Saturday, April 30, 2011

This Week in Palestine May 2011

"Amid this time of great change, there is opportunity, so let us be optimistic and creative in our outlooks. To that end, let us celebrate Palestinian identity and culture-and what better place to begin than with the city which means so much to so many. " The TWIP Collective Theme: Al Quds: A Living History
Cover: Ancient map with Jerusalem at the centre of the world.
Photo from Palestine Image Bank.
Artist of the Month
The Dome of the Rock with the Russian Church.Photo from Palestine Image Bank.

Sliman Mansour: Terrains of Belonging Retrospective Exhibition May – June 2011

Early in the Morning, 1978, oil on canvas, 120 x 90cm. Courtesy of Yvette and Mazen Qupty.

Rituals Under Occupation, 1989, oil on canvas, 100 x 120 cm. Courtesy of Rana Sadik.

Dreams Kite, 2009, oil on canvas, 90 x 100 cm. Courtesy of Amman Cairo Bank.

City of Dreams, 1979, oil on canvas, 125X 95 cm.

Camels of Hardship, 1973, oil on canvas, 152 X 98 cm.

Sliman Mansour: Terrains of Belonging Retrospective Exhibition May – June 2011

Opening 12 May 2011 Official opening @19:00 at Palestinian Art Court - al Hoash Open Reception @ 20:00 at Dar Isaaf Alnashashibi Artwork will be exhibited in both locations. Curated by Dr. Tina Sherwell

Terrains of Belonging is a retrospective exhibition for pioneering artist Sliman Mansour, curated by Dr. Tina Sherwell. The exhibition comes as part of al Hoash’s bi-annual initiative to honour and appreciate the contributions of pioneering Palestinian artists in the art movement locally and internationally, in addition to properly documenting their life’s work through the production of comprehensive books.

Sliman Mansour is one of the most prominent Palestinian artists today, and is the creator of many memorial works that are part of the Palestinian collective memory and identity. His practice spans several decades in which he has distilled experiences of Palestinians through the prism of his canvas, providing important reflections on the changing times he has lived through. Mansour’s works are dispersed across the corners of the world, and are held in many individual collections. This retrospective is an attempt to bring together, in a single exhibition, a wide range of works reflecting the different facets of his practice over the decades.

As a point of departure, the works are loosely collated into different themes rather than a chronological display. This arrangement attempts to create new juxtapositions that reveal recurring themes and concerns of the artist, and the transformations in his approach to the work of art. Several themes are prevalent, including Jerusalem: The City of Dreams, which examines the iconic imagery Mansour has created of the city over the years, reflecting on its central place in the Palestinian imagination. This is set in contrast to the Imprints of Everyday, which profiles the artist’s most recent works on the landscape of checkpoints and the culture of waiting, most famously at Qalandia, which severs Jerusalem from the West Bank. The exhibition also includes archival material from the artist’s personal collection and Mansour’s portraits.

The exhibition also looks retrospectively at the artist’s large body of work on the Palestinian landscape in Terrains of Belonging-after which the exhibition is named-and spans several decades of his practice. Examples from the early works are dominated by symbolism and imagery of the Palestinian village later evolving into his famous works in mud that became a cornerstone of his visual language and practice. More recent work casts more intimate portrayals of the landscape of the homeland and its connection to individuals over generations.

The exhibition will be combined with a comprehensive book of artist Sliman Mansour. The book comes to document and shed a light on Mansour’s artistic and personal life through a wide range of artwork arranged according to the mentioned themes. In addition to the gallery, the book also contains two analytic essays. One is written by professor and artist Bashir Makhoul, Rector of Winchester Campus and Head of Winchester School of Art at the University of Southampton, UK. The other essay is by artist and writer Nicola Gray. On the personal aspect the book includes an interview with the artist conducted by Dr. Yazid Anani alongside archival material of press articles and old photos.

Several educational and artistic activities are planned to accompany the exhibition and to ensure the maximum social involvement of the community with this significant exhibition. It’s rather important for us to reach out to as many audiences as we can and give them the chance to be part of this cultural event. With this in mind we are holding interpretive programmes for schools and students, an artist’s talk, and workshops.

For the same purpose of reaching out to a wide range of audiences and in order to enable Palestinians living in different areas to enjoy and attend to the exhibition, after the premier in Jerusalem, it will tour to Ramallah, Bethlehem, Nazareth-and hopefully to other places in the world.

The exhibition is produced by Palestinian Art Court - al Hoash, in collaboration with Dar Isaaf Al Nashashibi - Dar Altifl Al Arabi. It is funded by the European Union, A.M Qattan Foundation, Al Mawred al Thaqafi, and sponsored by the Palestinian Investment Fund and the Consolidated Contractors Company.

