"Colors from Palestine" 2016 Calendar



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    A Broken Language, a Crippled Debate, and the Role of Art in Democracy

    Author: Dan Walsh

    Excerpted from Antonym-Synonym: A Broken Language, a Crippled Debate, and the Role of Art in Democracy (2003), by Dan Walsh. The full monograph may be accessed at http://www.liberationgraphics.com/ppp/Introduction.html

     Many Americans are aware of the rich moral, cultural, and intellectual accomplishments of Judaism. Most also are aware of the tragic history of the Jewish people: their long persecution, the horror of the Holocaust, and their creation of the state of Israel as a haven and homeland. Very few Americans are familiar with the contemporary history of the Palestinians: an occupied and exiled people who claim as their homeland the exact same land upon which Israel was built.

    In fact, most Americans reflexively consider Palestinians in the negative. Americans are hesitant to even look at posters created in solidarity with Palestine, on the assumption that they depict Jewish people as hideous enemies who are physically and morally inferior. It has been difficult to find a forum in which to display Palestinian poster art, because American gallery curators assume (often without actually seeing any of the posters) that they will be biased, inflammatory, and hateful. Americans have difficulty believing that such posters could have any aesthetic or educational value. They have tended to believe that these posters are against something — that they are against the Jewish people — rather than considering the possibility that they are for something — Palestinian self-determination. They fail to grasp that these posters have something valuable to teach them, not only about Palestine and Israel, but also about the state of free speech in America.           

     There is another reason why Americans resist opening themselves to the Palestinian point of view: they are intimidated. They know that the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is treacherous territory. They have processed the many signals telegraphing them to stay quiet. Experts who render opinions about this issue often do so in an opaque, off-putting linguistic code. Transparency is not always their objective, and opening up dialogue not always their mission. The prestige press and television’s punditry favor diplomats, generals, Senators, and university professors. They rarely feature the perspectives of ordinary people or people with dissenting views, thereby reinforcing an elites-only atmosphere. Credentials are often explicitly required before one is permitted to speak, and those without them are chastised for their ignorance or their lack of standing. Finally and most importantly, anyone who misspeaks risks having their reputation destroyed.

     As a result, dialogue on this issue has stayed in the hands of “adepts” — specialists, partisans, and policy makers — and this is exactly what they prefer. The arena of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict remains a daunting and tremendously risky place for the uninitiated to venture into. Consequently, relatively few do.       

    Surveys of American attitudes have documented the increased interest of Americans in world affairs, their intense concern for Middle East peace, and their desire for the U.S. government to be impartial in brokering a peace (Source: “Worldviews 2002,” September 2002, Chicago Council on Foreign Relations and the German Marshall Fund of the United States). Yet just a small fraction of the public actually engages in public dialogue or activity concerning this issue.

    For the average American, the potential personal cost of engaging in a public or even private debate on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict carries the real risk of being accused of anti-Semitism. Once so accused — whether deliberately or by unconscious insinuation and whether one deserves that accusation or not — there is no established way to clear one’s name. Decent, well-meaning people do not want this destructive accusation attached to them. Rather than run that risk, Americans who might otherwise have something to contribute all too frequently opt for self-censorship. As a result, only the most unhealthy, tepid form of debate is possible, one in which participants are self-conscious, hesitant to speak, and afraid of breaking taboos. These proscriptions on free speech lead to social and political tensions. At some point, tensions become too unbearable to ignore. For many Americans, this point has come and they have begun to speak and act out, despite the risks. This can be seen in the rising number of grassroots activists who previous to the second intifada rarely voiced any public criticism of Israel. This small but growing number includes citizens working on the issues mentioned above and also in movements dedicated to women’s rights, immigration reform, free speech, the separation of church and state, and other domestic concerns. Their activism is reflected in part in the campaigns on U.S. campuses to boycott Israeli products and to pressure colleges and universities to divest themselves of funds and corporations that invest in Israel.

    Writers criticizing grassroots American opposition to Zionism have used as their reference points current and historical events in Europe and in the Arab and Muslim worlds. This is illogical. The United States is the world’s longest running democracy; it did not experience the Inquisition, pogroms, fascism, monarchies, and dictatorships that shaped European, Arab, and Muslim political cultures. Such references provide historical context, but as a lens for looking at contemporary American events, they are irrelevant.  A much more relevant model comes from American history: the battle between Unionists and states’ rights advocates. In the years between independence and the outbreak of the Civil War (1789-1861), a great moral argument boiled up between the northern industrial states and the agricultural south over the question of human bondage or, as the south preferred to call it, “the peculiar institution.” The states’ rights position came to serve as a cloak for the pro-slavery position. This moral argument spilled into the political arena as abolitionists fought with proponents of slavery over the question of whether they would be, through their government, morally aligned with slavery. 


    In the same way today, the central characteristic of the friction between two movements in the U.S. — the Israel advocacy movement and the Palestine solidarity movement — is quintessentially moral. The Israel advocates hold Zionism aloft as a jewel, the very essence of Jewish moral principles and the quest for justice. Many in the Palestine solidarity movement, which counts innumerable Jewish activists among its members, believe that achieving justice for the Palestinians is the most significant way of strengthening democracy at home and abroad and of honouring the tolerant and inclusive principles of Judaism. Each side says that it occupies the moral high ground. Both cannot be right.

