher, Ronald Reagan, and Helmut Kohl? It was left to ordinary South Africans and global citizens to show their moral rejection of crimes committed by the ugly apartheid system.
In South Africa’s long walk to freedom, there was no compromise on respect for basic human rights. Apartheid’s attempts to point fingers at “black violence” and “intrinsic hatred” toward Western civilization and democracy, did not hold water.
Similarly, international civil society, and some governments, have seen through Israel’s propaganda campaign where the aggressor is turned into the victim. Across the years, Palestinians have been completely dehumanized. Instead of Reagan and Thatcher, we have Obama and Hague, blaming the victim and condemning resistance to occupation, colonization, and apartheid.
But South Africans did not wait for the American administration to “change its mind.” The global BDS campaign, steered by South African anti-apartheid activists, coupled with internal mass mobilization on the ground, was the prescription for liberation, away from the façade of “independence” based on ethnic identities. Similarly, the Palestinian call for boycott, divestment, and sanctions has been gathering momentum since 2005. Gaza 2012, like Soweto 1976, cannot be ignored: it demands a response from all who believe in a common humanity.
Gaza 2012 has, undeniably, given a huge impetus to this process by making all Palestinians inside and outside of historic Palestine realize that “Yes, We Can!” We are no longer the weaker party, the passive victim who does not dare bang on the walls of Ghassan Kanafani’s trunk in Men in the Sun, but rather Hamid in All That is Left To You, the Palestinian hero who decides to act.
Haidar Eid is Associate Professor of Postcolonial and Postmodern Literature at Gaza’s al-Aqsa University and a policy advisor withAl-Shabaka, the Palestinian Policy Network.
Original article appeared here https://talesofacitybytheseadotcom.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post-new.php
Published on Nov 27, 2012 by TheRealNews
Published on Nov 15, 2012 by Euronews
http://www.euronews.com/ Qalandiya, the first ever Palestinian Contemporary Art Biennale has been held in Ramallah. One of the most popular displays was a pop art-inspired needlework portrait is of Mohamed Bouazizi, the market stall holder who sparked the beginning of the Arab Spring when he burned himself to death in protest at being rough-handled by the police.
The biennial took its name from one of the most famous symbols of Palestinian separation, the Israeli checkpoint at Qalandiya, which is one of the main crossing points between the West Bank and Israel.
Displaying art installations in hard-to-access Palestinian villages scattered across the West Bank was a gamble, but it worked. People flocked to the Abwein village for a day packed with art and fun.
Using villages as art galleries, and borrowing its name from a crowded refugee camp and Israeli military checkpoint, Qalandiya International was a chance for Palestinian artists of the West Bank, Jerusalem, Israel and Gaza to get together and overcome their politically fragmented world.
Jerusalem artist, Jumana Manna’s short movie was inspired by a 1942 picture of a high society masquerade hosted by Palestinian politician Alfred Roch, a reenactment that has won Manna the festival’s “Young Artist of the Year” award.
For more information see
In January 2009 when Israel bombarded Gaza for three weeks, they called their assault ‘Operation Cast Lead’, Amnesty International had a better way to describe it; they called it ’22 Days of Death and Destruction’. Today, we are reliving that nightmare once again, and once again I find myself searching for words…
Searching for words
Gaza…I search desperately
For words… for definitions
To tell the story of ammunitions
Exploding in a child’s body
I try to shout my indignation
But I am lost in vocabulary
Drowned in phrases as old as me
And I am as old as the Occupation
I need new words
How hard it is to find
Definitions that can restore
Humanity to a small strip of land
Along the Mediterranean shore
Siege, starvation collective misery
Familiar words in my head they linger
Bombs fall from the sky every day
Powerless words I can’t use any longer
I need new words
“Palestine is occupied….”
These are now hollow words…
“Palestinians are oppressed…”
These are now daily words…
“Palestinians are dispossessed”
These are now…tired words
“Palestinians….have a right to exist”
Words often spoken…worn out words
I need new words
Gaza…my home city
My earliest memory of Jasmine flowers and meramiah tea
My first taste of sour lemon dipped in salt
My first climb on an almond tree
Gaza, my destiny
My father’s heart sky and sea
My mother’s first love
My sister’s first breath
My pride and dignity
Gaza is under fire
Obliterated by hate
Strangled by a demonic desire
To erase my history
Gaza is in pieces
And I…the writer…
What language can possibly save me?