Sliman Mansour

This Week in Palestine 2011: Within Are Precious Books Library Treasures Dick Doughty/Saudi Aramco World/PADIA.

Within Are Precious Books
By Sami Tabar
The shade of the Old City is welcome as I walk past the trinkets and juice stalls of Al Quds, Jerusalem. Friday prayers are finishing. A large Israeli flag flutters above strings of red, white, black and green cloth in the ancient urban maze.

Haifa Khalidi opens the emerald wrought-iron door, smiling. Elegant in a flower-print blouse, her soft grey eyes beam with warmth and hospitality.

“Ahalan wa sahalan, habibi,” Haifa says, her keys jangling in the lock.

Half a block north on The Road of Chains, Haifa stops before another green door. In white paint, the mantle above the arched entrance reads “Khalidi Library: Established 1900.”

Unlocking it, she says that in 1967, her father Haidi found an Israeli “absentee property” sign on the door. He demanded its removal.

“He asked them, ’Don’t you know how to read?’” Haifa explains, laughing in the Palestinian way: chuckling through anger. Her family was not always victorious in protecting their inherited property.

Dick Doughty/Saudi Aramco World/PADIA.

The door closes behind us and the rumble of the busy street instantly mutes. It’s almost cold inside the first chamber, a large marble hall with a mammoth desk, mounted artefacts, and three ancient graves. Originally, this was a mausoleum for a Mamluk lord and his two sons. The sanctity is palpable.

Haifa walks into the next room and stops before six portraits in gilded frames on a shelf of rare books. These men are her ancestors, the progenitors and protectors of the Khalidi waqf, or trusteeship.

Her distant relative, Muhammad Sun’ Allah al-Khalidi, was a powerful judge in Ottoman Jerusalem. In 1721, Sun’ Allah handed his son a list of 85 titles to be held in perpetuity, bequeathing revenue from his massive land holdings in the Old City to pay for the trusteeship. His lineage up to Haifa expanded this literary legacy to today’s collection: 6,000 printed books and 1,278 manuscripts.

According to Dr. Lawrence Conrad, a British historian who catalogued and salvaged many of the Khalidi’s treasures, the Khalidi trusteeship blossomed as the family’s patriarchs became involved in the medieval literary market, bargaining from Cairo, Damascus, and Istanbul to Mecca and Medina. The library’s famous, extensive amount of umm, or original, manuscripts resulted from this trade in tomes.

Conrad wrote that the Khalidis saw themselves as advancing a long tradition- from the Greeks and Abbasids-of knowledge as “divine light that, in order to be truly useful, must be recorded in papyrus scrolls or books, and made available in some systematic way, i.e. in libraries.”

The Khalidi Library contains short essays on the Islamic interpretation of Adam and Eve, Ottoman legal treatises, medical texts, an 80-verse Muslim creed, an interpretation of the basmala, a paper on inflection and concealed senses in Arabic poetry, Sufi chants, a Kurdish-Arabic dictionary, a critical essay of the Christian gospels, poetic verse complaining about governmental and other abuses, works by Darwin, Dante, Gibbon, Milton, Shakespeare, and a Khalidi descendant’s Arabic translation of Victor Hugo’s works.

Found within the massive stacks is a letter symbolic of the Khalidi’s literary fervour. In the letter, a Khalidi writes to his wife about a journey to Alexandria, Egypt in search of a 5,000-page, five-volume hadith. In a bad storm on the return voyage, one of its five volumes was lost at sea. His desperation and desire to replace it are obvious.

Amidst the musty scent of old documents in the portrait room is a calligraphic statement of Gaza’s Ottoman governor, warning Jerusalem’s qadi commanders of Napoleon’s nineteenth-century invasion of Egypt:

Al-kuffar al-faransa al-mala’in, damarrahum Allah ajma’in.
“The damned French infidels, may God destroy them all.”

Haifa beckons me to a spiral staircase in the corner, leading up to a large attic filled with rows of metal bookshelves where she unveils her prizes.

“It’s almost a thousand years old,” Haifa says, lifting a heavy collection of the Prophet Mohammad’s words and deeds, Al Hadith. Upon opening, she reveals careful, colourful artistry 900 years older than Zionism. It was printed in Kairouan, Tunisia. “The Khalidis used to travel,” she quips.

Haifa then displays a 400-year old Qur’an, a sixth-century poison and antidote book translated through Persian from Sanskrit to Arabic, and a graphic chronicle of Salah el Din’s victory over the Crusaders at the Battle of Hittin. Beaming as she closes the boxes, Haifa recounts how students are scanning and digitizing her family’s legacy. It is one way, she says, to protect it. At the bottom of the stairs, the window above the Khalidi family portraits looks out onto what used to be family property. It is now a yeshiva, a Jewish school, appropriated first by the Israeli government for so-called security and then handed over to the Judaization project of former Israeli Chief Rabbi Shlomo Goren. (Goren is famous for breaking into the Temple Mount to pray in 1967 and later advocating its complete destruction).

