We bought a mini-Ark !

Mini-Ark-188x300The mini-Ark is a beautiful idea, apparently originating with Mahfouz, a lovely man living in Gaza, who we had the privilege to meet when we visited Gaza a year ago. He had invited us into his house and introduced us to his family. (David Heap knows him through Gaza Ark. I mention our visit to his place in a post on November 13, 2012.)

A mini-Ark is a 40-cm long wooden model boat that represents the Gaza’s Ark (to read up on this project, see here). On November 30th children from Gaza will be able to take these little boats and send them off into the sea. Children are the ones worst affected by living under the shadow of the occupation and the blockade. By launching the mini-Arks into the ocean, they will get a chance to do a symbolic act to signal their existence to the outside world and thus to participate actively in a gesture of resistance and hope.

Check out this link, and please consider sponsoring, or co-sponsoring, one of them!

 

Fundraising for the Gaza Music School – please be generous!

The Gaza Music School (GMS) needs your help. Please give generously.  (Text below taken from the fundraising website). The GMS is now part of the Edward Said National Conservatory of Music. Please donate here.

120228-gaza-music-school

The GMS was launched with the fundamental goal to develop music education, promote music appreciation, to introduce music as a tool for creative free expression and to the improvement of the creative potential of children in Gaza though music. The GMS has since been a place where musically talented children (aged 7-16) are incubated, where they learn the joy of music, and share it with their community. The School has also opened opportunities for children’s talents and skills to grow and be exposed to a variety of cultures through the international language of music.

The school opens opportunities for musically talented children, ages 7-16, to learn the joy of music, and share it with their community.  About 185 students are currently enrolled in the school’s regular program, which offers lessons for seven instruments: oud, violin, piano, guitar, qanun, trumpet, and cello.

The Gaza Music School contributes to filling in the huge gap of music teaching in schools    and among children and youth in Gaza where arts courses in general and music in particular have been constantly negligencted in Palestinian schools  generally. Arts centres in Gaza  are either inexistnet or lack the specialized cadre, let alone discouragement from the schools or families for their children to get enrolled in such creative fields.This project is a challenge to the imposed closures and state of isolation as well as a challenge to social hindrances since it involves equally male and female students.

In Gaza Strip , closures, isolation and fragmentation imposed by Israel, are negatively affecting all forms of Palestinians’ daily life. This project contributes to activating cultural life, enabling the ESNCM to expand its academic and non-academic programs in order to reach a wider range of the society to learn and enjoy music, promoting music and musicians, and enhancing internal and international exchange. Such activities have a great influence to elevate people’s hope, resilience, perseverance and steadfastness amid all daily encounters of despair and frustration.

The A.M. Qattan Foundation Launched the Gaza Music School (GMS) project in July 2008, in response to growing demand for music education in the Gaza Strip.  GMS started as a three-year pilot project with co-funding partnership from the Swedish International Development Agency.  It offers the first-ever structured and long-term music education programme in Gaza.  While the ESNCM gave it’s technical and academic support helping the school management to establish its curricular and academic set up.

In January 2009, GMS was destroyed during the Israeli war on Gaza.  In recognition of the vitality of the GMS to the social, psychological, and artistic development of children – and against tremendous odds – the A.  M.  Qattan Foundation re-opened the School three months later in a new expanded space, and adding to the team to accommodate the growing number of students.  Support of the reopening effort came from individuals and institutions locally and from Sweden, Norway, the UK, Germany, France and the USA.

Following an agreement between the Edward Said National Conservatory of Music and the Qattan Foundation, the GazaMusicSchool was handed to the ESNCM on April 1st 2012, therefore becoming the Conservatory’s fifth branch in Palestine. The ESNCM is now responsible for the school’s financial, academic and administrative issues.

WATCH the Audio Slideshow on GazaMusicSchool here on the BBC website.

Here is an article about the GMS in the British Independent.

Unbalanced circles : a response to Joy Harjo

Joy Harjo is a native American poet and musician. She is currently visiting Israel, where she was invited by Tel Aviv University. She accepted the invitation, despite many appeals to her to cancel the performance.

I googled her name and just came upon her latest entry on her blog, which reads as follows: Down.  I will be taking Facebook down tonight for awhile. Thanks to my supporters. Thanks to those who disagreed with my stance but were willing to dialogue with civility. We live in a circle. A circle has no sides. Maybe the circle of life on this earth has been broken. Maybe not–Either way, I do not condone killing of anyone. Never have…

In me it created the following response.  I have submitted it to her comment section, and perhaps she will ‘approve’ it. In the meantime I will also post it here.

