Cultural resistance is a non-violent form of assertion and resistance

Palestine Updates 14/2017

Editorial Comment

With a rich and diverse culture that goes deep into their roots as a people, Palestinians are increasingly discerning new cultural expressions of tradition and popular culture to ignite hope into the resistance movement against the occupation. These are neither neutral nor violent. They are a form of assertion that engenders courage based on pride of Palestinian culture. They assert the claim that Palestine is a land to which they belong and to which they have contributed cultural assets in many forms. It is not for sale to a hideous occupation that is militaristic and vicious in its very core and base.

Cultural resistance in the Palestinian context must be seen as infusing facets of arts, literature, and traditional practices to challenge any form of injustice as propped up by oppressive systems.  It affirms that resistance is a way of reclaiming the humanity of the oppressed and constitutes a celebration through creative expressions which are as serious- even militant- as they are in enhancing self-esteem. It has been synonymous with Palestinian music and song since the forcible expulsion of Palestinian Arabs from their villages in 1948, a series of events that is referred to as the nakba, or catastrophe. For many composers and singers in the greater Arab world Palestinian crisis has and continues to figure in their work as a symbol of the struggle to establish political sovereignty and the commitment to creating modern forms of Arab culture that are distinct from Western influence.

Musical resistance during the first Intifada (1987-1993) was practiced through both the abstinence of music and emerging directions in Palestinian music. For many living in the occupied West Bank and Gaza during the Intifada, musical performance was an expression of joy that violated the experience of living conditions under occupation and the everyday losses of militant resistance.

Palestine Updates shares with readers’ some forms of cultural expression through which Palestinians are resisting the occupation. These are only some of the forms that are popular. For example, we do not mention food or tourism as an instrument of resistance. Food has become an occasion when visitors and hosts share time together to enjoy the specifics of Arab food. It becomes a time for long and instructive conversations when the Palestinian narrates their experience of life under the occupation. Most importantly, it allows for the Palestinian to counter the western media-driven myth and image that the Arab is crude and lacks in culture. The lexicon of food defines food culture as “practices, attitudes, and beliefs as well as the networks and institutions surrounding the production, distribution, and consumption of food”. It also includes a groups’ definition of what items can be food, what is tasty, healthy, and socially appropriate for specific subgroups or individuals. In the case of Palestine, Israel threatens food security by grabbing fertile lands and constructing settlements. It steals natural resources, deforests, destroys essential fruits, and food crops that are basic to Palestinian cuisine. It is an assault on occupation and is designed to denigrate livelihood and culture in one shot.

Alternative tourism in Palestine seeks to affirm Palestinian culture while, in the same breath, offering the traveler the truth about the reality. It invites the traveler or pilgrim to “come and see” the whole truth about Palestine and what Israel is doing to demean the Palestinian people.

Palestine Update will occasionally bring out these aspects in future editions.

In solidarity

Ranjan Solomon
Hip-hop group creates new resistance pattern
Carrying a pair of borrowed speakers and an MP3 player, a group of 13-year-olds cut through the narrow, graffiti-stained alleyways of the Dheisheh refugee camp, rushing past painted murals of Palestinians killed by Israeli forces.
Upon reaching an abandoned, half-demolished building, they plugged their speakers into an electricity outlet next door and began to rap.

That was more than a decade ago, when five young Palestinians formed Bethlehem’s first-ever hip-hop group, in an effort to express their struggles in the town’s largest refugee camp. Now in their mid-20s, the group known as Palestine Street has evolved to teach their skills to young Palestinians.
Read more about Palestine Street on

Resourceful Palestinian turns wastepaper to bricks
With basic tools, 43-year-old Mohamed Abu Khamis is turning wastepaper into bricks that can be used to build — or rebuild — Palestinian homes. Abu Khamis, who resides in the West Bank city of Qalqilya, has asked Palestinian officials to patent his bricks, saying he has invented an entirely novel form of building material. His modest workshop sits atop the roof of his house. His bricks serve three purposes: they are a means of eliminating wastepaper; they serve to reduce the stifling humidity of summer; and they would — if properly marketed — provide a new source of income for him and his family.
Read more on the anadolu agency website.

Palestinian peace activists re-establish Bab al-Shams; Israeli forces destroy it

Dozens of Palestinian peace activists, along with Israeli and international supporters, gathered in East Jerusalem Friday to erect tents and try to re-establish the peace village Bab al-Shams that was built in 2013 and destroyed that same year by Israeli forces.The activists say they chose this day to carry out their action because it is Inauguration Day in the US, and the incoming President has vowed to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv, changing decades of US policy recognizing that the status of Jerusalem should be negotiated in future peace talks. This move by the incoming US President would essentially negate all Palestinian claims to the city of Jerusalem.