“Political vicissitudes arising from Israeli expropriation policies beginning in 1948, and especially in the wake of the 1967 War, have had particularly deleterious effects [on the library],” the historian Conrad once wrote. “The effective operation of waqf is of course entirely dependent upon the continuing integrity of its income-producing resources, and in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City alone the Khalidis lost sixteen waqf properties in 1967... in the 1980s the annual revenue of the Hammam al-’Ain waqf supporting the library was reportedly only about 20-22 Jordanian dinars, or about 25 pounds, clearly on a mere fraction of the costs of running such a facility based in Jerusalem since its recapture by Salah el Din in 1187.”

Sipping a Bavarian beer in her house, Haifa teeters between humour, fury, and sadness as she tells of her family’s struggle since 1948 to sustain in the face of Israeli colonization. For now, her presence establishes a fact on the ground.

“My being here is very good for the house,” Haifa says. “If no one is here, they will take it.”

While Israelis knew Goren as the first head of the Military Rabbinate and Israel’s leading rabbi for a decade, the Khalidis knew him as a thief. Once, Haifa said, Goren jumped onto their roof from the yeshiva.

“He offered my uncle a blank check,” she explains. “My uncle refused, of course. Yanni, [the check] had no power at all. It’s powerless. I am not going to sell our homes, our lands, our dignity.”

On the same roof overlooking the Western Wall and the Noble Sanctuary, Haifa explains the Zionist campaign against her family. Formerly Khalidi property-but never sold or voluntarily transferred-the neighbouring buildings now house security stations and the Makhame and Beit Idra yeshivas founded by Goren. She gazes down into the sparse stone plaza of the Western Wall and laments.

“This was a neighbourhood, habibi,” she says, waving her hand over the empty space, detailing from her childhood memory the old Moroccan Quarter of Jerusalem. This was before the bulldozers excised the community to expose remnants of the purported First Temple.

“One day,” she says. “In just one day.”

The Friday sun sets behind Jerusalem as throngs of observant Jews rush the ancient rocks stuffed with prayer notes. Shabbat begins with the blare of the shofar horn as Haifa turns, offers another drink, and picks up one of her many cats.

She is last mutawilla, or guardian, of the Khalidi legacy. The future of the library is unknown: funds are scant and no heir is apparent.

“Any scholars who would like to come are welcome,” says Haifa. “We have [books and manuscripts from the collection] on microfilm, and they are available on the internet. Anyone who would come: ahalan wa sahalan.”

On my way out of Jerusalem, I again pass the Khalidi Library. I remember something Conrad found, buried in stacks of ancient manuscripts. The original sign, in French and Arabic, boasted an understatement:

Fiha kutub qayyima. Dans ici sont les livres precieux.”

Within are precious books.

Sami Tabar is the editor of the Ramallah-based Palestine Monitor and deeply concerned over regional, environmental, and cultural devastation.

Dick Doughty/Saudi Aramco World/PADIA.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Dr. Hanan Ashrawi: “Previously, the Israeli government claimed that it did not have a partner for peace because Palestinians were divided..."

PLO Executive Committee PRESS RELEASE

April 28, 2011

Department of Culture and Information

Palestinian reconciliation a positive step forward

PLO Executive Committee member and member of the PLC, Dr. Hanan Ashrawi, today welcomed an agreement between Fatah and Hamas on reconciliation and future elections.

“The division between Fatah and Hamas has been enormously destructive and self-defeating for Palestinians. This agreement represents a positive step towards Palestinian reconciliation and national unity, which are absolutely crucial to the success of our struggle for freedom and statehood against the status quo of Israeli occupation, colonization and apartheid. It is also a significant victory for democracy in the region,” Dr Ashrawi said.

“Genuine reconciliation and democratic elections are aimed at empowering the Palestinian people, which is precisely why Israel opposes this agreement. The Israeli government does not want to deal with a united Palestinian national movement. Instead, its strategy is one of ‘divide and conquer’.”

“Previously, the Israeli government claimed that it did not have a partner for peace because Palestinians were divided. Now, with Palestinians on the verge of achieving national unity, the same government is saying that President Abbas must choose between peace with Israel or peace with Hamas, but that he cannot have both. Hamas is part of the Palestinian political landscape and part of a Palestinian pluralistic and inclusive democracy. Just as importantly, Palestinian reconciliation makes a positive contribution to peace and stability in the region.”

“What makes Israel’s response all the more absurd is that this Israeli government has done all it can to sabotage efforts towards peace, starting with its refusal to cease all settlement activities.”

“The Palestinian leadership has a responsibility to the Palestinian people. Its mandate is to represent their wishes and safeguard their rights. It is not for Israel to dictate the terms of Palestinian politics, or to determine whom the Palestinian people can and cannot elect.”

