Amoula il Majnoona

Amoula's blog from Ramallah

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

altered billboard in Ramallah from "Taste The Occupation"

A recent action in Ramallah from "Taste The Occupation" which is a campaign against Israeli products and in particular the Shtraws Ice cream (which is Israeli) publicity campaign in Palestine. Shtraws billboards are all over Ramallah.....

Saturday, August 09, 2008

الله يرحم شاعرنا الكبير محمود درويش

this was one of my favorite poems

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Hasan Hourani

a moment....a breath...for Hasan

This post is for my friend Hasan who left us 5 years ago today....

I wrote this in August of 2003:

I see Hasan the streets of Ramallah and New York, on the subway, in Ziryab and in Union Square, in Brooklyn, Manhattan and Queens. Whenever I think of Hasan I see him laughing and happy. I was overjoyed when Hasan told me he was coming to New York. I couldn't wait.

Hasan arrived in New York in the spring of 2001 full of energy, big ideas and big plans. He charmed and amazed everyone around him with his joy of life, his free spirit and his dreams. I loved being by his side. Hasan loved people and made many friends from every walk of life and background. There are so many stories to tell about his life in New York. There were the days in Union Square, his dancing, his art projects, his solo exhibition, the demonstrations, the eggs he cooked, September 11th, and much, much more.

Before I left New York last May, he told me he was going to South Africa to live on a beach and work on his book. Months later, I was happily surprised to see him in his beloved Ramallah. The last time I saw Hasan was the night before his death. He came to my house bursting with joy from being back in Palestine. He had just found a house in Jifna in which he was going to
settle in to finish his book.

I left the day after Hasan's funeral. As the plane flew over Jaffa, I looked down at the sea and remembered the necklace Hasan loved to wear. A white spoon with a scoop of blue glass, like a spoonful of sea, hung from his neck. He used to laugh and say he wore it so that he could take the sea with him wherever he went.

I know Hasan will be with many of us wherever we go.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Don't Play Israel

Don't Play Israel joins other groups in celebrating the list of artists to recently cancel appearances/engagements in Israel. We believe the cultural boycott is gaining in effect.

Recent cancellations include:
Jean-Luc Godard
Chris Cornell
Siouxie Sioux
Snoop Dogg

We believe that the hard work of activists and calls issued by organizations such as PACBI have been effective in increasing consciousness of the boycott -- many other artists are refusing to play Israel, but are doing so quietly. The next challenge is to encourage these artists to publicly engage with the boycott.

And much remains to be done. Artists to have recently announced upcoming concerts include:
Laurie Anderson
Mercedes Sosa

Details on how to contact these artists appear on the Don't Play Israel blog:

Pass on the word... the cultural boycott is spreading.


Monday, July 21, 2008

Slingshot Hip Hop comes to Ramallah finally!!!!!!!!!!!

My friend Jackie Salloum came to Ramallah to show her film last Thursday and we were so lucky to have a live concert after the film.
I love DAM! Thank you!

Here is the trailer of the film:

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Untitled (servees) (بلا عنوان‏(سرفيس

I am exhibiting a new work in this years Jerusalem Show. It opens next Wednesday night so if you are in Palestine please come to the opening and party! There are a lot of great artists taking part in the show.

I can not post this without noting the fact that most of my friends and my family will not be able to come because they are West Bank I.D holders living in Ramallah, Bethlehem, Nablus etc and the Israeli state forbids them from entering Jerusalem.

Untitled (servees) (بلا عنوان‏(سرفيس

"Untitled (servees)" is an audio work located at Damascus Gate (Bab il Amoud) which stands at the start of the road leading to Nablus and onward to Damascus. Once a massive hub of the main regional transport network of serveeses (communal taxis), it had direct links to Beirut, Amman, Baghdad, Kuwait as well as every urban Palestinian center such as Lyd, Jaffa, Ramallah, Nablus, Gaza, Ramle. Damascus Gate was the point where servees drivers used to pick up customers by calling out the names of their various destinations. "Untitled (servees)" recalls that purpose and the once fluid space of movement, connection and exchange and attempts to make visible the fractures and interactions of everyday life within the disintegrating urban landscape. Calling out cities servees drivers recall their destinations.

This audio work is a part of ongoing long-term research, which explores and investigates the disappearing transportation network in Palestine and its implications on the physical and social experience of space. This is a result of the ongoing fragmentation and continued destruction of the urban landscape by the Israeli Occupation.

بلا عنوان (سرفيس)

"بلا عنوان (سرفيس)" هو عمل فنيّ سماعيّ مسجل في "باب العامود" والذي يقع على بداية الطريق المؤدية إلى مدينة نابلس، ومنها تستمر إلى دمشق.

كان "باب العامود" في فترة ما المركز الرئيسي لشبكة مواصلات المركبات العمومية، وكان نقطة الوصل المباشرة لبيروت، عمّان بغداد،والكويت، بالإضافة إلى مراكز مدنية رئيسية في فلسطين، مثل اللدّ و الرملة، يافا، رام الله، نابلس،وغزّة. في ذلك الزمن،كان سائقو هذه المركبات العمومية يتجمعون في ساحة باب العامود ليقلّواُ الركاب عن طريق نداء - بأصوات مرتفعة - أسماء المدن المختلفة التي يقصدونها. وبناءً على هذا التاريخ، يقوم عمل "بلا عنوان (سرفيس)" بإعادة ذكرى ذلك الزمن الذي كانت فيه الحركة حرّة تتدفق بلا عقبات، حيث كان هناك تواصل وتبادل بين الناس. ويحاول أن يظهر التشقق و طبيعة التفاعل في الحياة اليومية ما بين المناطق الجغرافية المدنية والتي في حالة تفسّخ مستمر. وبمناداة أسماء المدن، يتذكر سائقو السرفيسات تلك الأماكن التي كانوا يقصدونها.

هذا العمل السماعي هو جز من مشروع بحث طويل الأمد الذي يتحرّى ويحقق في واقع تلاشي شبكة المواصلات في فلسطين وتداعيات هذا التلاشي وتأثيره على مفهوم الحيّز من النواحِ المادية والاجتماعية؛ وما هذا إلاّ نتيجة استمرار أعمال تشقيق وتدمير الأراضي المتعمدة من قبل الاحتلال الإسرائيلي


The Jerusalem Show, edition 0.1, July 9-19, 2008

A Contemporary Art Show in the Old City of Jerusalem

Wednesday, 9 July

19:00 Opening Exhibition Tour with curator Jack Persekian starting from Al-Ma'mal Foundation, New Gate

21:00 Opening Reception , Padico Services, Haret Al-Sa'idiyeh

Participating Artists:

Tarek Al-Ghoussein, Mohammad Al-Hawajri, Jawad Al-Malhi, Basma Al-Sharif, Berndt Anwander, Luchezar Boyadjiev, Phil Collins, Aissa Deebi, Sophie Elbaz, Roza El-Hassan, Hana Farah, Akram Halabi, Emily Jacir, Leopold Kessler, Jumana Manna, Sliman Mansour, Henrik Placht, Judy Price, Nathalie Retivoff, Peter Riedlinger, Nida Sinnokrot, Samir Srouji, Oraib Toukan, Elisabeth Von-Samsonow, Wafaa Yasin, Inass Yassin, Manar Zuaibi

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Enacting Emancipation

Although I am in Ramallah I wanted to post this Toronto exhibition for anyone who may be in that area. This show is very dear to me because it brings together the indigenous peoples of Palestine and North America. The opening is June 28th so please drop by if you live there. We will be doing a panel - I am going to be speaking live from Ramallah on that same day.

James Luna, Apparitions, 2008

When engaging with the similarity of colonial oppression between the Indigenous peoples of North America and Palestine, the late Edward Said stated that the task at hand was 'to universalize the crisis, to give greater human scope to what a particular race or nation suffered, to associate that experience with the suffering of others.' Enacting Emancipation was born from this intention.