Read more on the Middle East Monitor website

Palestine’s new generation of creative resistance

“I joined (the demonstration) because I was afraid to lose anyone I loved,” said Ahed Tamimi, a 15-year-old girl who has stood up and fought against Israeli soldiers in the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh for the past seven years.
In almost all of the pictures and videos captured in Nabi Saleh, women can be seen everywhere in the march. “Women compose and breed our society. Without women, we will not be here. So it is important to have their voices heard in every occasion,” said Bassem Tamimi, father of Ahed and one of the main organizers of the protest.
“I felt afraid in the beginning. But now I feel strong and confident. I never feel weak for being a woman because we are part of this family. I can’t be silent in front of my rights. My dignity doesn’t allow me to see soldiers stealing my land and hurting my family,” added Ahed. She continued to tell us that she plans to study law and is determined to be a lawyer because she can “protect my family if they are detained and also protect my lands using International law from theft by Israelis”

Read more on the China post website.

In resistance and creativity, the Occupied Palestinians find hope

The village of Nabi Saleh is a story of resistance in the face of theft and violence. Rawabi encapsulates the vision of a neo-liberal pacified Palestine. And then there is Gaza…On a warm spring evening in the occupied West Bank Bassem Tamimi was looking over his collection of new plants — fruit trees, oleanders, climbing roses, jasmine, mandevillea — and planning exactly where he would put each one in the freshly dug earth next to the old olive and fig trees beside his house. Such quiet forward-looking domestic pleasure is an everyday scene anywhere else, but in the village of Nabi Salah it is a story of resistance in the face of theft and violence. Village gardens here are typically marked with decorations strung between trees from hundreds or thousands of spent tear gas canisters from the Israeli military’s weekly attempts to stop the regular Friday protest marches through the village which have gone on for six years.

Read more on the informed comment website.

Palestinian Creative Resistance: Narrating Boldly from the Exit

The need to talk about the Nakba, the Arabic word for catastrophe which signifies the establishment and enduring project of the settler colonial state of Israel as a continuous and ongoing process – and not as a past event – was underscored recently in Dr. Ramzy Baroud’s article published in the Palestine Chronicle in early 2016. According to Baroud, the Nakba “is an ongoing story, a journey that never ended at a psychological nor practical level … exile for Palestinians is not a specific time or place, but a cyclical process that is experienced by every single Palestinian” which often goes unnoticed and unspoken in the West.  The transformative potential of Palestinian creative resistance is in the telling of the ongoing Nakba by the Freedom Theatre (TFT; in Jenin, Palestine. Creating a means and a space to resist and subvert the powerful myths of Zionist storytelling, the narratives that are spoken point directly to the logics of settler colonialism.

Read more on the website  

There is no easy walk to freedom

Maia Mural Brigade” is a multi-media public-art project with artists, activists and youth from Palestine and around the world in Gaza, occupied Palestine. By partnering with on-the-ground activist organizations in Gaza including the Middle East Children’s Alliance (MECA), MAIA Mural Brigade uses art to ignite concrete action for environmental justice. In 2011, the MAIA Mural Brigade collaborated with Estria Foundation’s #WaterWrites project and MECA. To date, 9 murals have been painted across Gaza. All but one are located at the sites of water purification and desalination systems being installed by the Middle East Children’s Alliance, providing clean water to more than 50,000 children.

Read more on the creative 

Gaza- End the blockade

Read more on the  creative resistance website

Over the Wall

Read more on the creative resistance website

Prints of Palestine’: Weaving Palestinian heritage into contemporary fashion

Jerusalem-born designer Natalie Tahhan hopes to revive traditional Palestinian embroidery with a modern twist in her collection ‘Prints of Palestine’. By weaving unique historical patterns into elegant modern styles, Natalie Tahhan hopes to demonstrate the diversity of traditional Palestinian embroidery and its importance within Palestinian culture and identity.

Tahhan’s latest and first solo collection ‘Prints of Palestine’ highlights historical motifs of Jerusalem, Hebron, Gaza, Jaffa and Ramallah, redefining Palestinian embroidery into contemporary fashion prints with the designer’s own interpretation of the art.

In pre-1948 Palestine, embroidery was a traditional craft practiced mostly by village women as a way of preserving their identity. Mothers would teach their daughters their unique patterns and techniques, creating styles specific to certain regions and villages. Palestinian women in the 19th and early 20th centuries mostly wore clothes with handcrafted rich and colourful embroidery designs, influenced by basic geometric shapes such as squares and triangles, as well as ancient mythology that dates as far back as the Canaanites.

Read more on the new arab website.