To Joy:

“We live in a circle. A circle has no sides.”

How nice this sounds.

But there are different kinds of circles. And some circles need to be broken. Have you not considered that?

The Palestinian people are caught in a circle that needs to be broken. A circle of perpetuate injustice, of collective punishments, of continued deprivation of their rights. And ultimately, in a circle of violence. Children are born into this circle, grow up in it, and many die within it. But you know this, Joy!

The boycott-divestment-sanctions movement seeks to break this destructive circle by non-violent means.

Together we have the power to help restore harmony in that part of the world that you are visiting right now. Your visit to only one “side”  (there are sides!) tilts the weight to the side that already has all the power, all the military might. And even claims to have all the moral weight. While it kills children with its bombs.

I hope in the future you will join those who seek to shift the weight to restore a circle where all can live with dignity. A circle that is inclusive of Palestinians, and everyone, regardless of religion and ethnicity.

It takes courage to make circles change.

circle2

o

 

 

 

 

 

(Source of circles.)

From under the bombs

Below is a powerful piece written by our dear friend Ayah Abubashir, who lived through the week-long terror Israel brought on her, her family, Gaza. With Obama’s backing, with Canada’s backing, with the EU’s backing. She lost two family members. The article was published on Electronic Intifada

She reminds us that after Gaza 2012, the BDS campaign needs to grow and become stronger. The world needs to show growing solidarity with Palestinians. We need to press our leaders into calling on Israel to start respecting Human Rights.

***

From under the bombs: our catastrophe and our hope in Gaza

by Ayah Abubashir

Since the beginning of Israel’s “Operation Pillar of Defence,” the number of Palestinians killed or injured has risen dramatically. How harsh, I feel, to use the word “number” since we are not actually mere numbers, but very tragic, heartbreaking and harrowing stories.

My aunt lives in al-Bureij refugee camp in the center of the Gaza Strip, not far away from where I live in Deir al-Balah. Her house was bombed many times during Israel’s 2008-09 attacks on Gaza and is still a very possible target for the Israeli air strikes.

The actual target is her brother-in-law who now has taken Ahmad Jabari’s place as a new commander in Hamas’s military wing. For the sake of their target, Israeli F-16s couldn’t care less when they kill children, women or the elderly or to destroy a five-story building even if they know that “the wanted man” doesn’t stay with his wife and children in this home.

We heard a very loud explosion in al-Bureij and swiftly we called my aunt who was barely able to speak to check on her safety. The blast was in her neighbour’s house and the victim this time is a one-year-old baby Eyad Abu Khusa. Though she has refused to leave her house since the start of this ongoing assault, she, along with her two sons, came today to stay with us after the repeated bombardment of al-Bureij.

No shelter is safe

Another aunt left her house in Rafah and brought her two daughters saying “she doesn’t wish to die away from her parents and brothers.” Both aunts, along with us, thought that our area might be a “safer one.” But what is a “safer place” when everyone is a possible target? When the whole strip is a bare land to the Israeli reconnaissance aircrafts?

Ironically, my aunts were welcomed by the most piercing blast we ever heard and we all witnessed the black smoke very close to us, the same moment we were speaking about the “safer place”. We knew later that it was the warplane Hamas declared it had downed. No shelter in Gaza is safe. I realize it is our instinctive human nature that we tend to grab a hold of our loved ones, keep them near and hold them tight such times. This, as it happens, is what might give us a sense of safety — we think.

Since the morning, the killing of Tamer al-Hemry, a Palestinian Islamic Jihad member, a vast rage and anger at Israel has been stoked in Deir al-Balah. Though Tamer, 25-years-old, was involved in armed resistance, he was not involved in militant tasks or firing rockets when he was assassinated.

The Israeli jet located him by calling him on his cell-phone, which he answered, and hit him before he could escape death. Al-Hemry was a neighbor and relative and his funeral was held right in front of my front door.

Whenever someone has been martyred, we can hear everywhere unfaltering calls from mosques emboldening people and encouraging them to keep their patience, steadfastness and resistance high. That dreary day, since the first hours of the day, a very close mosque has been asking people to come and pray over the martyr. Hundreds of townsmen did so, accompanied by photographers and buses bringing people from other places.

Radio-frequency amplifiers were transmitting religious and revolutionary songs all over the street. Though the number of mourners was really prodigious, people were conscious that Israel might, at any moment, bomb the funeral, as it in point of fact did on the first day of the offensive.