This study of the interconnectedness of the First Nations and Palestinian experience was inspired by the sixtieth-year memorial of the Palestinian Nakba (catastrophe of 1948). The exhibition unravels a universal and international system of colonial technique and strategy, while remaining fully cognizant of the dangers in homogenizing resistant cultures. The curators sought contrast in defining strategies of resistance, which elucidated the fact that the differences of defense were culturally based and inheritably Indigenous.

Together the artists in this exhibition - James Luna, Emily Jacir, Erica Lord, and John Halaka - signify the individualized experiences of Fourth World peoples who have been stripped of context, denied distinction, and disenfranchised from traditional territories. Together they present an immediacy of need in defending land and citizenry, the recognition of sovereignty, and their personal engagements in the quest for freedom.


Monday, June 23, 2008

Denied the Right to go Home

I am Palestinian – born and raised – and my Palestinian roots go back
centuries. No one can change that even if they tell me that
Jerusalem, my birth place, is not Palestine, even if they tell me
that Palestine doesn’t exist, even if they take away all my papers
and deny me entry to my own home, even if they humiliate me and take
away my rights. I AM PALESTINIAN.

Name: Zeina Emile Sam’an Ashrawi; Date of Birth: July 30, 1981;
Ethnicity: Arab. This is what was written on my Jerusalem ID card. An
ID card to a Palestinian is much more than just a piece of paper; it
is my only legal documented relationship to Palestine. Born in
Jerusalem, I was given a Jerusalem ID card (the blue ID), an Israeli
Travel Document and a Jordanian Passport stamped Palestinian (I have
no legal rights in Jordan). I do not have an Israeli Passport, a
Palestinian Passport or an American Passport. Here is my story:

I came to the United States as a 17 year old to finish high school in
Pennsylvania and went on to college and graduate school and
subsequently got married and we are currently living in Northern
Virginia. I have gone home every year at least once to see my
parents, my family and my friends and to renew my Travel Document as
I was only able to extend its validity once a year from Washington
DC. My father and I would stand in line at the Israeli Ministry of
Interior in Jerusalem, along with many other Palestinians, from 4:30
in the morning to try our luck at making it through the revolving
metal doors of the Ministry before noon – when the Ministry closed
its doors - to try and renew the Travel Document. We did that year
after year. As a people living under an occupation, being faced with
constant humiliation by an occupier was the norm but we did what we
had to do to insure our identity was not stolen from us.

In August of 2007 I went to the Israeli Embassy in Washington DC to
try and extend my travel document and get the usual “Returning
Resident” VISA that the Israelis issue to Palestinians holding an
Israeli Travel Document. After watching a few Americans and others
being told that their visas would be ready in a couple of weeks my
turn came. I walked up to the bulletproof glass window shielding the
lady working behind it and under a massive picture of the Dome of the
Rock and the Walls of Jerusalem that hangs on the wall in the Israeli
consulate, I handed her my papers through a little slot at the bottom
of the window.

“Shalom” she said with a smile. “Hi” I responded, apprehensive and
scared. As soon as she saw my Travel Document her demeanor
immediately changed. The smile was no longer there and there was very
little small talk between us, as usual. After sifting through the
paperwork I gave her she said: “where is your American Passport?” I
explained to her that I did not have one and that my only Travel
Document is the one she has in her hands. She was quiet for a few
seconds and then said: “you don’t have an American Passport?”
suspicious that I was hiding information from her. “No!” I said. She
was quiet for a little longer and then said: “Well, I am not sure
we’ll be able to extend your Travel Document.” I felt the blood
rushing to my head as this is my only means to get home! I asked her
what she meant by that and she went on to tell me that since I had
been living in the US and because I had a Green Card they would not
extend my Travel Document. After taking a deep breath to try and
control my temper I explained to her that a Green Card is not a
Passport and I cannot use it to travel outside the US. My voice was
shaky and I was getting more and more upset (and a mini shouting
match ensued) so I asked her to explain to me what I needed to do.
She told me to leave my paperwork and we would see what happens.

A couple of weeks later I received a phone call from the lady telling
me that she was able to extended my Travel Document but I would no
longer be getting the “Returning Resident” VISA. Instead, I was given
a 3 month tourist VISA. Initially I was happy to hear that the Travel
Document was extended but then I realized that she said “tourist
VISA”. Why am I getting a tourist VISA to go home? Not wanting to
argue with her about the 3 month VISA at the time so as not to
jeopardize the extension of my Travel Document, I simply put that bit
of information on the back burner and went on to explain to her that
I wasn’t going home in the next 3 months. She instructed me to come
back and apply for another VISA when I did intend on going. She
didn’t add much and just told me that it was ready for pick-up. So I
went to the Embassy and got my Travel Document and the tourist VISA
that was stamped in it.

My husband, my son and I were planning on going home to Palestine
this summer. So a month before we were set to leave (July 8, 2008) I
went to the Israeli Embassy in Washington DC, papers in hand, to ask
for a VISA to go home. I, again, stood in line and watched others get
VISAs to go to my home. When my turn came I walked up to the window;
“Shalom” she said with a smile on her face, “Hi” I replied. I slipped
the paperwork in the little slot under the bulletproof glass and
waited for the usual reaction. I told her that I needed a returning
resident VISA to go home. She took the paperwork and I gave her a
check for the amount she requested and left the Embassy without

A few days ago I got a phone call from Dina at the Israeli Embassy
telling me that she needed the expiration date of my Jordanian
Passport and my Green Card. I had given them all the paperwork they
needed time and time again and I thought it was a good way on their
part to waste time so that I didn’t get my VISA in time. Regardless,
I called over and over again only to get their voice mail. I left a
message with the information they needed but kept called every 10
minutes hoping to speak to someone to make sure that they received
the information in an effort to expedite the tedious process. I
finally got a hold of someone. I told her that I wanted to make sure
they received the information I left on their voice mail and that I
wanted to make sure that my paperwork was in order. She said, after
consulting with someone in the background (I assume it was Dina),
that I needed to fax copies of both my Jordanian Passport and my
Green Card and that giving them the information over the phone wasn’t
acceptable. So I immediately made copies and faxed them to Dina.

A few hours later my cell phone rang. “Zeina?” she said. “Yes” I
replied, knowing exactly who it was and immediately asked her if she
received the fax I sent. She said: “ehhh, I was not looking at your
file when you called earlier but your Visa was denied and your ID and
Travel Document are no longer valid.” “Excuse me?” I said in
disbelief. “Sorry, I cannot give you a visa and your ID and Travel
Document are no longer valid. This decision came from Israel not from

I cannot describe the feeling I got in the pit of my stomach. “Why?”
I asked and Dina went on to tell me that it was because I had a Green
Card. I tried to reason with Dina and to explain to her that they
could not do that as this is my only means of travel home and that I
wanted to see my parents, but to no avail. Dina held her ground and
told me that I wouldn’t be given the VISA and then said: “Let the
Americans give you a Travel Document”.

I have always been a strong person and not one to show weakness but
at that moment I lost all control and started crying while Dina was
on the other end of the line holding my only legal documents linking
me to my home. I began to plead with her to try and get the VISA and
not revoke my documents; “put yourself in my shoes, what would you
do? You want to go see your family and someone is telling you that
you can’t! What would you do? Forget that you’re Israeli and that I’m
Palestinian and think about this for a minute!” “Sorry” she said,”I
know but I can’t do anything, the decision came from Israel”. I tried
to explain to her over and over again that I could not travel without
my Travel Document and that they could not do that – knowing that
they could, and they had!

This has been happening to many Palestinians who have a Jerusalem ID
card. The Israeli government has been practicing and perfecting the
art of ethnic cleansing since 1948 right under the nose of the world
and no one has the power or the guts to do anything about it. Where
else in the world does one have to beg to go to one’s own home? Where
else in the world does one have to give up their identity for the
sole reason of living somewhere else for a period of time? Imagine if
an American living in Spain for a few years wanted to go home only to
be told by the American government that their American Passport was
revoked and that they wouldn’t be able to come back!

