Artists Talk: Israel/Palestine: Politics and Art in Sheikh Jarrah


Here is an another “Words without Borders” article by Azareen Van der Vliet Oloomi and Chana M about the Sheikh Jarrah Solidarity Movement, Active-stills and Culture-guerrilla. The article shows different ways to resist the power structure.

I was interview by Azareen and Chana and talked about Culture Guerrilla movement and the poetry and photograph anthology that i edited with Active-stills called “Lo-Nazov” (We will not leave). This book deals with the Palestinian  struggle in Sheikh Jarrah in particular and in East-Jerusalem in General.


Poets, artists, activists visit embattled Beduin village

There is a new subversive group called “Guerrilla Culture”. It’s a group of young poets* and artists who perform in various acts of performance in areas of social conflicts. They protested against the Gaza War (2009) and you can find them in different struggles between Israel and Palestine. Their main act is to read poetry. As we know already the media is political. Sometimes the media excludes important topics from its agenda. Guerrilla Culture uses the disruption between “Culture” and “News” in order to make new items for the media.  Their mutual collaboration with the different struggles re-writes the public and cultural sphere. They spread solidarity and on the culture level their impact is big. Young poets look up to be part of the political poetry who wins more prestige because of the subversive Guerrilla acts.

Their new act is the “The Poetry of the Bedouin”. The poet Daniel Oz is the initiator for this act of solidarity between Culture Guerrilla members and the up-rooted residents of the village of Al Arakib (located in the Negev – the south of Israel – Near Beer Sheva).

On the 27 of July the Jewish National Fund decided to plant a forest instead of the Al Arakib village. Elite Police squads accompanied by hundred Israeli policemen came and demolished all the area. At that night 400 of the Al Arakib resident became homeless. The activist and residents try to re-build the area but the police came and destroyed it and arrest few of its activists.

Oz is saying (Ynet, 16.8) that “Israel is a state of compromise between two poles. On one hand the Zionist idea symbolizes the making of the Jewish refuges sovereign in their country. On the other hand its Israeli-Palestinian citizens want to get equal right in the Israeli sovereignty. Over sixty years we never compromise and our democracy is paying the deadly price. The Bedouin is part of the land and they are also Israeli citizens. Israel didn’t earn anything from the annexation and expulsion of its Bedouin Citizens.” Oz concludes: “There must be other way to conduct rather than using force”.

Oz is part of a new generation of writers who feels that change is must come by joining struggles together. But these acts of solidarity are still in the margins of the culture and public sphere.  Nevertheless we should look on the hidden currents in the Israeli society and hear what on their mind because maybe deep inside of them we can hear a seed of hope.

*I’m part of this group and one of its founders.

Good article by Ben Hartman on “Jerusalem Post” (22/08/2010) about our Cultural Guerrilla solidarity with Al Arakib residents who have seen their community dismantled by the Israel Lands Administration four times over the past month.

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