Dr Ashrawi called on the international community to respond positively to Palestinian reconciliation.

“Amid the dismal failures of the so-called “peace process” and American efforts to restart negotiations, Palestinian reconciliation presents a significant opportunity to change the prevailing dynamic. It is an opportunity that the international community should embrace and use to rebuild momentum by supporting democratic development in Palestine and throughout the region. It also supports the cause of peace and stability,” Dr Ashrawi said.

“Palestinians face enormous challenges to win back our rights and freedoms against a state bent on maintaining its occupation, building more settlements, and denying Palestinian refugees their fundamental rights. We cannot face these challenges except as one people united by a common vision and a shared determination to persist and overcome. Genuine peace is built on such a vision and determination, and on international law.”

Dr Ashrawi ended by saying that the hopes of many Palestinians rested on the success of reconciliation efforts.

“The challenge ahead is for all Palestinians to ensure the success of these efforts, and for the international community to grasp this opportunity,” Dr Ashrawi concluded.

A Wedding to End War ... a poem by Anne Selden Annab

A Wedding to End War

A wedding
to end war
as youth and beauty
catch our eye

To give of yourself-
and be loving...
bless them both

A wedding to end war.
A green and gold white wedding
with prayers to plant peace
as two become one
with one destiny
to share...

poem copyright ©2011 Anne Selden Annab

Thursday, April 28, 2011

A New Spirit for 2011-Young Jewish descendants of the Arab and Islamic world living in Israel write to their peers in the Middle East and North Africa

Translated from Hebrew; English edited by Chana Morgenstern | Arabic version here

In a letter titled “Ruh Jedida: A New Spirit for 2011,” young Jewish descendants of the Arab and Islamic world living in Israel write to their peers in the Middle East and North Africa

We, as the descendents of the Jewish communities of the Arab and Muslim world, the Middle East and the Maghreb, and as the second and third generation of Mizrahi Jews in Israel, are watching with great excitement and curiosity the major role that the men and women of our generation are playing so courageously in the demonstrations for freedom and change across the Arab world. We identify with you and are extremely hopeful for the future of the revolutions that have already succeeded in Tunisia and Egypt. We are equally pained and worried at the great loss of life in Libya, Bahrain, Yemen, Syria, and many other places in the region.

Our generation’s protest against repression and oppressive and abusive regimes, and its call for change, freedom, and the establishment of democratic governments that foster citizen participation in the political process, marks a dramatic moment in the history of the Middle East and North Africa, a region which has for generations been torn between various forces, internal and external, and whose leaders have often trampled the political, economic, and cultural rights of its citizens.

We are Israelis, the children and grandchildren of Jews who lived in the Middle East and North Africa for hundreds and thousands of years. Our forefathers and mothers contributed to the development of this region’s culture, and were part and parcel of it. Thus the culture of the Islamic world and the multigenerational connection and identification with this region is an inseparable part of our own identity.

We are a part of the religious, cultural, and linguistic history of the Middle East and North Africa, although it seems that we are the forgotten children of its history: First in Israel, which imagines itself and its culture to be somewhere between continental Europe and North America. Then in the Arab world, which often accepts the dichotomy of Jews and Arabs and the imagined view of all Jews as Europeans, and has preferred to repress the history of the Arab-Jews as a minor or even nonexistent chapter in its history; and finally within the Mizrahi communities themselves, who in the wake of Western colonialism, Jewish nationalism and Arab nationalism, became ashamed of their past in the Arab world.

Consequently we often tried to blend into the mainstream of society while erasing or minimizing our own past. The mutual influences and relationships between Jewish and Arab cultures were subjected to forceful attempts at erasure in recent generations, but evidence of them can still be found in many spheres of our lives, including music, prayer, language, and literature.

We wish to express our identification with and hopes for this stage of generational transition in the history of the Middle East and North Africa, and we hope that it will open the gates to freedom and justice and a fair distribution of the region’s resources.

We turn to you, our generational peers in the Arab and Muslim world, striving for an honest dialog which will include us in the history and culture of the region. We looked enviously at the pictures from Tunisia and from Al-Tahrir square, admiring your ability to bring forth and organize a nonviolent civil resistance that has brought hundreds of thousands of people out into the streets and the squares, and finally forced your rulers to step down.

We, too, live in a regime that in reality—despite its pretensions to being “enlightened” and “democratic”—does not represent large sections of its actual population in the Occupied Territories and inside of the Green Line border(s). This regime tramples the economic and social rights of most of its citizens, is in an ongoing process of minimizing democratic liberties, and constructs racist barriers against Arab-Jews, the Arab people, and Arabic culture. Unlike the citizens of Tunisia and Egypt, we are still a long way from the capacity to build the kind of solidarity between various groups that we see in these countries, a solidarity movement that would allow us to unite and march together–all who reside here–into the public squares, to demand a civil regime that is culturally, socially, and economically just and inclusive.