If I were a Jew living anywhere around the world and had no ties to
the area and had never set foot there, I would have the right to go
any time I wanted and get an Israeli Passport. In fact, the Israelis
encourage that. I however, am not Jewish but I was born and raised
there, my parents, family and friends still live there and I cannot
go back! I am neither a criminal nor a threat to one of the most
power countries in the world, yet I am alienated and expelled from my
own home.

As it stands right now, I will be unable to go home – I am one of many.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Waltz with Bashir - Trailer

I really want to see this.


Tuesday, May 20, 2008

رام اللة هل ايام

Saturday, May 17, 2008

"Salt of this Sea" Premiere at Cannes and Trailer

!!!!!!!!!مبروك يا اختي

I am so happy and proud of my sister Annemarie! Yesterday her film "Milh Hadha al-Bahr" premiered at the Cannes Film Festival!!!!! Here is a link to the festival page about her film:

And here is a beautiful photo from the site (Photo:Julia Brechler) of them on the stage right before the screening:

The film was supposed to premiere here last week but the Israelis denied my sister entry (see earlier post). That did not stop us from celebrating this momentous occasion with her! We all gathered together here in Ramallah and threw the "RAMALLAH CANNES PARTY (umbilical cord from Ramallah to Cannes)" We all raised our glasses high and got to do a video conference with the Annemarie and some of the cast and crew before they headed off to the red carpet and we spoke to them by phone. We were all together every step of the way.

As soon as the film is scheduled to show here I will post it. In the meantime here is the trailer!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

ذكرى النكبة في رام الله اليوم

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

ENTRY DENIED: Annemarie Jacir

Here is the letter Annemarie wrote after being brutally denied entry into Palestine yesterday at the Allenby Bridge. She was coming to attend the world premiere of her film and we were all going to celebrate her film and her success with her.

For more information on this unofficial Israeli policy of denying entry:

Here is a letter she wrote when she was sent back yesterday:

I have been looking forward to this week for months now – it was to be one of the most important moments for me - the world premiere of our feature film "milh hadha al- bahr" (Salt of this Sea) in Palestine.

The premiere was to take place in Amari Refugee camp in Ramallah, with the cast and crew, the people who helped make this film happen, who believe in it, to be in attendance. An outdoor screening and an occasion to share the completion of a project which has been the result of a five-year struggle. What made this event so special was that it is also a big celebration for us – that we received the incredible news that the film was selected for the Cannes Film Festival as an Official Selection (May 14th – 25th, 2008).

As you may know, the Israeli Authorities have not allowed me to return to Palestine for 9 months now. Because of this we were not able to film a main scene of the film and in the end, the scene had to be shot in Marseille, France. My lawyer has been working now for eight months on the issue of my return home. So for the premiere of the film, I also had an invitation from the French Consulate in Jerusalem, who have been supporters of the film, and the International Art Academy of Ramallah were co-sponsoring the screening. There was nothing I was looking forward to more than fianlly being back in Palestine and sharing the film.

From Amman, Jordan, I took the bus to the Allenby bridge (Sheikh Hussein) in order to cross the Jordanian border and enter the West Bank. I arrived at the bridge at 10 in the morning. The Israelis held me there for six hours, during which time I was interrogated approximately five times. In the beginning I was made to wait in the main room with all the other people crossing. After some time, I was taken to another section in the back, separated from the others, and spent the remaining period of my time waiting there alone. Every now and then people would come in and out of a door, sometimes to ask me questions, sometimes just on their way somewhere else. My telephone was taken from me.

At the end, I was then taken to the general room once more and asked to sit and wait. After about 20 minutes, a woman in a blue uniform (the others wore a different uniform), came towards me with my passport in her hand and four security agents behind her. She handed me my passport and said, "The Israeli Ministry of Interior has denied you entry." I asked if a reason was given. She said, "You spend too much time here." I was then deported - escorted by two of the agents out of the terminal and onto a bus back to Jordan.

I got on the bus. I felt like my legs weren't strong enough to carry me.

Annemarie Jacir


Thursday, April 24, 2008

Milh Hadha al-Bahr (Salt of this Sea) GOING TO CANNES!

The Palestinian film, Salt of this Sea ("milh hadha al bahr"), directed by Annemarie Jacir and starring Suheir Hammad and Saleh Bakri, has been accepted as an "Official Selection" of the Cannes Film Festival 2008.

The Cannes Film Festival takes place in May 2008, which is also the 60th anniversary of the Nakba, the ethnic cleansing of Palestine. Salt of this Sea, the first feature film by a Palestinian female director to be accepted to the Cannes Film Festival, follows the story of third generation refugees in search of freedom and is a commemoration of the ongoing Nakba.

In May 1948, Israel was declared a "Jewish state" despite the fact that the majority of the indigenous population consisted of Palestinian Arabs, Christian and Muslim. Zionist leader David Ben Gurion instituted "Plan Dalet" in order to change the demographic make-up of historic Palestine and secure physical control over the territory. What followed is the expulsion and dispossession of 780,000 Palestinians from their homes and land (75% of the population). More than 530 Palestinian villages were depopulated and/or completely destroyed. And the world's largest and longest-standing refugee population was created.

Before Cannes, the film will have its world premiere in Amari Refugee camp in Ramallah with the presence of the film director Annemarie Jacir and main cast.

Milh Hadha al-Bahr (Salt of this Sea)
Palestine 2008
Directed by Annemarie Jacir
Produced by JBA Production
1'43" min.

Soraya, born in Brooklyn in a working class community of Palestinian refugees, discovers that her grandfather's savings were frozen in a bank account in Jaffa when he was exiled in 1948. Determined to reclaim what is hers, she fulfills her life-long dream of "returning" to Palestine. She meets a young man whose ambition, contrary to her, is to leave forever and find a life far away. Tired of the constraints that dictate their lives, they know that in order to be free, they must take things into their own hands, even if it's against the law.

Monday, March 24, 2008

بيت مكان 2008 برنامج اقامة و تبادل الفنانين العرب

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Bush's "vision" is Palestine's nightmare

The illustration commissioned by the Campaign for the Right of Entry/Re-entry to the Occupied Palestinian Territory that Al-Quds newspaper refused to publish.


Bush's "vision" is Palestine's nightmare
Sam Bahour writing from al-Bireh/Ramallah, occupied West Bank, Live from Palestine, 10 January 2008

US President George W. Bush landed in Israel yesterday on his first presidential trip to the country. He participated in a press conference in Jerusalem with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, what both men termed a "historic" and "monumental" occasion. After listening to both so-called leaders make their opening comments and fielding questions from journalists, the only groundbreaking revelation I could register was that Bush's naivete, either real or feigned, only served the agenda of one party in the region -- Hamas. The radical Islamists at Hamas could not find a better recruiter for their movement if they tried.

My opinion may be extreme, but then again, I live in extreme limbo under Israeli military occupation, shaped by a policy both men continuously refuse to call by its true name -- state terror.

My opinion is certainly subjective but I started my day by reading a communique from the real world: a report by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs that the background of the issue: on 28 June 2006 the Israeli Air Force bombed the power plant in the Gaza Strip, destroying all six transformers and cutting 43 percent of Gaza's total power capacity. The report states, "households in the Gaza Strip are now experiencing regular power cuts" and notes that "the irregular [electricity] supply causes additional problems. Running water in Gaza is only available in most households for around eight hours per day. If there is no power when water is available, it cannot be pumped above ground level, reducing the availability of running water to between four and six hours per day." The result of this single punitive measure, as stated in this report, is that if Gaza's Coastal Municipalities Water Utility "cannot provide its own emergency power supply because of its own fuel shortages, it has to pump raw sewage into the sea which damages the coastline in Gaza, southern Israel and Egypt."

In another report, released the same day, the World Food Programme spokesperson Kirstie Campbell finds that 70 percent of the population of Gaza has to choose between putting food on the table or a roof over their heads.

