Palestine in the first quarter of 2024: cultural mourning over genocide

Ramallah (UNA/WAFA)

The Palestinian News and Information Agency “Wafa”, in cooperation with the Federation of Arab News Agencies “Fana”, publishes a report on the repercussions of the aggression on cultural life in Palestine. This is its text.:

Cultural life in Palestine was paralyzed in the first quarter of the current year 2024, due to the genocide that the Gaza Strip was subjected to, since the seventh of last October.

The aggression took over the very few cultural events that were held inside the country, and the cultural conferences, activities, and seminars that were held at the beginning or end of each year stopped, while the events that evoked Palestine, in literature, history, culture, and struggle, became active in a number of Arab and Western countries, such as the Iraq and Muscat International Book Fairs, They devoted intellectual and cultural seminars to the Palestinian issue.

The martyrdom of 44 writers, artists and activists in the field of culture

The occupation's aggression affected all sectors, including cultural ones, and Palestinian culture lost 44 writers, artists and activists in the field of culture who were martyred during the first four months of the aggression, according to the fourth monthly report of the Palestinian Ministry of Culture issued in mid-February.

The report stated that 32 institutions, centers, and theaters were either partially or completely destroyed as a result of the bombing, in addition to the damage to 12 museums, 2100 old dresses and embroidery pieces from holdings in museums or within personal collections, 9 public libraries, and 8 publishing houses and printing presses.

The occupation forces demolished, partially or completely, about 195 historical buildings, most of which were located in Gaza City, including those used as cultural centers and community institutions, in addition to damaging 9 heritage sites and 10 historical mosques and churches that constitute part of the memory of the Strip.

The Israeli occupation army deliberately destroyed public squares and demolished monuments and works of art there, in addition to destroying 27 artistic murals in public places and along the seashore of Gaza City.

Cultural activities in support of Gaza

Last February, the Palestinian Museum in the town of Birzeit, north of Ramallah, opened an artistic demonstration in support of the Gaza Strip that included three art exhibitions: “This is not an exhibition,” in which the works of more than 100 Gazan artists were collected, and another by Tayseer Barakat entitled “The Missing,” A third, entitled: “Women of Gaza,” highlighted heritage pieces from the popular work of the different regions of Gaza.

“This is not an exhibition” collected 286 artworks by more than 100 Gazan artists from West Bank homes, galleries, institutions and universities throughout historic Palestine.

On the seventh of the same month, the Ministry of Culture opened the plastic art exhibition “One Hundred Paintings from Gaza,” in the Galilee Hall of the Mahmoud Darwish Museum in the city of Ramallah, and included paintings by thirty participating artists from the Gaza Strip, in addition to a painting by the artist Heba Zaqout, who was martyred in the aggression. Israeli.

The paintings presented various topics about life in the Gaza Strip, from drawing the place and embodying the relationship with nature, in addition to scenes of the harshness of life in the Strip in light of the Israeli siege on our people during the past years. Jerusalem was also strongly present in the paintings, whether through individual composition or within the general pattern of drawing. Palestinian place.

Gaza receives the largest share of the State of Palestine awards for the year 2023

On the evening of February 22nd, the Ministry of Culture announced the names of the winners of the State of Palestine Awards in Literature, Arts and Human Sciences, of which Gaza’s writers and intellectuals had the lion’s share.

The Palestine Appreciation Award for overall works was awarded to: the artist Muhammad al-Bakri from the territories of 48, and the novelist and storyteller Omar Hamash from the Gaza Strip, while the Palestine Award for Literature went to: the poet Abdel Nasser Saleh from Tulkarm, and the novelist Talal Abu Shawish from Gaza. It was also awarded The Palestine Prize for Social Studies and Humanities for the imprisoned writer Camille Abu Hanish from Nablus.

The Palestine Prize for Arts went to the artists: calligrapher Saher Al-Kaabi and plastic artist Abdul Hadi Shalla from Gaza residing in Canada, while the Palestine Prize for Young Creators went to: novelist Salman Osama Ahmed and filmmaker Subih Zidane Al-Masry.

The Palestinian poet Abdullah Issa, residing in Russia, received the “Imperial Culture” award in the name of Edward Volodin for poetry this year, which is one of the highest awards awarded by the Russian Writers’ Union, for his collection “There Where Shadows Moan,” published in 2023 by Dar Al-Ahliyya in Amman.

The Palestinian cultural heritage was the focus of a cultural symposium organized by the “National Museum Ahmed Zabana” in the Algerian city of Oran, as part of the activities of the “Arab Cultural Heritage Day,” which falls on the twenty-seventh of March every year.

Recently published: Palestinian books and publications about Palestine

“Writing Behind the Lines,” issued by the Palestinian Ministry of Culture, was one of the most prominent Palestinian publications in the first quarter of this year, with the participation of 25 Gazan writers, intellectuals, and artists, who documented their lives and the details of their livelihood during the ongoing aggression.