We believe that, as Mizrahi Jews in Israel, our struggle for economic, social, and cultural rights rests on the understanding that political change cannot depend on the Western powers who have exploited our region and its residents for many generations. True change can only come from an intra-regional and inter-religious dialog that is in connection with the different struggles and movements currently active in the Arab world. Specifically, we must be in dialog and solidarity with struggles of the Palestinians citizens of Israel who are fighting for equal political and economic rights and for the termination of racist laws, and the struggle of the Palestinian people living under Israeli military occupation in the West Bank and in Gaza in their demand to end the occupation and to gain Palestinian national independence.

In our previous letter written following Obama’s Cairo speech in 2009, we called for the rise of the democratic Middle Eastern identity and for our inclusion in such an identity. We now express the hope that our generation – throughout the Arab, Muslim, and Jewish world – will be a generation of renewed bridges that will leap over the walls and hostility created by previous generations and will renew the deep human dialog without which we cannot understand ourselves: between Jews, Sunnis, Shias, and Christians, between Kurds, Berbers, Turks, and Persians, between Mizrahis and Ashkenazis, and between Palestinians and Israelis. We draw on our shared past in order to look forward hopefully towards a shared future.

We have faith in intra-regional dialog—whose purpose is to repair and rehabilitate what was destroyed in recent generations—as a catalyst towards renewing the Andalusian model of Muslim-Jewish-Christian partnership, God willing, Insha’Allah, and as a pathway to a cultural and historical golden era for our countries. This golden era cannot come to pass without equal, democratic citizenship, equal distribution of resources, opportunities, and education, equality between women and men, and the acceptance of all people regardless of faith, race, status, gender, sexual orientation, or ethnic affiliation. All of these rights play equal parts in constructing the new society to which we aspire. We are committed to achieving these goals within a process of dialog between all of the people of Middle East and North Africa, as well as a dialog we will undertake with different Jewish communities in Israel and around the world.

We, the undersigned:

Shva Salhoov (Libya), Naama Gershy (Serbia, Yemen), Yael Ben-Yefet (Iraq, Aden), Leah Aini (Greece, Turkey), Yael Berda (Tunisia), Aharon Shem-Tov (Iraq, Iranian Kurdistan), Yosi Ohana (born in Morocco), Yali Hashash (Libya, Yemen), Yonit Naaman (Yemen, Turkey), Orly Noy (born in Iran), Gadi Alghazi (Yugoslavia, Egypt), Mati Shemoelof (Iran, Iraq, Syria), Eliana Almog (Yemen, Germany), Yuval Evri ((Iraq), Ophir Tubul (Morocco, Algeria), Moti Gigi (Morocco), Shlomit Lir (Iran), Ezra Nawi (Iraq), Hedva Eyal (Iran), Eyal Ben-Moshe (Yemen), Shlomit Binyamin (Cuba, Syria, Turkey), Yael Israel (Turkey, Iran), Benny Nuriely (Tunisia), Ariel Galili (Iran), Natalie Ohana Evry (Morocco, Britain), Itamar Toby Taharlev (Morocco, Jerusalem, Egypt), Ofer Namimi (Iraq, Morocco), Amir Banbaji (Syria), Naftali Shem-Tov (Iraq, Iranian Kurdistan), Mois Benarroch (born in Morocco), Yosi David (Tunisia Iran), Shalom Zarbib (Algeria), Yardena Hamo (Iraqi Kurdistan), Aviv Deri (Morocco) Menny Aka (Iraq), Tom Fogel (Yemen, Poland), Eran Efrati (Iraq), Dan Weksler Daniel (Syria, Poland, Ukraine), Yael Gidnian (Iran), Elyakim Nitzani (Lebanon, Iran, Italy), Shelly Horesh-Segel (Morocco), Yoni Mizrahi (Kurdistan), Betty Benbenishti (Turkey), Chen Misgav (Iraq, Poland), Moshe Balmas (Morocco), Tom Cohen (Iraq, Poland, England), Ofir Itah (Morocco), Shirley Karavani (Tunisia, Libya, Yemen), Lorena Atrakzy (Argentina, Iraq), Asaf Abutbul (Poland, Russia, Morocco), Avi Yehudai (Iran), Diana Ahdut (Iran, Jerusalem), Maya Peretz (Nicaragua, Morocco), Yariv Moher (Morocco, Germany), Tami Katzbian (Iran), Oshra Lerer (Iraq, Morocco), Nitzan Manjam (Yemen, Germany, Finland), Rivka Gilad (Iran, Iraq, India), Oshrat Rotem (Morocco), Naava Mashiah (Iraq), Zamira Ron David (Iraq) Omer Avital (Morocco, Yemen), Vered Madar (Yemen), Ziva Atar (Morocco), Yossi Alfi (born in Iraq), Amira Hess (born in Iraq), Navit Barel (Libya), Almog Behar (Iraq, Turkey, Germany)