Bush and Olmert do not seem to worry there will be any fallout from the disturbing information in these reports, released one day before Bush's arrival. As a matter of fact, the reality that Israel has successfully placed 1.5 million Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, over 50 percent of them children, in the dark and under the most draconian siege in recent history did not even make it to the margins of either leader's speeches.

Much more important issues were on Bush's agenda. The need to realize and work on a "vision" for the future was in the forefront of Bush's mind. "The parties" should now sit down and "negotiate a vision" -- the parties being Israel, the fourth strongest military might in the world and a forty-year-long occupier, and the Palestinians, a stateless people who have been dispossessed by Israel for sixty years and under brutal military occupation by their colonizers for over four decades.

Both Bush and Olmert did send one united message to the world: the two-state solution was still the aim of the negotiations. Reading between the lines, we can infer that to them, the specter of a single democratic state, from the Mediterranean to the Jordan River, is the most frightening vision of all. To ensure that a one-state solution of Palestinians (Muslims and Christians) and Israelis (Jews, Muslims, and Christians) living side by side with equal national and civil rights in historic Palestine does not materialize, the US and Israel talk about a two-state solution, but in the meantime, the US bankrolls Israel as it continues to create facts on the ground that make any viable Palestinian state impossible.

Olmert was clear beyond a doubt: President Bush has been very, very good for Israel. Olmert was nearly jumping for joy as he praised Bush for increasing the comprehensive US aid package to Israel to a whopping $30 billion.

Journalists constantly raised the issue of Israeli settlement-building in the occupied territory. Again, Olmert said Jerusalem is different, and no one should expect settlements to stop there. As for the other settlements, he said it was complicated and began elucidating the lexicon of "outposts," "population centers," etc. Bush, for his part, was only able to remind us all that Israel has been promising for over four years to stop settlements but has yet to do so. Even that came with a chuckle amongst journalists, as if the human tragedy these settlements are causing was a side show. Rarely has Bush given so persuasive an impression of being detached not just from the facts but from any sort of empathy for the victims of this appalling situation.

But mainly, it looks like Bush came to Israel to speak about Iran. Bush seemed very enthused about threatening Iran from Israel. His glaring inability to articulate a basic understanding of the Palestinian-Israeli issue left seasoned Israeli journalists chuckling in disbelief at the president's replies. The local press corps noted every opportunity seized by Olmert to hitch a ride on each one of Bush's superficial comments, lauding the importance of the Bush visit, the Bush commitment to peace, and Bush's courage in confronting the region's difficulties.

Today Bush arrives in my Israeli-occupied city of al-Bireh/Ramallah. He plans to land two blocks away from my home, in a sports field that I happen to be developing as a commercial project for the nearby Friends (Quaker) School. We were notified today that our street will be one of the many that will be under 100 percent lockdown. We were advised we would be risking our lives if we went to our rooftop to watch the charade unfold. Public notices from the Palestinian police chief warned that absolutely no protests would be tolerated. In short, we were told to stay indoors. Even our local newspaper, Al-Quds, refused to publish as an advertisement a cartoon satirizing Bush's visit submitted by a civil society campaign I work with. So much for running a business, economic development, and freedom of the press. So much for Palestinian democracy too.

As an American and a Palestinian, if I could advise Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on how to greet his American peer today, I would ask him to declare the end of the Palestinian Authority, which Israel has purposefully and systematically destroyed. I would ask him to announce that the Palestinians will not accept Rambo-style diplomacy and will revert to international law as the only reference point for resolving the conflict. I would ask Abbas to request America's support for nonviolent resistance against sixty years of dispossession and forty years of military occupation by calling for a strategy of boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel until it joins the community of law-abiding nations.

But that's not all. If I were Abbas I would tell the world that the Palestinian people will remain committed to the two-state solution until the end of 2008, and after that, if the international community fails yet again to end this nightmare of occupation, the Palestinian people will return to their original strategy of calling for one democratic secular state, where Palestinians and Israelis of all religions can live in dignity and mutual respect as equals -- one person, one vote, with appropriate arrangements for cultural autonomy for all.

Sam Bahour is a business consultant and may be reached at

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Israel steals Christmas: clergy denied entry to occupied territories

Israel steals Christmas: clergy denied entry to occupied territories
Date: 27 / 12 / 2007 Time: 14:56

Bethlehem – Ma'an – Israeli travel prohibitions put a damper on this year's Christmas celebrations as Christian clergy were unable to reach their congregations in the occupied Palestinian territories.

In late October the Israeli interior ministry cancelled the multiple-entry visas that many foreign clergy possess, issuing instead single-entry visas, and sometimes completely denying access to the very birthplace of Christianity.

The Our Lady of Annunciation Catholic church in the West Bank city of Ramallah cancelled its Christmas celebrations completely, because the priest, Jordanian national Seres Lalkhlisat, could not return to the West Bank from Jordan, where he went to visit his family.

"A church without a priest; it's very hard. People call saying 'we want to hold a funeral, but there is no priest to conduct the funeral," said Anan Abu Saadeh, a teacher at the school affiliated with Our Lady of Annunciation.

Saadeh said Lalkhlisat has worked at two West Bank congregations since 2004, and used to travel back and forth from Jordan freely on his multiple-entry visa, which now has an 'X' drawn through it.

"We are waiting," said Saadeh, "they are always saying 'you have to wait' …they have still not given us a real reason."

Israeli Interior Ministry spokesperson Sabine Haddad told the Associated Press, "According to a request by security officials, we restricted the visas of the clergy." Yet this reasoning leaves Palestinian parishioners like Saadeh puzzled. "He is not a political man; he is not doing something bad," he said of the Priest.

The grassroots Campaign for the Right of Entry/Re-Entry to the Occupied Palestinian Territory says that clergy are only a few of the "tens of thousands of ordinary foreign passport holders of Palestinian and non-Palestinian origin who wish to be with their families, work or study, as well as tourists and pilgrims."

Palestine's small Christian population is shrinking, and Saadeh attributed some the much-discussed 'Christian flight' to Israeli restrictions that limit freedom of worship. "For Christian Palestinians, it's hard to see churches closing, so people are leaving," he said.

Israel controls all but one of the entry points in to the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The one Palestinian-controlled crossing, at Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, has been closed since the June due to an Israeli-led international blockade.

Amnesty International estimates that by 2006, at least 120,000 families of various religious affiliations have been denied the right to be together by Israeli travel restrictions.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

! اعياد سعيدة ! كل سنة وانتو سالمين

عيد ميلاد مجيد و عيد مبارك من رام الله

Saturday, December 15, 2007

'Palestinian Women Artists' book launch

Artists Inass Yassin and Vera Tamari standing with Rawan Sharaf (Director of al Hoash Gallery) and Reem Fadda (Director of the Palestinian Association for Contemporary Art (PACA)

We had a very successful event at the Academy the other night which was the launch of the book: "Palestinian Women Artists: the Land = the Body = the Narrative"

The Palestinian Art Court - Al Hoash published the book with the support of the Spanish General Consulate, the Spanish Cooperation Office, and the Three Cultures Foundation.

During the event, Al Hoash also launched the new calender for 2008 featuring artists from the book. The calender is great and makes a perfect gift for the upcoming Eids!

Curator Reem Fadda, academic director of the International Academy of Art-Palestine, was commissioned to be the editor and curator of the book and she has wrote an extensive essay for it.

The book features 41 Palestinian artists and is in 3 languages: Arabic, English and Spanish.
Copies of the book and the calender may be obtained through the Palestinian Art Court - Al Hoash, in Jerusalem, or the International Academy of Art-Palestine, in Ramallah (well actually in Bireh...heehee)

A packed house for the launch!