People have learned not to trust the occupier’s forces. There has been a general sentiment not to gather in large numbers. For Israel has repeated its vicious tactic of bombing a place, waiting five minutes, as people will gather to help and carry the victims — then it will hit the same place again to score more deaths. What a continuous process Israel is applying to dehumanize the people of Gaza.

Election bill

We have been asking ourselves why we always have to pay the bill of the Israeli elections. Honestly, we didn’t expect that this latest onslaught would keep escalating. Our catastrophe is shown to the world allowing it to happen again.

As I am writing these lines, the house is shaking from a huge explosion nearby. Looking from the window, darkness is all over the place as there is a blackout. I am using the UPS backup power supply, which not all people here have and even this device doesn’t last for long.

Now the UPS battery died and I have no net connection so I have to wait till I have electricity to resume writing this. The streets are completely deserted. Over the previous days, we have been forcefully listening to either explosions or ambulance sirens from the land or the relentless piercing sound of the drones, which are filling — literally filling — the sky of Gaza. Most of the time both sounds go together.

Tonight there is very heavy artillery shelling with the sound of drones rising higher. Have you ever imagined living with this noise day and night? It doesn’t stop. The whole situation is heartbreaking as Israel pounds the Gaza Strip from air and sea.

A deep tragic sense of déjà vu is conveyed by the events unfolding in Gaza and the Israeli escalation of violence directed at the defenseless population of Gaza. Our memory recalls the moment on 4 January 2009 when Israeli soldiers invaded the Zaytoun area south of Gaza City.

Another outrageous massacre

Twenty-one family members were killed and 19 injured in the shelling of just one house belonging to the Samouni family. Nine of the dead were children and the youngest was a baby of just six months. This evening, an Israel F-16 jet bombed the home of al-Dalou family and committed another outrageous massacre, wiping out a whole family. Twelve members of the same family were killed, including five children and three women, marking this Sunday as the deadliest day of the current attacks on the Gaza Strip.

People in Gaza usually listen to local radio and TV stations especially in these circumstances. From the beginning of the attacks, Israel has hacked many local radio stations, along with the leaflets Israeli forces drop over Gaza, to transmit and circulate trepidation among the people.

Lately even media centers have been targeted as Israeli aircraft fired missiles at al-Shawa Hosary residential building, where most media broadcasting channels were located, and destroyed the local Hamas station al-Aqsa TV, as part of its psychological warfare. Since the inception of this war, we have been receiving calls from Israel to help in giving information about the resistance “terrorists.” In the last two days, we have got more threatening calls telling us to leave our houses because they’ll bomb it, but they don’t. Their aim is to spread panic and to terrorize people.

Attack on my family

At 7am on 19 November, two people from my extended family and a neighbor were hit by an Israeli missile. All three (Tamer, Amin and Rashid) were martyred at once.

It was Amin’s birthday.

Charred, shrunken and torn into pieces, piled up upon one another as they were covered by their white coffin shrouds. The three weren’t going to fire rockets on Israel, they weren’t going to kill Israeli children or women or even soldiers. They hadn’t got weapons, they were not “terrorists.”

I knew two of my relatives Tamer and Amin personally and am certain that they had never been involved in armed resistance. The three were farmers who grew tomatoes on their land — this was their work. Their van was open and the Israeli jet, with its high technology, could easily recognize the tomatoes in the back.

It hit them with a missile that not only killed them, but terribly deformed their figures. Nothing happened to the tomatoes because they were not the target.

Through their high level of technology and an expertise in killing, the computerized missile wasn’t dropped vertically as you might imagine, but from the side direction to penetrate the front door and kill the three sitting beside each other. It is only the front part of the van, which is completely destroyed, but the back part is intact.

Tamer and Amin were cousins who were 32 and 40 years old respectively. Tamer had two sons and one daughter; Amin had two daughters. All children are less than eight years old. We went to Tamer and Amin’s house where hundreds of people gathered — relatives and otherwise, old and young, men and women.

Their mother was bawling, their wives fainted many times; their aunts were running after their funeral and their children were standing shocked with no expressions on their faces as if they were in denial or as if they couldn’t fathom what was going on as the tragic loss of their father was something beyond their comprehension.

Tamer’s father is, until now, in the hospital. One daughter asked her mother, “Please Mom please call Dad to come soon.” Another daughter kept holding her grandmother who ran, along with men, to the cemetery saying that she has to keep looking at him until the last moment. When they returned, the daughter asked her grandma, “when will dad return Teta?”