Samah Sabawi January 2009
Details Published on Monday, 05 November 2012 08:46
Thirsting for Justice Campaign said in a press release that during November 2012, the Ride for Water Justice! is taking place in communities impacted by Israel’s illegal appropriations of Palestinian water resources.
The Ride includes guided walks, Playback Theatre performances, and community discussions about water apartheid and the broader struggle for freedom and justice in occupied Palestine. Audience members share autobiographical accounts and watch as a team of actors and musicians instantly transform these accounts into improvised theatre pieces. Playback Theatre provides opportunity for education, advocacy and community building.
The Ride started on Friday, November 2, in the village of Faquaa (in the Jenin district), one of many Palestinian communities impacted by Israel’s illegal appropriations of Palestinian water resources.
In the next Fridays, Palestinian and international activists, students, journalists, artists and the wider public are invited to join any or all of the Ride for Water Justice events:
November 9th: Attuwani, South Hebron Hills
November 16th: Al Hadidiya, Jordan Valley
November 23rd: Gaza via Video Conference
This four time event is organized by the Freedom Bus and EWASH’s West Bank local partner Juzoor.
The Freedom Bus is an initiative of The Freedom Theatre that uses interactive theatre and cultural activism to bear witness, raise awareness and build alliances throughout occupied Palestine and beyond.
Juzoor for Health and Social Development is a Palestinian non-governmental organization based in Jerusalem working at the national level, dedicated to improving the health and well-being of Palestinian families and promoting health as a basic human right.
The Emergency Water, Sanitation and Hygiene group (EWASH) is a coalition of almost 30 organisations working in the water and sanitation sector in the occupied Palestinian territory.
The Freedom Theatre: http://www.thefreedomtheatre.org/
Thirsting for Justice Campaign: http://www.thirstingforjustice.org/new
For further information about the event, visit
Sunday, 04 November 2012
Palestinian artists showcased their art work at West Bank’s Qalandia International Festival on Thursday framed as part of a creative reaction to the Israeli barrier that separates Palestinian villages from each other.
Israel has said the barrier, a mix of electronic fences and walls that encroaches on West Bank territory, is meant to keep suicide bombers out of its cities.
Palestinians call the barrier — whose course encompasses Israeli settlements in the West Bank — a disguised move to annex or fragment territory Palestinians seek for a viable state.
The International court of Justice declared the planned 600-km (370-mile) barrier, more than half of which is completed, illegal but Israel has ignored the non-binding ruling.
Qalandia International Festival Art Director, Jack Persekian, said it was an important way for Palestinians to channel their emotional reactions to the barrier.
“The wall and the road that was constructed recently connect the Israeli settlements together and separate the Palestinian villages from each other. The reaction to this separation was a cultural festival. It is an important and a good reaction — it shows a positive, artistic and cultural spirit in a painful situation that should be stopped,” he said.
The festival, which showcases Palestinian contemporary art projects, performances, films, and other cultural activities, kicked off on Thursday at Qalandia village northern of Jerusalem and ends on November 15.
According to the festival’s organizers, over 50 local and International artists came together for the launch of Qalandia International, ‘a milestone contemporary art event’.
Palestinian artist Khaled Jarar screened his 2 minutes film at the festival. His film, too, addresses barrier issues and Palestinians’ reactions to it.
“I went to the wall and I cut out some pieces of it. I smashed them then I mixed them with cement and water and I made a ball which children play with. My message is that the wall is an ugly thing, so we should seek out ways in which to use it and the occupation for our benefit,” he told Reuters television.
The festival was organized by seven Palestinian institutions- Riwaq, Al Ma’mal Foundation for Contemporary Art, A. M. Qattan Foundation, Palestinian Art Court – Al Hoash, International Art Academy – Palestine, Sakakini Cultural Centre and the House of Culture Arts – Nazareth.
Palestinian band ‘Dar Qandeel’ performed traditional and modern music at the festival’s opening ceremony and people from various Palestinian villages and cities as well as Internationals came to attend.
Yara Bayoumi, a visitor at the festival, said the cooperation involved in hosting such a festival was wonderful.
“The festival is very nice. It is the first of its kind in Palestine. It is the first time seven organizations have worked together to organize such a festival. I hope it will have a good effect, and put Palestine in the world’s contemporary art,” she said.
The festival is expected to tour Jerusalem and other West Bank cities.