And from the press:
فنانات فلسطينيات..الارض..الجسد..الرواية) كتاب جديد بثلاث لغات
Thu Dec 13, 2007 3:10 PM GMT

رام الله (الضفة الغربية) (رويترز) - يلقي الكتاب الجديد (فنانات فلسطينيات..الارض..الجسد..الرواية) الصادر بثلاث لغات الضوء على مساهمة الفنانات الفلسطينيات في الفن البصري منذ ثلاثينات القرن الماضي الى اليوم.

ويقدم الكتاب الصادر عن مؤسسة حوش الفن الفلسطيني والذي يقع في 400 صفحة من القطع المتوسط باللغات العربية والانجليزية والاسبانية سردا لاسماء 150 فنانة وصورا ملونة لاعمال متميزة ومتعددة لاحدى واربعين منهن اضافة الى تحليل لهذه الاعمال.

ويستعرض الكتاب بالتحليل ثلاثة ابعاد في اعمال الفنانات الفلسطينيات في الاراضي الفلسطينية المحتلة وداخل اسرائيل وحتى أولئك اللواتي يعشن في المهجر في مجال الارض والجسد والرواية وعلاقة كل من هذه الابعاد بالحياة السياسية التي شهدتها الاراضي الفلسطينية منذ القرن الماضي.

ويشير الكتاب الى ارتباط الفنانة الفلسطينية بالارض "الارض مصدر الهام للعديد من الفنانات الفلسطينيات منذ اكثر من مئة عام وقد خلدت المشاهد الطبيعية الفلسطينية الغنية في لوحات زيتية لعدد من الفنانات مثل نهيل بشارة وصوفي حلبي وفاتن طوباسي وعفاف عرفات."

ويرى الكتاب "تغيرا صامتا ان لم يكن بشكل واع ومستفز من عدد من المؤثرات باتجاه العمل الفني الذي يظهر الجسد وخاصة جسد الفنانة نفسها في عدد من الاعمال."

ويوضح الكتاب ان معظم الفنانات الفلسطينيات اللواتي اتبعن هذا الاسلوب كن يعشن في اوروبا وامريكا "حيث وجدن المجتمع الذي يتقبل اظهار جسد المرأة من خلال الفن."

ويقدم الكتاب استعراضا كاملا لهذه المرحلة التي شهدت استخدام الجسد في الفن.

وتروي الفنانات الفلسطينيات من خلال اعمالهن الفنية حكاية المكان والاوضاع السياسية والاجتماعية والاقتصادية. ويقول الكتاب "قام عدد من الفنانات بانتاج مشاريع مرئية واضحة في محاولة لاعطاء وجهة نظر شخصية للمكان بكافة تعقيداته فسرد القصة بنبرة غير مجسدة اصبح عاملا يكشف وقائع اجتماعية وسياسية وصور لداخل البيت وصور شخصية وتفاصيل المكان تخلق شبكة معلومات متكاملة."

وقالت روان شرف مديرة مركز حوش الفن الفلسطيني في حفل اقيم مساء الاربعاء في الاكاديمية الفلسطينية للفن المعاصر للاعلان عن اطلاق الكتاب "اصدار الكتاب الاول في سلسلة الفن في فلسطين مشروع بدأ بحلم في مثل هذا الوقت من العام الماضي وها نحن نقدم هذا الانتاج لثقافتنا وهويتنا وحضارتنا ومستقبلنا."

وقالت ريم فضة محررة الكتاب لرويترز خلال الحفل "يقدم هذا الكتاب الذي يتناول بالتحليل فن النساء الفلسطينيات من منظور الافكار الارض والجسد والرواية ضمن ترابط."

وأضافت "نحاول من خلال هذا الكتاب عمل اضافة جدية الى المكتبة العربية بلغة فلسطينية اصلية تعبر عن الثقافة الفلسطينية تعمل على التحليل والنقد البناء وتبرز اعمال العديد من الفنانات الفلسطينيات."

ويكشف الكتاب النقاب عن حركة فنية نشطة في الاراضي الفلسطينية تعود الى فترة الثلاثينات كان للمرأة الفلسطينية دور بارز فيها.

وجاء في الكتاب "لقد مثلت الفنانة زلفى السعدي فلسطين في المعرض العربي الاول في العام 1933 في القدس ومعنى ذلك ان شكلا من البينالي او المهرجان الفني كان موجودا في فلسطين التي لم تكن مجرد دولة مشاركة بل كانت البلد المضيف لهذا الحدث.

"والذي يدل على ان فلسطين كانت منتجة للفن لدرجة تتويج ذلك بعقد مهرجان عربي...وفوق ذلك فان فنانة فلسطينية هي من مثلت فلسطين ملقية بذلك الضوء على دور المرأة (الفلسطينية) وموقعها المتقدم في المجتمع."

ويستعرض الكتاب نماذج لفنانات فلسطينيات حظين بمكانة عالمية ومنهن منى حاطوم واملي جاسر وروزليندا نشاشيبي وليلى شوا وجوليان سيرافيم "على سبيل المثال لا للحصر".

وقالت فضة "لقد حرصنا في هذا الكتاب ان يضم اجيالا مختلفة من الفنانات وان لا يقتصر على الفنانات المشهورات في وقت لا نستطيع فيه ذكر جميع الفنانات."

وقالت الفنانة التشكيلية الشابة ايناس ياسين لرويترز خلال مشاركتها في الحفل "هذا الكتاب مرجع مهم باللغة العربية وخصوصية هذا الكتاب انه يتحدث عن النساء الفلسطينيات في الداخل والخارج والشتات اللواتي تتنوع اعمالهن ويمثل ارشفة لهذه الاعمال."

فيما قالت الفنانة التشكيلية فيرا تماري المحاضرة في جامعة بيرزيت وهي في العقد السادس من العمر خلال كلمة لها في حفل الافتتاح "هذا الكتاب مرجع للفن الفلسطيني وهو شامل من انتاج فلسطيني وخبرات فلسطينية شابة ويضم عددا كبيرا من الفنانات."

وقال الفنان التشكيلي خالد الحواراني المحاضر في الاكاديمية الفلسطينية للفن المعاصر لرويترز "هذا الكتاب يقدم اطلاله بالصور على فن المرأة الفلسطينية التي تعيش بظروف خاصة بسبب الاحتلال وكنت اتمنى ان يكون الكتاب بشكل عام عن الفن ولكنه خطوة جيدة."

وأضاف "كون الكتاب بأكثر من لغة فانه يقدم رسالة للعالم ان الفن موجود في فلسطين منذ زمن."

وجاء في مقدمة الكتاب الذي صدر بدعم من القنصلية الاسبانية في القدس ومؤسسة الثقافات الثلاث في حوض المتوسط الاسبانية "يأمل حوش الفن الفلسطيني ان يشكل اصدار هذا الكتاب نقطة مضيئة في عالم الفن والفنانات الفلسطينيات وان يصبح مرجعا هاما وقيما لمحبي الفن...والمهتمين في الاستكشاف ومعرفة الفنانات الفلسطينيات وانتاجهن الفني."

من علي صوافطة

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Coptic Church. Why?

I have been wondering for some time now why on earth someone is constructing a massive Coptic Church in Ramallah. Though we have tons of all denominations of Christian Palestinians, we do not have any Copts.

If someone can please tell me who is building this and for what purpose that would be great.

Sunday, December 09, 2007


ramallah is cold, cold, cold...
so staying warm and reading is what i am up to
had to post this. its hilarious and so true!
this is just brilliant! thanks apsara.

for full article go to:

"One now recalls those early days of sparse email traffic much as the cokehead recollects the first bumps of powder snorted sweetly up his nose. How quickly pleasure turned to compulsion and unhappiness! Nothing was left, in the end, but anxiety (who am I forgetting to reply to?) and guilt (I know who). And yet the compulsive emailer, addict of the insubstantial, is ultimately even worse off than the substance abuser: no clinic for him to check into. Western civilization has become a giant inbox; it will swell and groan but never be empty till it crashes."