The International Network for the Study of Arab Societies (INAS) issued a book to a group of Arab female and male researchers, edited by Maryse Younis and Jilali Al-Mustari, entitled: “The War on Gaza and the Question of Human Values ​​Today,” and it includes extensive papers starting from different approaches. Philosophical, ethical, sociological, anthropological, legal and political analysis of the genocidal Israeli aggression on Gaza. Participants include: Sari Hanafi, Abaher Al-Saqqa, Mohsen Bouazizi, Rania Al-Ghawil, Lina Jazrawi, Naziha Al-Saadawi, Kamal Mughith, Amal Al-Jarbi, Rosa Mahjoub, Amal Awawda, Magda Omar, and Muhammad Zahwa.

And from “Marfa Publications”, “The Book of Commandments: Testimonies of Creative Women and Men from Gaza in the Face of Death” was published, presented by Alberto Manguel and Judith Butler, and edited by Reem Ghanayem.

The Arabic version of the book “Justice for Some: Law and the Palestinian Issue,” by researcher Noura Erekat, was published by the “Institute for Palestine Studies,” translated by Safaa Kanj, and published by Mediterranean Publications, and the novel “The Andalusian Messiah,” by the Syrian-Palestinian writer and researcher Tayseer Khalaf.

While the book “Towers of Ivory and Steel: How Are Israeli Universities Stealing Palestinian Freedom?”, by researcher Maya Wind, was published by “Verso Publications,” and within the “Free Words” project, and by “Dar Tabak” a book was published entitled “With Fernando Pessoa: A Critical Reading In the book “Reassurance”, by the detainee sentenced to life in the occupation prisons, Kamil Abu Hanish.

In her book “The Prisoner of Jerusalem: A Political Prisoner in Occupied Palestine,” published by the French “Libertalia” publications, writer Armal Labori documented the testimony of French-Palestinian human rights activist Salah Hammouri, who was deported by the occupation to France in December 2022, after spending more than 10 years in prison. Captivity.

In Athens, the book “Free Palestine... An Anthology of Palestinian Poetry” was published, presented by the Greek translator and writer Bersa Komotsi, and it includes selected poems that present to the Greek reader examples of the works of four different generations of Palestinian poets, starting with Ibrahim Tuqan, through the fifties, seventies, and nineties, and up to the decade. II and late 2000s.

The book includes poems by: Fadwa Tuqan, Tawfiq Ziyad, Mahmoud Darwish, Mourid Barghouti, Zakaria Muhammad, and Najwan Darwish, in addition to a special chapter on the poets of Gaza who were martyred in 2023, and they are: Salim Al-Naffar, Rifaat Al-Arair, Omar Fares Abu Shawish, and Heba. Abu Nada, and Nour al-Din Hajjaj.

The “Institute for Palestine Studies” published the second part of the book “The Understanding of Modern Palestine: Models of Liberal Knowledge,” and “The Arab Renaissance House” published a poetry collection entitled: “The Earth Relaxes from Our Speech,” by the Gazan poet Musab Abu Toha.

The Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies published the book “No Peace for Palestine - The Long War against Gaza, Occupation and Resistance,” (Read more for Palestine. This place is in a gas station, safe and wide stand), by the German political scientist Helgi Baumgarten, who holds graduate degrees in history, political science, sociology, journalism, and the English, Latin, and Arabic languages. In her books, she addressed the issue of Palestine, the Middle East conflict, and political transformations in the Arab region, and her doctoral thesis at the Free University of Berlin was about the emergence of the Palestinian national movement. Its development from 1948 until 1967-1968. Her book in question was published with this sentence: “In Memory of the Victims of the Israeli Wars on Gaza - To the Children of Gaza: From Beit Hanoun to Rafah.”

Palestine is present in Arab book fairs

The organizers of the Iraq International Book Fair, in its fourth session (February 14-24), chose “Palestine,” the mistress of the earth, to be the mistress of the exhibition and its main theme. The general design of the exhibition and its slogan were accompanied by the poetic phrase “It became called Palestine” by Mahmoud Darwish, with the presence of a wooden figure of Hanzala. The Palestinian as an icon of the exhibition.

The publishers' exhibition halls were given names: Gaza, Jenin, Nablus, and Jerusalem. An olive tree was planted opposite the exhibition halls to emphasize the symbolism of the olive for the Palestinian, and the doors of its wings were decorated with designs bearing the Palestinian keffiyeh.

The writings of Ghassan Kanafani, Emile Habibi, Mahmoud Darwish, Ibrahim Nasrallah, Mai Ziadeh, Edward Said, Fadwa Touqan, and Ibrahim Touqan dominated the promotional propaganda for the exhibition, by choosing quotes from their writings and poetry about the Palestinian issue.