This article appeared in http://english.alarabiya.net/articles/2012/11/04/247588.html
CHICO — “‘Keeping Hope Alive — Life and Culture in Occupied Palestine'” is a series of events including film, dance, poetry, folk art, traditional Palestinian food and more,” explained Emily Alma, a representative from Chico State University’s Cross-Cultural Leadership Center, in an interview last week.The presentational series, which begins Monday and runs through Thursday, Oct. 18, 2012, is a multi-media exploration of Palestinian culture. The series is free of charge and will primarily be held at the CCLC in Ayers Hall.”The presentations integrate information about Palestinian culture with life in the West Bank and Gaza under Israeli occupation,” said Alma. Read more Art exhibit examines Israel-Palestinian conflict through children’s eyes
The Freedom Bus, an initiative of Jenin’s Freedom Theatre, used interactive theatre and cultural activism to bear witness, raise awareness and build alliances throughout occupied Palestine and beyond. From September 23-October 1 2012, Palestinians and allies from around the world took part in a 9-day solidarity ride through 11 communities in the West Bank of occupied Palestine. Read more
A play that explores the lives of ordinary people living in the besieged Gaza strip in the winter of 2008. Jomana, a woman from the Shati refugee camp, falls in love with Rami, an American Palestinian doctor who arrives as part of the Free Gaza Flotilla. Breaking the siege sparks their love – but can it be sustained?
To book online go to http://www.trybooking.com/BZDI
Tales of a City by the Sea is a unique and poetic journey into the lives of ordinary people in the besieged Gaza strip prior to, during and after its bombardment in the winter of 2008.
Jomana, a Palestinian woman who lives in the Shati (beach) refugee camp in Gaza falls in love with Rami, an American born Palestinian doctor and activist who comes on the first Free Gaza boats in 2008. Their love is met with many challenges forcing Rami to make incredible decisions the least of which is to take a dangerous journey through the underground tunnels that connect Gaza to Egypt.
Although on the surface this love story appears to explore the relationship between diaspora Palestinians and Palestinians under occupation, there is a broader and more universal theme that emerges – one of human survival and tenacity.
Tales of a City by the Sea avoids political pitfalls, ideological agendas and clichés by focusing on the human story of the people in Gaza. Although the play’s characters are fictional, the script is based on real life events and is a product of a collection of real stories the author Samah Sabawi and her family have experienced during the events of the past several years. Sabawi has written most of the poetry in the play during the three-week bombardment of Gaza in 2008/2009.
Creative Producer: Rand Hazou
Rand Hazou was born in Jordan. His family are from Jerusalem. Rand is an Australian/Palestinian academic and theatre facilitator. In 2004 Rand was commissioned by the UNDP to travel to the Occupied Territories in Palestine to work as a theatre consultant running workshops for Palestinian youths. In 2009 Rand was awarded a PhD in Theatre and Drama at La Trobe University. His thesis examined the latest wave of political theatre in Australia dealing with Asylum Seekers and Refugees. In 2011 Rand was awarded a Cultural Leadership Skills Development Grant from the Australia Council for the Arts to develop The 7arakat|Harakat Project, involving a series of theatre-related initiatives between Australia and Palestine. As part of this grant, Rand travelled to Palestine in October 2011 to participate in an internship with Al-Kasaba Theatre in Ramallah. Rand is currently undertaking an internship with Multicultural Arts Victoria. As an academic he has taught across a wide variety of subject at La Trobe and Monash Universities. He is currently a lecturer and tutor in the theatre and drama program at La Trobe University. For more information on the 7arakat project visit http://www.centreforcreativearts.org.au/projectspace/7arakat.phps
Osamah Sami is an actor and writer of Iraqi heritage. Born in 1983 in Iran – he migrated to Australia in 1995. Osamah has worked extensively on stage, including playing the role of Saddam Hussain in “Saddam: The Musical”, as well as other productions, including Sinners (La Mamma), Homebody/Kabul (Theatre@Risk), Long Day’s Dying (La Mamma), Baghdad Wedding (Belvoir St.), Blackbox 149 (La Mamma)…His TV roles include East West 101 (SBS), City Homicide (Seven), Rush (Ten), Sea Patrol (Nine), series regular in the 13-part series Kick (SBS), the lead role in Tony Ayres’ award winning tele-movie Saved opposite Claudia Karvan, the lead in Dee McLachlan’s feature film “10 Terrorists” and the award winning short 296 Smith Street as well as the feature film Lucky Miles. He is currently working on a feature film with director Tony Ayres “Ali’s Wedding” which he has co-written with Andrew Knight.