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

SAVE Shar3 il Maktabeh

Please come to this important meeting tomorrow if you are here.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

the last day of Al Bardaouni's

Sadly the oldest restaurant in Ramallah - Al Bardauni - served its last customers today. This restaurant has been open since before the Israeli occupation. Ibrahim Boulous opened it in 1962. It is very famous and people from all over the Arab world that used to come to Ramallah pre-Israeli Occupation know of this restaurant. Two famous guests include Jane Fonda and Robert DiNiro.
Its so depressing to lose this historic and important place...they are planning on building a big huge ugly building full of offices in its place....
good bye...

i took one of their sugar packets and a coaster....reem brought one of the plants from their garden to our garden at the Academy.

if you want to see some old photos of the place please go to:

There are some really cool photos which I was going to post here but there were copyrights all over everything so I figured I am not allowed to

Monday, November 26, 2007

the charade that is Annapolis

Frankly it is just to distant and irrelevant and removed from reality for me to take seriously. For those of you who are naive enough to eat up the hype here are some excerpts and links:

from Karma Nabulsi's article in the Guardian:,,2216914,00.html

We have not given up

The Palestinian people will not yield to the west's cynical pressure on them to surrender

If you want bad symbolism, you need look no further than the venue. The US naval academy of Annapolis is the current representation of unrestrained global supremacy, from where young cadets are being sent forth to occupy Arab land by force of arms. Appropriate place, then, for the US to host the meeting between Palestinian officials and the Israeli state, with every important government and international institution in obedient attendance. No one has misunderstood the nature of this meeting or is vaguely fooled by what is taking place. What we have at Annapolis is yet another ultimatum to the Palestinian people to surrender their sovereign rights.

The language of the Middle East peace process has become utterly weary, intellectually bankrupted; embarrassing. The tarnished trickery of those tired catchphrases - "last chance for peace", "painful compromises", "moderates against extremists" - is now worn so thin a child would not be taken in. There is no peace process, and hasn't been one for a very long time. It is no secret this conference won't bring an improvement in the intolerable status quo. It is a meeting to legitimise that status quo.

from Laila El-Haddad's article in The Electronic Intifada, 23 November 2007

Annapolis, as seen from Gaza

The conference simply generates new and ever-more superfluous and intricate promises which Israeli leaders can commit to and yet somehow evade. An exercise in legal obfuscation at its best: we won't build new settlements, we'll just expropriate more land and expand to account for their "natural growth," until they resemble towns, not colonies, and have them legitimized by a US administration looking for some way to save face. And then we'll promise to raze outposts.

Each step in the evolution of Israel's occupation -- together with the efforts to sustain it and the language to describe it -- has become ever more sophisticated, strategic and euphemistic.

from Mazin Qumsiyeh

What happens at and after Annapolis

We expect accolades for Olmert merely saying Israel will freeze settlement expansions except in East Jerusalem and the large settlement blocks (the Road map demands a freeze in all Settlement growth including for "natural growth"). The Israeli paper Haaretz actually summed up well "According to the Israeli government sources, the Americans asked Israel whether it preferred to announce a settlement freeze or outpost evacuations. 'Of the two, a settlement freeze is easier than evacuating the outposts, because this only involves a declaration, not a confrontation with settlers in the field,' explained one [government official]." Olmert, like Sharon, will be labeled by the pandering US politicians "a man of peace". The apartheid (hafrada in Hebrew) state will be showered with more US aid (stolen from US citizens to satisfy the Israel lobby). Mahmoud Abbas will be covered in the media only when he talks about how bad is Hamas and thus will be labeled "moderate". Everyone will be expected to attack Iran verbally and soon in other ways and Israel and the US still hope to build a block of "moderates" against Iran by giving the illusions of progress on the issue of Palestine. The daughter of the terrorist who oversaw the bombing of the King David hotel will be praised for speaking eloquently about combating "Arab" and "Muslim" terrorism and thus advance her ambition to move from Israeli foreign minister to a future Prime Minister. It will be a great photo opportunity for all attending. Meanwhile, Gaza will continue to be starved (a creeping genocide) and four million Iraqis and seven million Palestinians refugees and displaced people will get angrier.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Earthquake hits Palestine at 11:15 Tuesday

Bethlehem – Ma'an – A an earthquake registering 4.5 on the Richter Scale shook the West Bank at 11:15am on Tuesday.

Palestinians in the West Bank and Jerusalem said they felt the earthquake for a matter of seconds.

Rif'at Sbeih from the southern West Bank town of Al-Khadir told Ma'an that he felt the earthquake in his home, describing his fear as "everything was shaking for a few seconds."

Ma'an's correspondent in the northern West Bank city of Nablus said that residents felt the earthquake, with some even taking to the streets out of fear.

No injuries or damage were reported.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

يوم الاستقلال

I woke up in a bad mood today and tried to ignore the fact that today is our so-called "Independence" Day. I don't think it is necessary for me to expound on the magnitude of the irony of that.

I headed out to the center of town and tried not to remember what happened to me and my sister last year on this day.

I saw Raed, my favorite policeman directing traffic and I decided to stop and just enjoy. No matter what is going on, seeing him in the manara just makes me happy and changes my mood. Always.
I leave you with this short video clip of him directing traffic (filmed on my crappy little digital camera bess malash)

(By the way on November 4th he was awarded one of the Palestine Prize for Excellence and Creativity by the PA)

Monday, November 12, 2007

3rd Anniversary of the Passing of Yasser Arafat

Just came back from the commemorative ceremony for Arafat. My friend Ahmed Habash performed a live sand animation entitled "From the Memory of the Sand" with live music on oud by Jamil Sayeh to a packed house.

Then Rashid Masharawi screened his film "From the Diaries of the Siege" which is an intimate portrait of Arafat shot during the seige of 2002. It was really emotional to watch scenes of the invasion now 5 years after living it... in a theater full of all of us who lived it...all together. I can't believe that was 5 years ago...

The night ended with the announcement of the winners of the "Yasser Arafat Achievement Award". 30 people representing the residents of Bilin received the award on stage for their weekly protests and peaceful resistance against Israel's apartheid wall.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Carreta Nagua, Siglo 21

Check out my good friend Ricardo's animation! He just presented this TRANSITIO_MX02 the Festival of Video and Electronic Arts in Mexico City. He presented this piece in a rickshaw, offering free rides to everyone in the colonial park-Alameda Central and only asked in return that passengers watched the animation.

For more information on his piece please go to:

Friday, November 09, 2007

Yazeed, me, and the Qalqilya Zoo

Yazeed and I decided to head out to the Qalqilya Zoo today. Today was the first time Yazeed has been able to drive his car out of Ramallah and over to Qalqilya in 7 years. (Obviously he hasn't been able to due to the Israeli closures and restrictions on freedom of movement)
I think the last time I was in Qalqilya was in 2004 to document the wall which has completely encircled the town and totally cut it off from its agricultural lands, has separated families and
crushed vital trade links.
The zoo is actually really interesting in terms of public space. There is a playground for the kids, a swimming pool, families and friends gathered in large circles sitting in the gardens socializing and eating together. Its incredibly relaxing and a very calm and peaceful atmosphere. Its also amazingly kitsch, my favorite thing being the wall made out of animal bones inside the museum, sort of reminded me of the Capuchin Bone Church in Rome (its made out of the bones of 4000 monks).

I have been obsessed with the Zoo for some time now for several reasons. When the Israelis entered Qalqilya during Operation Defensive Shield in 2002, the male giraffe was killed. Gunfire, tear-gas and explosions were all around the zoo and he panicked and ran frenziedly in circles around his cage ending up slamming his head into a metal bar and he fell to the ground and died. His mate was pregnant and ended up miscarrying from depression. The zoo's doctor decided to stuff both Brownie (the male giraffe) and the child. Three zebras died from inhaling Israeli forces' tear gas during an invasion. He stuffed them too.

Slowly this living zoo is turning into a collection of mummified animals frozen in time. The section of the zoo that hosts these dead animals has become a major attraction. (By the way they built the structure to host the giraffe around him after he was stuffed). The symbolism of this and how it reflects our own situation....our towns being slowly choked to death... is too much.