Trying to calm the child down, her grandma said, “don’t get afraid Habibti [sweetheart] he will come tomorrow.” Shockingly and surprisingly, the six-year-old girl replied: “have dead people ever returned?”

Men brought the martyrs’ bodies to their homes, but they were completely covered. Martyrs’ faces are only covered when completely damaged. We couldn’t see Tamir and Amin’s faces. My brother said that Rashid’s head is shattered into two, but there was only one part to bury.

Now it is 6pm. While people are sitting in the funeral tent, an Israeli missile was dropped near the tent. People fearfully rushed away, but we don’t know if it will explode later.

Thanks to the blood of the children of Gaza in the 2008-09 massacre, of which we used to think as the Sharpeville and Guernica of Palestine, boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) gained momentum worldwide.

Now this massacre is over and we are still alive. But we Gazans survive only to remember our anguish. To ensure that the blood of our martyrs was not spilled in vain, we are sending a clear message to the world to intensify the calls for a meaningful ethical international campaign of BDS to isolate apartheid Israel until it abides by international law and ends its racist policies.

After Gaza 2012, BDS need to become more effective so that it can take us closer to achieving our just rights.

Gaza sea

Music for Gaza! No more sound of bullets, bombs or drones please!

People tonight are celebrating in Gaza!

But the dead are not all buried. The wounded are still there. Many lives have been devastated. Many lives still hang in uncertainty. Hundreds of houses and infra structure were destroyed. The crime was committed. The perpetrators must be prosecuted.

And more importantly, justice to Palestinians must be restored after decades of injustice. The killing for now stops (insh’allah). But the work is only beginning.

We will continue to be with you.

We are Gaza! We are Palestine!

Here I post a few spontaneous remarks that came in (hoping that the senders won’t object):

From our friend Ayah:

We are still alive!!!! People are celebrating like Eid’s days! “Allah Akbar” every where! I wish our men stop firing in the air, my ears can’t hear more bullets! I want to hear music or at least no sound.

BTW, I can still hear the drones, or am I imagining? No, it is still the drones.
Can’t believe “no more siege”, really!!!

Ayah asks me add this :  “Yes we love life, but we will never forget or forgive for breaking our hearts. Justice!”   She also informs me that they can still here the drones!

 

In from our friend Ziad (it appears Israel managed to raise the death toll up to the last 2 minutes before the ceasefire — quelle horreur! quelle tristesse!)

Mercredi 21 novembre 2012

En direct de Gaza

Il est 22h

La trêve est entrée en figure à 21h

La population civile est soulagée malgré les morts et la destruction massive

Gaza fête sa résistance, sa patience et son attachement à sa terre

On espère un respect israélien de cette trêve et des garanties internationales

Huitième journée de l’agression israélienne contre Gaza

L’aviation israélienne a continué à bombarder Gaza jusqu’à la dernière minute, plus de 25 raids israéliens entre 8h50 et 21h avant l’entrée en figure de cette trêve.

2 martyrs et 3 blessés à 20h58.

22 martyrs et 45 blessé aujourd’hui, le huitième jour de l’agression israélienne

Le bilan de ces huit jours de l’offensive militaire israélienne est lourd : 160 martyrs dont 42 enfants, 12 femmes et 20 personnes âgées, plus de 1200 blessés, et destruction de plus de 300 maisons et immeubles appartiennent à des civils, et 120 bâtiments publics.

Gaza restera toujours debout

Vive Gaza, vive la Palestine, vive la mobilisation populaire et citoyenne internationale pour notre cause noble

Amitiés de Gaza la courageuse, Gaza la vie, Gaza l’espoir et Gaza le sang de nos martyrs.

And from Akram:

This just to say that all of you did great job either by wring and posting, reading or sharing  a post or comment. All of you have been part of media campaign that intended to spread reality about the new massacres that took place against the Palestinians. Your cooperation and your solidarity was one of the reasons that led to the defeat of the aggressors. Here I would like to mention with sincere gratitude all the foreigners who supported the Palestinians. In less than an hour the Palestinians will proudly celebrate this stunning victory against a cowardly enemy who was targeting only civilians. We hope after that we continue this kind of resistance until the criminals are brought to justice and executed according to the international law.

 Long live Palestine,

Long live Palestine,

Long live Palestine !.

As David put it in a response:

It was an honour (as well as a human duty) to do what we could, when we could, to help you and other Palestinians in Gaza. We only hope that the ceasefire holds, and that the international community comes to see the injustice of Israeli occupation more broadly.
Now, to end that blockade!  (my highlight, mn)
ma3a salaam,