UNWRA's most recent art project for young Palestinian refugees

"We received hundreds of great pictures from young Palestinian refugees for our photo competition." Choose the People's Choice winner in our photo competition
2 of 6
Abdel Rahim Abu Laban

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Art of the Palestinian diaspora 2011
Published yesterday (updated) 27/04/2011 17:03
Art of the Palestinian diaspora
Meet Bissan Rafe Qasrawi, a painter, film-maker Dalia Odeh, Deema Dabis, a poet, and musician Abboud Hashem. Each Palestinian, each living abroad, adapting life and art to new, alien environments they find themselves in not always by choice.

The lives and experiences of these men and women at once exemplify and reflect the refugee experience for hundreds of thousands of Palestinians, and at the same time show the diversity within that scattered community.

As the eyes of the world turn to the younger generations of the Middle East, as movements of youth gain ground against oppressive governments and policies, Palestinian exiles are speaking up and speaking out about a collective nostalgia, an ideal for the homeland, but at the same time an intense desire to change and fight the set of systems seen as enforcing their alienation.

Bissan is a 25-year-old visual artist and a pre-med student at the University of Houston, Texas. She moved to the United States from Jordan together with her family when she was 13, and has lived there ever since.

Were you born in Palestine?

Bissan: No, but my father was and so was everyone that came before him.

Her painting is oil on wood. She says it is a contour of Palestine’s map masked by the form of a woman. The head of the woman is strategically placed near Lake Tiberias, where Bissan recalls controversy over water usage and resource allocation. The head biting the woman’s shoulder represents a lover - Lebanon - the Gaza Strip is represented by a kiss between the strip and Egypt in what she describes as "a sarcastic display of betrayal."

Palestina I, Bissan Rafe Qasrawi - 2010 [MaanImages/Bissan Qasrawi]

Abboud 'Stormtrap' Hashem, was born in Austria but moved to Palestine as a child. He writes in a rhythm and blues style with elements of rap; a rhythmic poetry that is at once personal and a call to action.

I don’t represent a person or a people, I represent an idea
An idea called freedom

His most popular song calls listeners to action, repeating "What happened yesterday happens today, switch off your TV and grab a microphone."

What is the most vivid image you have of Palestine?

Abboud: My strongest memories are from my childhood there, which I’ve mostly spent outside in my neighborhood in Ramallah, which is full of valleys and trees. I also have a lot of high school memories from back then. Not to mention the days of the Second Intifada ... A part of my mind is still stuck in those days.

Dalia Odeh was born in Yemen, and grew up in Ethiopia, Yemen and Jordan, where she currently lives. As a child, she attended an international school in Ethiopia where she and her sister were treated with contempt by some of the students. But perhaps most importantly Dalia, as she tells it, had a "really hard time convincing other kids that Palestine exists."

She makes documentary films, the latest on the theme of honor, and how the idea of honor varies within Jordanian society, how the people understand the term differently and have a range of expectations.

A still from the documentary [MaanImages]

The film was made in Amman, but "the same, if not worse, applies to women in Palestine," citing the double oppression of honor and occupation.

You have never been to Palestine, what words would you use to describe it?

Dalia: Palestine is my fantasy. A place so far out of reach, yet so close to my heart.

Deema Dabis is a writer and performer who grew up between the United States and Jordan. She studied Journalism at Indiana University then moved between Ohio, Indiana and Los Angeles, eventually leaving the US for travel and work. She currently lives in Jordan where she is studying film making.

"For me, my background has made me aware first off of the importance of art and the responsibility of art. There are many artists out there who make art with no purpose. Just to make art. I am not saying that is wrong, people are free to do as they wish and who am I to judge really. And I also think that there is a difference between inspired and channeled art and making art for art's sake. One is filled with purpose and the other is not.

"So for me it's not that all my art has to be about Palestine per se but it must carry with it a piece of the purpose and responsibility I feel to contribute to making the world a better place - for lack of a better way to describe it."

Her poetry deals with a range of subjects, love, loss, identity, but comes back to the theme of Palestine often.

Can I talk about my homeland
Without talking about you
With your uzis
And stolen star of David
Ancient symbol of union
You used to divide us from ourselves

The poem "Untitled" by Deema, wonders:

Can I smell our nighttime jasmines?
And welcome our olive trees
Our walnuts
Carob pods
And cherries
Without thinking of all the farms your have stolen
Fruit trees uprooted
And those set for barbed wire
And forbidden trespass

The diversity of the artists, the complexity of the work, and nonetheless a shared sentiment, a shared identity tied to a place with which each has a complex relationship forms the outlines of what it means to be a Palestinian displaced.