Brownie is actually on exhibit in Germany at this years Documenta. German artist Peter Friedl visited the zoo and asked to borrow the giraffe for the exhibition. Personally I was really disapointed when I saw Brownie in Germany. He is just standing there in the middle of the exhibition hall, you have no idea who he is, where he came from, what the story behind him is...nothing.

The most depressing part of the day was witnessing the Syrian bear desperately trying to bang his way out of his cage.

No comment

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Ramallah Doldroms

Looks like we are finally getting some much needed rain. Nothing much to report. The political situation is so depressing and I don't even want to talk about it. I would just be repeating myself anyways.

In short, I have been mainly consumed with teaching my video class.

Some good news is the "Three Jubran" Majaz concert which took place at the Ramallah Cultural Palace last Thursday. They were amazing and it was broadcast live on al-Jazeera. Best of all was that Jawwal fully funded the whole concert! It was the first time that the Jubran brothers play here with everything supported financially by Palestinian money. (Usually cultural events here have European or American funding but this one didn't!).

Some very sad news is that al-Bardauni's is going to close at the end of the month! (this is the oldest restaurant in Ramallah). It has been open since the 50's. In its place they say they are going to build a huge building full of offices. There are already initiatives to try to stop this tragic loss. More on those later.

Lastly, something has got to be done about the toxic fumes from the bloody garbage dump. It is under the responsibility of the Ramallah Municipality. It is horrible. Last night I couldn't even work in my house because my eyes were burning so badly from the smoke. It seems like half the people in my hara have headaches. We need to do something about this. This tradition of burning garbage needs to be stopped. Its dangerous and toxic.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

the Jerusalem show

This exhibition is taking place in various locations all over Jerusalem. The last tour is Tuesday October 30th at 5 PM so if you are joining meet at Al-Ma'mal Foundation, New Gate.

From 6:30 - 8:30 I will be screening my film ENTRY DENIED (a concert in Jerusalem) at the Tile Factory.

Here is a description of my piece:

Austrian nationals Marwan Abado, Peter Rosmanith, and Franz Hautzinger were invited to perform in Jerusalem as part of the 2003 12th Jerusalem Festival -- Songs of Freedom concert series organized by Yabous Productions. Abado, who is of Palestinian origin, was officially invited by the Austrian Embassy in Tel Aviv as well as the United Nations Development Program. He obtained a visa through the Israeli Foreign Ministry in Vienna prior to his arrival.
On July 20th, 2003 Marwan Abado arrived at Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion airport and was immediately detained by the Israeli authorities. After being held for 24 hours in the airport prison, Israeli Security cancelled his visa and he was put on the next plane back to Vienna. He was denied entry into Israel for "security reasons". No further explanation was given.
ENTRY DENIED (a concert in Jerusalem), 2003, was filmed in an empty theater in Vienna, where I asked Marwan and his band to perform the concert exactly as it was to have taken place in Jerusalem, as if they were in Jerusalem.

FOR MORE INFORMATION on the Jerusalem show - artists, works, locations, and partners please go to:

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Leone d’oro ~ Golden Lion

Think with the Senses – Feel with the Mind Biennale Art 52nd International Art Exhibition Awards of the 52nd International Art Exhibition

Venice, October 17th, 2007

The awarding ceremony of the 52nd International Art Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia, chaired by Davide Croff, has taken place at the Teatro alle Tese dell’Arsenale di Venezia; more than 300 international guests from the national participations and the collateral events, artists and professionals have attended the event. For the first time ever, the awarding ceremony has been organised a month before the closing date of the exhibition, which has been Italy’s most visited art event, with more than 232,000 visitors in about 100 opening days.

While the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement has been assigned by the Board of Directors of the Biennale di Venezia to the artist Malick Sidibé (Soloba, Mali, 1936) at the Giardini della Biennale on June 10th, on the occasion of the official opening to the public, the International Jury, proposed by the 52nd International Art Exhibition Robert Storr and formed by Manuel J. Borja-Villel (president), Iwona Blazwick, Ilaria Bonacossa, Abdellah Karroum, and José Roca has today assigned four Golden Lions and two Honourable Mentions:

Golden Lion to an art critic or an art historian for his or her contribution to contemporary art: “The award for Art Criticism is given for a body of writing characterised by an uncompromising and scholarly attitude towards Contemporary Art practice and to the history of art. The Jury also recognizes in this work a profound knowledge of art from the ‘60 and ’70, and the articulation of the historical avant-gardes in the context of art today. The Golden Lion to an art critic or art historian for his or her contribution to Contemporary Art is awarded to Benjamin Buchloh.”

Honourable Mention to a national pavilion: “The Jury has cited for Honourable Mention a Pavilion that offers an insightful and subtly humorous investigation into the notion of the pavilion and the meaning of national identity, engaging the spectator within a compelling narrative. This special citation is given to the Lithuanian Pavilion featuring the artists Nomeda & Gediminas Urbonas.”

Golden Lion for the best national participation: The Golden Lion for an outstanding national participation is being given to a Pavilion where architecture and cultural history are deployed to generate intelligent and poetic relations between content, visual language and strucural display. The Jury also considers important the artist’s approach to modernity, its utopias and failures in the context of a shared history. The Golden Lion for the best national participation is awarded to the Hungarian Pavilion featuring the artist Andreas Fogarasi.”

Golden Lion to an artist under 40 exhibited in the central international exhibition or in the national participations: “The award for an artist under 40 is given for a practice that takes as its subject exile in general and the Palestinian issue in particular. Without recourse to exoticism, the work on display in the central Pavilion at the Giardini establishes and expands a crossover between cinema, archival documentation, narrative and sound. The Golden Lion to an artist under 40 overall, is given to Emily Jacir.”

Honourable Mention to an artist exhibited in the central international exhibition: “There is an installation in the Arsenale that impressed the Jury with its content, presentation and particular relevance to its location. The Jury wishes to give an honourable mention to an artist whose aesthetic projects span a diverse range of strategies, and in recognition of the provocative links he suggests between culture, politics and symbolic representation. The artist given an Honourable Mention for his participation in the central International Exhibition is Nedko Solakov.”

Golden Lion to an artist exhibited in the central international exhibition: There is a body of work in the Arsenale that presents just some examples of a long and substantial career. The artist in question has continued a critical practice in the context of an often antagonistic political and social situation. He is given this award not only for his ethical attitude and political commitment, but also for a contemporary aesthetic relevance that is unexpected for a practice that spans six decades. The Golden Lion to an artist exhibited in the central International Exhibition is given to León Ferrari.”

Saturday, October 13, 2007

new york city

i am in nyc after 2 weeks out in wyoming writing.
it was incredible out there - i will keep that for me.

flying over nyc...brooklyn...queens.. and staring out the window of the plane down at the city was amazing - it looked denser then i have ever seen it.
so so dense compared to where i been.
thousands of twinkling lights like stars below me.

i love new york. crazy fucking new york city.
it just doesn't give a shit when you leave or when you come back.
and you never come back in the way you left.
you come in one door and you leave through another.

will be back in palestine in a few days.
if any of you are in jerusalem on the 24th please come out to my film screening

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Ballad of the Whiskey Robber

i am out west writing.
one of the other writers out here with us is Julian Rubinstein who wrote:

Ballad of the Whiskey Robber: A True Story of Bank Heists, Ice Hockey, Transylvanian Pelt Smuggling, Moonlighting Detectives, and Broken Hearts

it is the story of Attila Ambrus which is so damn incredible (its my new favorite bank robber story). This guy used to be seen drinking a whiskey at a bar prior to his robberies, he never ever hurt anyone in his robberies and apparently he had some pretty amazing disguises, he used to give female tellers flowers right before robbing them, and also send the police wine bottles.

Ambrus is currently serving a 17 year sentence in a maximum security prison. Earlier this year Julian went back to the prison to see him...