    As in that earlier time, the moral question has political implications. American anti-Zionism has emerged from the concern that the government’s policies do not reflect the moral values of the people. And American anti-Zionism is politically based, not at all like European anti-Semitism that emerged from religious and economic hostilities.

    This American battle is not over the question of Israel’s right to exist, and it is not being fought between America’s Jewish and non-Jewish communities. This battle is over the question of whether Americans, speaking through the actions and policies of their government, wish to be morally aligned with the founding myths and political actions of Israel and whether or not there is a dignified and honourable identity for those who hold this position.



    "Colors from Palestine" 2015 Calendar

    In loving memory of the late Ismail Shammout


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    A Monument of Palestine -- A Monument of Palestinian art
    By: Samia Halaby

    Ismail Shammout died July 4, 2006. How painful that Palestine was not there around his bed; but all he worked for lives within us. And as the great Mustafa al-Hallaj said in both words and graphics, we Palestinian artists carry those who died before us in our heads and our work.

    Born in Al Lydd in 1931, Ismail Shammout had the good fortune as a youth to study with Dahoud Zalatimo. Amazingly, at the age sixteen he persuaded his reluctant father that he could earn a living making art. His father, even more amazingly, provided him with materials and a space to work. It was then 1947, only one year before the Nakba.

    Shammout was seventeen when on July 13, 1948, he was evicted from his home along with the majority of the population of al Lydd. They were forced at gunpoint to leave their homes, surrounded by armed Zionist gangs and overseen by sharpshooters on roofs. They were herded into the town squares and thence forced eastwards into the wilderness. On the way, they were molested by Zionist thugs who at gunpoint stole their valuables and confiscated the little water or food some of them had. The painful march took three to five days to complete. Many died. With his family, Shammout ended up in the refugee camp of Khan Younis where he painted the suffering of women and children, and the agonies of long lines for food and water. He organized his first exhibit in 1950 in this very refugee camp.

    Shammout’s career as an artist and popular hero of Palestine began with his 1953 exhibition in Gaza of oil paintings describing the catastrophic march through the wilderness. The exhibited paintings objectify and socialize a pain that had simmered on a private level. Refugees of Gaza saw themselves mirrored and felt
    relief. An immense attendance of the general population of Gaza, especially those living in refugee camps, overwhelmed Ismail Shammout, still then a student at the College of Fine Art, Cairo. This stunning response to the show was a hint of the bottled up hope for liberation. In response, Shammout committed his life's work to Palestine and the art of liberation.

    One painting at this extraordinary exhibition was titled “A Sip of Water.” It is a self-portrait representing an event described to me by his wife, Tamam, as one of his indelible memories of the march through the wilderness. Many of the marchers were dying of extreme thirst and his mother herself was near death. He went out searching for water and found an empty tin can and filled in with water from a puddle but as he made his way to his mother an Israeli soldier shot it out of his hand. He went searching again and finally returned with a bit of water which he gave to his mother; but he was not in time to save a younger brother who died of thirst.

    His life and that of his wonderful wife Tamam al-Akhal, spiraled around Palestine. With every move forced on them by Zionist aggression, they relocated somewhere not far from the center of their love. This denied center of the heart, Palestine, was finally visited years after the Nakba. Of the many people who remember this visit, a most touching one was a description of Shammout meeting with Zalatimo, his first teacher and inspiration. In June of 2002, Fadwa Zalatimo, Daughter of the great artist, Dahoud Zalatimo, said to me that when Zalatimo was near death, fourty-seven years after their involuntary separation, Shammout traveled to Jerusalem to visit Zalatimo. She remembers it as an event of great emotion. "It was mutual admiration between them, said Fadwa. "They -- Ismail and Zalatiomo -- met after the long separation. He [Shammout] kissed his hands and thanked him and they both cried."

    We, his contemporary artists, all remember Shammout’s studio as the place we went to as one goes to the source, a storehouse of information and documents, a place of quiet, a place for thought and art, a place of gentleness, and above all a cultural storehouse of Palestine. Shammout is the builder of the Union of Palestinian artists, the builder of international exhibitions, the builder of young artists, the builder of galleries, and not least of all the first historian of the liberation movement of Palestinian art.

    He lives in my memories as that young tall man with intense eyes whom I first met in 1979 on the streets of Beirut. An image of night black hair flying in its own revolution visually impressed his intense message on my thoughts. Now that he is gone, the burden of his legacy weighs on all Palestinian artists, as we too shoulder the art and culture of Palestine, though we are scattered and suffering news of the latest attacks on Shammout’s Gaza.