Interviews by Jason R. Forbus, which were part of a pilot research project as part of an MSc in Globalization at the University of Aberdeen.

Editing by Nora Parr in Bethlehem

Alice Walker's Garden: The Peace of Non-Violent Resistance: Report From the West Bank (Palestine)

The Peace of Non-Violent Resistance; Report From the West Bank (Palestine)

©2011 by Alice Walker

I have been in Palestine for five days. It has been amazing. Deeply distressing and sad in many ways; but also filled with joy, with creativity, exuberance, and hope. Who knew there was so much life left in Palestine? That people are in love with literature and poetry? That young people are on fire about the novels and short stories they’re reading in their classes? As well as about the revolutions shaking the Arab world? That despite the hardships of occupation there is a sense among Palestinians that the world is changing and is at last capable of hearing them. And not just hearing them, but responding. And not only to their tragic and hair raising reports of the lethal Israeli occupation; an occupation as pathological as any ever to afflict humankind. No, the thought in the air around here resembles the brilliant red poppy one sees glowing between massive rocks, its roots somehow not crushed, that sings: Oh yes, I am still here, still red, still blooming as me, in spite of everything! And guess what? I have no desire to resemble these rocks that sit on top of me.

This is the peace of non-violent revolt which entails a radical dedication to non-abandonment of the peaceful self.

Long live all of us, and especially the Palestinian people: Tenacious, like the red poppy. Waving bright hope in the smallest wind. Blooming, joyful, retaining our humor and generosity to the stranger, but also our love of green grass and Spring.

Each of Earth’s peoples teaches the rest of us something: You demonstrate steadfastness: how to hold on, through lies, murder, brutal repression, breathtaking theft, unbearable despair, until at last, singing our own outraged and wild poppy song, we come to join you.

Ramallah, Palestine


Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Palestinian Christians take part in the Holy Fire ceremony in the West Bank city of Ramallah, Saturday, April 23, 2011. The Holy Fire ceremony is part of Orthodox Easter rituals and the flame symbolizes the resurrection of Christ. (AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed)

Bosnian Serb woman touches holly icons before Easter Service in Orthodox Church in northern Bosnian town of Tuzla, 130 kms north of Bosnian capital of Sarajevo, on Sunday, April 24, 2011. Bosnian Croat and Bosnian Serbs celebrate Easter on a same day. (AP Photo/Amel Emric)

Syriac Christian girls, who are members of the choir, attend an Easter service at the Virgin Mary Syriac church in Diyarbakir, southeastern Turkey, April 24, 2011.REUTERS/Murad Sezer (TURKEY - Tags: RELIGION)

Basque people hold the Ikurrina, the Basque National flag, during celebrations marking Aberri Eguna, or Fatherland Day, the Basque people's annual feast day which coincides with Easter Sunday as it is celebrated in Saint Etienne de Baigorry, southwestern France, Sunday, April 24, 2011. (AP Photo/Bob Edme)

A Christian girl prays at the Anointing Stone inside the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, the site where many Christians believe Jesus was crucified and buried, during Easter Sunday mass, in Jerusalem's Old City, Sunday, April 24, 2011. Christians from around the world are celebrating Easter Sunday in Jerusalem, marking the day of Jesus' resurrection in the holy city two millennia ago. Orthodox Christians and Roman Catholics held ceremonies at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, revered as the site of Jesus' crucifixion and burial and of his resurrection on Easter Sunday. (AP Photo/Tara Todras-Whitehill)

An Armenian priest processes during Easter Sunday mass inside the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, the site where many Christians believe Jesus was crucified and buried, in Jerusalem's Old City, Sunday, April 24, 2011. Christians from around the world are celebrating Easter Sunday in Jerusalem, marking the day of Jesus' resurrection in the holy city two millennia ago. Orthodox Christians and Roman Catholics held ceremonies at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, revered as the site of Jesus' crucifixion and burial and of his resurrection on Easter Sunday. (AP Photo/Tara Todras-Whitehill)

Faithful take place prior to the arrival of Pope Benedict XVI for the Easter Holy Mass at St Peter's square at The Vatican. Pope Benedict XVI on Sunday urged "diplomacy and dialogue" instead of arms in Libya and "solidarity" with refugees from unrest across the north African and Middle Eastern region. (AFP/Alberto Pizzoli)

A child attends Easter Sunday service at Episcopal Church of the Sudan Diocese of Khartoum All Saints Cathedral, April 24, 2011. REUTERS/Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah (SUDAN - Tags: RELIGION SOCIETY)