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

GAZATON archive




Sunday, September 23, 2007

Palestine Revolution Cinema 1968-1982

I curated a selection of shorts - the Palestine Revolution Cinema (1968 - 1982) last February and it has been on tour in the US since. The next venue is in Boston on October 7th.
Here is what I wrote on the selection:

Film still from Mustafa Abu Ali's They Don' t Exist (1974)

Notes on Palestinian Revolution Cinema

The New York Arab and South Asian Film Festival will pay tribute to a group of filmmakers who have made significant contributions to various categories of Palestinian Revolution Cinema between the years of 1968 and 1982. Given the current political environment in Palestine, Iraq, and Lebanon in 2007, it is especially important to screen these films which have slipped through the cracks of history. They are a visual testament to past events and offer us a glimpse of history from the perspective of the people who actually lived it, a perspective not sanctioned by the official US/European meta-narrative of the region. In the context of last summer's Israeli invasion of Lebanon, screening Monica Maurer's film Born Out of Death of the aftermath of the Israeli bombardment of Beirut in 1981 has an ever more present urgency. How does our frame of reference of the current dire and desperate situation for Palestinians shift when we see the 1974 Israeli destruction of the Palestinian refugee camp Nabatiya in Mustafa Abu Ali's film They Do Not Exist?

Film stills from Khadijeh Abu Ali's
Children Nonetheless (1980)

A brief history

In 1968 in Jordan, the Palestine Liberation Organization founded Aflam Filasteen (Palestine Films). In the beginning, they focused on documenting the struggle through photography. Mustafa Abu Ali, a director with the Jordanian film department, along with photographer Hani Jawharia and cinematographer Sulafa Jadallah (incidentally the first camerawoman in the Arab world), were the force behind it. In 1969, they produced their first film, No to the Option of Surrender which was filmed by Mustafa Abu Ali and edited by Salah Abu Hannood. The film recorded the demonstrations taking place in Amman against the Rogers Plan. Also in 1969, at the invitation of al-Fateh, Jean Luc-Godard traveled to the refugee camps in Jordan and spent time with the film unit. Upon his departure from Amman he donated his video camera, (with a recorder/player vtr -- one of the first models of video) to the group. [*] The first cine camera, an Ariflex BL 16, was provided to the group by Abu Jihad, Khalil Al Wazeer, a Fateh Central Committee member. [**] Previous to this they had been borrowing cameras to do their work. Another key film and the last film from the period in Jordan was With Soul and Blood(1971), filmed and directed by Jawharia and Abu Ali. It was shot during the events of Black September in 1970 when the Jordanian Army massacred Palestinians.

After the horrific events of Black September, Mustafa Abu Ali, along with the rest of the PLO left Jordan and went to Beirut. Hani Jawharia and Sulafa Jadallah were unable to get out of Jordan. Once in Lebanon, cinema activity intensified as other Palestinian factions like the People's Front for the Liberation of Palestine and the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine started using film as a tool for liberation. At one point in 1973, there was an attempt to form a "Palestinian Cinema Group" which had no allegiance to any faction, but it was only able to produce one film: Scenes of Occupation in Gaza, directed by Mustafa Abu Ali. It was not until 1973 that they actually began to put their names on the films, because their intent was not to be "filmmakers" but to make films for the "revolution". [*] It was in Beirut in 1974 that Mustafa Abu Ali made the film we are screening in this festival: They Do not Exist. Others who joined after the move to Beirut to produce films documenting resistance include Palestinian painter Ismail Shamout, and Iraqi filmmaker Kassem Hawal whose fiction film Return to Haifa (1981) we are screening. Two films that documented the resistance fighting Israel in Lebanon include Kafr Shoba (1975) directed by Iraqi Samir Nimr, and Guns are United, (1973) directed by Lebanese Rafiq Hajjar.
Film still from Kais al-Zubaidi's The Visit (1970)
Film still from Kais al-Zubaidi's The Visit (1970)

Meanwhile in the 1960s Syria had become a center for exiled Palestinians as well as pan-Arabists and it was there that the Iraqi filmmaker Kais al-Zubaidi focused his lens on the socio-political situation of the Palestinians. We will screen two films he made during this period and which are both Syrian productions: Away from Home (1969) and The Visit (1970). Kais al-Zubaidi also worked with the PLO film unit in Beirut intermittently. Most recently, Kais has published an excellent anthology called Palestine in the Cinema (2006). It is an archive of the history of Palestinian cinema and lists over 800 films produced by Palestinian, Arab and non-Arab artists about Palestine and the Palestinian people.

Over a period of fourteen years the PLO Film Unit recorded Palestinian history and created films. They documented military actions, revolutionary events, the Palestinian resistance, everyday life in the refugee camps and they promoted the Palestinian national cause. The film unit received filmmakers and writers from all over the world including Argentina, France, Chile, Cuba, and Italy. Some like Monica Maurer, featured in our festival, came to document life and make films in solidarity with the Palestinians. "They used to be amazed that we Palestinians were in the middle of a revolution, of a struggle and we had cinema." [*] Unlike the national cinema that emerged out of Cuba after the Cuban Revolution, and out of Iran after the Islamic Revolution, the Palestinian national Cinema was created and documented life during the revolution. Khadija Abu Ali told me that Cuba's Santiago Alvarez met Mustafa Abu Ali at a film festival in Algeria and exclaimed, "You are the first among all revolutions who had cinema during the struggle". [*] Mustafa Abu Ali recounted:
I remember Alvarez expressing his extreme admiration of my film "Zionist Aggression," saying: "It has achieved the maximum expression with the least means". He was so kind and he insisted on giving me a present of 22 bottles of fine Cuban Rum, which was all he had with him. After a long argument in which he tried to convince me to take them all and if not all, at least half, I accepted two bottles. I never met anybody with such genuinely warm feelings like Santiago Alvarez. [**]
Many of these films were screened and won awards at international festivals between 1969 and 1976 like the Leipzig International Festival for documentaries and short movies, the Palestine Film Festival in Baghdad, the Festival of Young Arab Cinema in Damascus and the Carthage Film Festival. In Lebanon as elsewhere, they had film screenings, they donated footage to whoever wanted to use it, and they also sent out newsreel footage for film festivals to screen prior to films in the same vein as the "War Diaries" presentation in this festival.

Film stills from Monica Maurer's Born Out of Death (1981)

The lost Palestinian Film Archive

After the first Israeli aerial bombardment of Beirut in 1981, filmmaker Khadija Abu Ali began to worry about the security of the archives, so they rented a safer place in Hamra in a basement with air conditioning. [*] It contained thousands of films stored in cans that filled three rooms of floor to ceiling shelves. [*] It was a record of Palestinian history full of political cinema, documentation of the struggle, the resistance movements, daily life and precious historical footage. In between bombing raids during the Israeli siege on Beirut, some of the film unit risked their lives to preserve some of the footage by making their way to the archive and relocating some of the footage. [*] Then there was the 1982 Israeli bombardment on Beirut, the PLO was expelled and the film unit dispersed as they had to relocate. Two years later the Palestinian cinema archive disappeared. For 25 years the archives have been missing and no one knows what has happened to them and whether they were stolen, buried, burned or lost. There have been several individual initiatives over the years to find and uncover the archive, but the effort has been too dispersed. The individuals who have sought out these films in isolation reflect the deep state of fragmentation and the very complicated condition of Palestinians today.

In an effort to resist the erasure of cinematic history and Palestinian memory from the region, we present you with this small selection of films. They preserve a history, they document an era and events, and they show us fragments of both Palestinian narratives as well as the larger Arab narrative.

I want to thank Khadija Abu Ali for all the help she gave me as well as for her endless generosity in sharing her life as well as the lives and histories of these films with me. I also want to thank Kais al-Zubaidi and Mustafa Abu Ali for sharing their insights and anecdotes about these films and their stories with me. Lastly, thanks to all three for reviewing my text and correcting my errors.