Since graduating from Flinders University Drama Centre, Veronica has had a very diverse and dynamic acting career in Theatre, Film, Television and Role Playing/Training across many arenas from mainstream theatre and television to educational and political theatre, script development and corporate work. Her credits include: The Grace of Mary Traverse, Six Characters in Search of An Author, Stories from the Underground; A Translation in History, Twelfth Night, The Jungle of Cities, 10 x10 play series, Meat Pies and Mortadella, Nile Blue, GP, Water Rats, Heart Break High, Murder Call, Blue Heelers, Satisfaction, Whatever Happened To That Guy and Neighbours.
Hannah Norris is a widely acclaimed actress of the independent and professional stages of Australia. She is perhaps best known for her powerful performance of the one-woman show My Name is Rachel Corrie (Daniel Clarke) in Melbourne and Adelaide, receiving Adelaide Critics Circle and Victorian Green Room Award nominations, and the 2010 ATG ‘Curtain Call’ Award for Best Female Performance. Hannah has recently returned to Melbourne from a national tour of David Williamson’s Let the Sunshine (Hit Productions) and is currently working on a 2013 production of Tahli Corin’s One for the Ugly Girls. For more info, go to www.hannahnorris.com.au
Wahibe Moussa is a performance-maker, writer and Green-Room award winning actor, currently studying in the Master of Writing for Performance at the Victorian College of the Arts. She has gained respect as a Cultural/Language Consultant through Theatre and television projects. Wahibe’s writing practice is informed by her work with diverse Refugee and Indigenous communities, and her interest in connections between the personal and political; the exchange of power within relationships. As a Community Artist, Wahibe works collaboratively in Theatre, Visual Art and Writing Projects in Melbourne and Sydney.
Jomana Najem has a background in Film Production and literary journalism, and has been extensively involved with the Arabic speaking community for the last ten years in various capacities. Jomana has also written, directed and produced several short films and documentaries. She has worked both behind and in front of the camera as an actor and television presenter. She has is the writer of a feature length film script that centres around the lives of several Lebanese Australians, and their struggles to overcome their past. “The Borrowed Prophet” is currently in pre-production and has been endorsed by the Lebanese and wider Arabic speaking community.
Majid Shokor is a writer, researcher, and actor for stage and screen. Originally from Baghdad, he lives and works in Melbourne. Since his arrival in Australia in 2001, he has appeared in many plays, short films, TV series and the feature film Lucky Miles, for which he was also the cultural consultant. He worked with many acclaimed directors and writers such as Jean-Pierre Mignon, Daniel Keen and Nigel Jamieson to name few. His performances have received critical acclaim and been honoured with two prestigious Green Room Award nominations for Best Actor in Independent Theatre, in 2005 and 2009. Majid holds a Master degree (Honours) and a Post-Graduate Diploma (1st class Honours) in Community Cultural Development from the Victorian College of the Arts – Melbourne University
Ryan is a second year student and is currently studying arts at La Trobe University. He has been involved in many highly successful productions in their student theatre program. He has also been highly involved in amateur theatre companies in his home town. He has a large background in musical theatre. This is Ryan’s first production outside of his university and local area.
Beth Sherwell – lighting and sound
Beth is no stranger to the world of theatre, television and drama; having worked on the TV show Neighbours as well as various other films. Most recently she played the character of Amy March (the youngest sister) in the production ‘Little Women’. ‘Tales of a City by the Sea’ is Beth’s first technical gig, she is currently completing a degree in English and Drama Majors.
James Crafti – lighting and sound
James Crafti is co-manager of Under the Hammer an Activist Artists Hub in Coburg a place he founded to explore art within a social justice framework. Crafti completed a Bachelor of Creative Arts at La Trobe in 2009 and directed plays at La Trobe including Creationism, Rope and Seven Jewish Children. In 2010 James worked as an assistant director on Melbourne Worker’s Theatre’s show Yet to Ascertain the Nature of the Crime. Crafti also directed two plays with Platform Youth Theatre Mutha and The Deserters, and is now serving on Platform’s Board. He is currently undertaking his Masters in Community Cultural Development at the Victorian College of the Arts.