A man prays next to a giant Easter egg, in front of St James Church, in Medjugorje, April 24, 2011. Catholic believers have made pilgrimages to the church for the past 30 years since a group of locals said they had apparitions from the Virgin Mary. REUTERS/Adam Tanner (BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA - Tags: SOCIETY RELIGION)

Easter light : Greek Orthodox people light candles during an Easter rite at St. George's Church in Fener Patriarchate, Istanbul. (AFP/Mustafa Ozer)

Celebrating Easter : A child dressed as an angel removes the veil on the statue of Mother Mary during a mass in celebration of Easter Sunday outside St. Domingo Church in Quezon City, east of Manila. (AFP/Noel Celis)

Catholic nuns walk inside the Church of Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem's Old City April 24, 2011 during Easter procession REUTERS/Baz Ratner(JERUSALEM - Tags: RELIGION IMAGES OF THE DAY)

Leah, 11, foreground second from left, and her friend Rachel, 10, foreground second from right, both from New Jersey, pose for photographers with others wearing hats as they take part in the Easter Parade along New York's Fifth Avenue Sunday April 24, 2011. (AP Photo/Tina Fineberg)

Players celebrate after winning the annual Lelo match in the village of Shukhuti, about 290 km (180 miles) west of Tbilisi, April 24, 2011. The villagers of Zemo (upper) Shukhuti and Kvemo (lower) Shukhuti have played the game every Easter Sunday for generations, with each side trying to carry the 16 kg (35 lbs) ball to their end of the neighbouring villages.REUTERS/David Mdzinarishvili (GEORGIA - Tags: SOCIETY RELIGION)

A person takes a picture of a statue of Jesus Christ during Holy Week celebrations in Niquinohomo, Nicaragua, on Easter Sunday April 24, 2011. Christians from around the world are celebrating Easter Sunday, marking the day of Jesus' resurrection two millennia ago. (AP Photo/Esteban Felix)

Slovak youths dressed in traditional costumes throw a bucket of water at a girl as part of traditional Easter celebrations in the village of Trencianska Tepla, 145 km (90 miles) north of Bratislava April 25, 2011. Girls are doused with water and whipped in a custom believed to ensure a woman's fertility and beauty. REUTERS/Radovan Stoklasa (SLOVAKIA - Tags: SOCIETY RELIGION)

Local residents in traditional dresses ride their decorated horses through fields to get a blessing for both men and beasts at the St. George church near Traunstein, southern Germany, on Monday, April 25, 2011. The procession has been held since 300 years on Easter Monday.(AP Photo/Matthias Schrader)

St. Georgi Ride : A woman wearing traditional Bavarian clothes on a festively decorated horse takes part in the traditional St. Georgi Ride in Traunstein, southern Germany. The annual ride, taking place on Easter Monday, is a horse pilgrimage to honor Saint George.(AFP/DPA/Tobias Hase)
A Christian holds a cross as she prays during Easter celebrations at the Sacred Heart Catholic church in Baghdad April 24, 2011. A roadside bomb exploded near an entrance of the Sacred Heart Catholic church in Baghdad on Sunday, wounding two police officers and two civilians, an Interior Ministry source said. REUTERS/Saad Shalash (IRAQ - Tags: RELIGION)

Iraqi Christian children show the painted eggs they received during celebrations after an Easter service at Chaldean Catholic church in Amman April 24, 2011. Thousands of Iraqi Christians fled to neighbouring Jordan following a spate of bombings that targeted churches in Iraqi cities in the past few years REUTERS/Ali Jarekji (JORDAN - Tags: SOCIETY RELIGION)

Iraqi Christian children break the painted eggs they received during celebrations after an Easter service at Chaldean Catholic church in Amman April 24, 2011.Thousands of Iraqi Christians fled to neighbouring Jordan following a spate of bombings that targeted churches in Iraqi cities in the past few years. REUTERS/Ali Jarekji (JORDAN - Tags: SOCIETY RELIGION)

A member of the Samaritan sect looks toward the West Bank city of Nablus as the sun rises from Mount Gerizim during the traditional pilgrimage marking the holiday of Passover April 24, 2011. The Samaritans, who trace their roots to the biblical Kingdom of Israel in what is now the northern occupied West Bank, observe religious practices similar to those of Judaism. Picture taken on April 24, 2011. REUTERS/Darren Whiteside (WEST BANK - Tags: RELIGION)

Palestinian Christians take part in the Holy Fire ceremony in the West Bank city of Ramallah, Saturday, April 23, 2011. The Holy Fire ceremony is part of Orthodox Easter rituals and the flame symbolizes the resurrection of Christ. (AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed)

Sunday, April 24, 2011

FLASH MOB in Beirut! ....Jesus is Risen song ترنيمة: المسيح قام

Al Maseeh Kam! Christ is Risen!

This is a 21st c. phenomena a flash mob - in this case at Easter in Beirut!