The exhibition witnessed a literary meeting about Palestine in the Arabic novel, with the participation of an elite group of Arab intellectuals, another meeting about the Palestinian resistance in Arabic literature, and a symposium entitled: “Palestine as a Narrative Orientation,” and another entitled: “The Poem Sung for the Resistance and its Role in Solidarity with the Palestinian Cause.” And a poetry meeting entitled: “Palestine beats in the sky of the poem,” and in the art exhibition “A Painting from My Country,” Palestinian religious and national symbols were strongly present.

The activities also included competitions on information related to Palestine, and propaganda videos on Al-Mutanabbi Street and various areas of Iraq, about the Palestinian keffiyeh, the Palestinian melody, and drawing for Palestine, videos of male and female refugees who were displaced from Palestine during the Nakba to Iraq, and they talked about Palestine before the Nakba and the details of displacement from it, and a video My introduction to Palestine Street in Baghdad, another introduction to the traditional Palestinian dress, a tour of an Iraqi seamstress in Baghdad that makes the Palestinian dress, and another video about pottery making and its relationship with Palestine.

The exhibition’s publicity campaign also included talk about boycotting foreign products that support the occupation, and explanations about popular and traditional Palestinian dishes, especially “musakhan” and how to prepare it, in addition to samakia, maftoul, jarisha, and maqluba, in an introduction to traditional Palestinian cuisine, and an illustrated program in the form of short video episodes under the name “A Single Story,” which tells about Iraqi-Palestinian relations.

In its 28th edition (February 21 - March 2), the Muscat International Book Fair devoted intellectual and cultural seminars centered around the Palestinian issue, including: “The Arab Present and the Prospects of the Palestinian Issue” by Egyptian researcher Hussein Abdel Ghani, and “Clinging to the Land in Palestinian Literature,” with the participation of a number of researchers. Arab and Palestinian writers, including: Subhi Al-Hadidi, Adel Al-Osta, Fakhri Saleh, and Suleiman Al-Maamari, and a dialogue session entitled: “The War on Journalists in Gaza,” in which Abdullah Al-Kindi and Nour Al-Din Miladi spoke.

The departure of Ghaben and Al-Nafar

On the morning of February 25, the artist Fathi Ghaben, one of the pillars of plastic art in Palestine, died, one of the founders of the Plastic Artists Association in the Gaza Strip and the Palestinian Plastic Artists Association in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Ghaben was born in the village of Harbia within the 1948 lands on November 12, 1946, which is completely adjacent to Beit Lahia, and its lands can be seen from there. This affected the artist Ghaben throughout his life, his vision of his village and the inability to approach it.

He lived in Jabalia camp, and has been professional in art since 1965. He worked as a teacher in the Al-Nasr Islamic Model School in Gaza, before becoming an advisor in the Ministry of Culture. Some critics and friends called him “the Van Gogh of Gaza.”

He received the Culture and Science Medal from President Mahmoud Abbas in 2015. He also received the Hiroshima Medal and the World Federation of Associations Medal in Tokyo. He was awarded the title of “Palestinian Artist” in 1993. He also received the “Sword of Kanaan” Medal from the Palestinian National and Political Guidance Administration, and was honored. From the representative of the European Union after receiving the Palestinian Press House Appreciation Award for the year 2023.

He was arrested more than once because of his drawings, especially the painting “Identity,” which he painted in 1984, in which he predicted the outbreak of the Intifada, through a scene depicting a slingshot and throwing stones. He was banned from traveling, his works were confiscated, and their owners were pursued. Most of his paintings were burned after the occupation bombed his house in the area. Al-Nasr, west of Gaza, several weeks ago.

The poet and writer Salim Mustafa Al-Nafar, born in Gaza, was martyred on August 27, 1963, in a bombing that targeted his house in the Al-Nasr neighborhood in Gaza City, along with his wife, daughters, only son, sister, husband, and children, and his body is still under the rubble at the time of preparing this report.

He moved with his family outside Palestine after the Israeli occupation authorities deported his father in 1968. The father worked in the ranks of the revolution in Jordan and then moved to Syria after 1970. The family lived in the Raml camp near the city of Latakia, and his father was martyred in Lebanon in 1973.

Al-Naffar studied Arabic literature at Tishreen University in Syria, and there he formed the annual “Abu Salma” Forum for young creatives in 1986, until he returned to Gaza with the National Authority in 1994. He contributed to the establishment of the “Cultural Creativity” Association in Gaza in 1997. He worked as a director in the Ministry of Culture. He was a literary editor in Nidal al-Shaab magazine, Al-Zaytouna magazine, and Al-Ufuq magazine.

He published poetry collections: “Repercussions on the Water Balcony” in 1996, “A Wall for Her” in 1997, “The Whiteness of Questions” in 2001, “An Honor for That Rain” in 2004, “The State of the Homeland” in 2014, and “Completed Poetic Works” in 2016. “The Waiting Guard” 2021, and in prose: “This is what I autobiography” 2004, “Gaza” 2017, “Camp Lanterns” 2018, “A Memory Short on Joy - An Autobiography” 2020, and “Latakia Nights.” “2022.”

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