                                  in all of us


    "Colors from Palestine"

     2014 Resistance Art Calendar

    Artist: Mohammad Jaloos

    Theme: Jerusalem, the city of Peace

    Buy it now


    Jerusalem, the city of Peace

    Author: Atallah Hanna Archbishop Theodosius of Sebastia

    Jerusalem is the city of our faith and spiritual peace that will lift us to the holy skies. It is the city that embraces the holy sites, as well as civilization, history heritage and identity. Jerusalem to us is like the heart to the body, much as the human body can not survive without the heart, it is impossible to talk about Palestine without its “heart”, Jerusalem. It is the city that resembles our roots, national unity and deep spiritual heritage. It is mosaic that so beautiful, it makes the human soul kneel humbly in front of god’s magnificence, as he wanted this city to be a pilgrimage and sacred cup that constantly reminds us of His gifts to the human race.

     So many works of art have been done about Jerusalem, and so many artists have tried to grasp the inner beauty of the holy city, but there is always room for more because the city keeps inspiring artists to give their best.

     I, while introducing this work of art to all those who fell in love with Jerusalem, feel obligated to state some facts about the wounded Jerusalem, words that has to be said as token of love and loyalty to it; Jerusalem is crying to the minds, hearts and consciousness of all decent human being to deliver it from the inhuman and degrading occupation. Since Jerusalem was occupied, something very strange is happening. The occupation with all its brutality and racism is trying to establish a de facto reality on the ground, as the Israeli occupation is not directed at only the land of Jerusalem but also all that this land contains, rocks, humans, history, heritage and civilization. The Israeli occupation is trying relentlessly to enforce the Jewish doctrine on all that this holy city resembles and to obscure its Palestinian Arab identity. Nothing is safe from this brutal occupation, neither the holy places nor the Palestinian Jerusalemites, and the beautiful Jerusalem is threatened by destruction as a result of actions of the bitter Zionism that is trying to deface the city and all that it resembles.

    Nevertheless, no matter what this brutal occupation might try, and no matter how hard they try to “Isralize” everything, our birthright in Jerusalem proved to be stronger than their policies and their snobbishness, arrogance and brutality.

    Jerusalem will once again go back to its original and rightful owners. The Arab liberation of Jerusalem is forthcoming and will restore the city’s dignity and holiness which it was deprived off as a result of occupation.

    The day that Jerusalem was occupied in will always be engraved in the hearts and minds of our people, but the day of liberation will set the record straight and will erase the bad and ugly memories once the Palestinian flag is once again flying over the city’s mosques and Churches.

    Every stone and every corner in Jerusalem tells a great story, but the greatest story of all is what took place on the land of the “Church of Holy Sepulchre” and “Al Aqsa Mosque”. The prophet Mohammad ascension to the heavens and Christ’s resurrection and conquering of death will always remain as the most important and significant in Jerusalem’s history.  Al Aqsa and the Holy Sepulchre are inseparable twins and will always remain the focal point of each and every believing pilgrim.

    These pictures about Jerusalem resembles the faith of every Palestinian in the justice of his and her cause, and their faith in the one and only God who is greater than all evil and bigger than any occupier. This faith is what makes us certain that the policies that trying to deface Jerusalem and disguise its identity will most certainly fail, for the true Arab face of Jerusalem can not be obscured.

    From Jerusalem, I salute all those who love the holy city and they are many. When a believer prays anywhere in the world, he or she remembers Jerusalem and prays for its peace. And as we, Palestinians Jerusalem is the city where the Crescent and the Cross join hands and voices to glorify the one and only God, and we ask God to strengthen our resolve and our people so that we will be able to achieve our goal of political independence in our own state, Palestine, with Jerusalem as its capital so that the city could be truly called the city of peace again.


    Palestinian embroidery: An Innovative Adaptation to Preserve Palestinian Heritage.

    Resistance Art Calendar 2013

    Artwork by the Artist Najat El-Khairy


    To trace the origin of the cross-stitch needlepoint, one has to go way back in history to the time of the Canaanites five to six thousand years ago. The Canaanites are the roots and origin of the Palestinian people who lived in this area for thousands of years.

    Man cultivated his land since the copper age. Later in time, raw materials such as cotton, linen and silk were produced, encouraging the mastery of spinning, weaving and dyeing. Beautiful textiles were produced to make remarkable clothes embellished with embroidery.


    The mural at the Beni-Hassan Tomb depicted a group of inhabitants from southern Palestine offering presents and gifts to the Pharaohs; repetitive geometrical motifs decorated their clothes. The abstract geometrical patterns recur as symbols in the weaving of the wandering Bedouins of Arabia & Palestine.

    Before the partition of Palestine in 1948, the Arab population lived in over eight hundred villages where the art of embroidery developed.


    The Palestinian village women embroidered all sorts of things: from dresses, head veils and caps decorated with coins, to cushions, coasters and covers to beautify their homes.  While they helped their husbands in the fields, they still managed to find time to embroider.

    Most of the heavy embroidery was concentrated in southern Palestine. Costume wearing showed the degree and social role of the individual, whether he or she was a town dweller, villager or Bedouin.  The more heavily embroidered dresses were kept for special occasions as they represented wealth and richness of talent. 


    Each region in Palestine has a distinctive style of costume and embroidery. From each attire, one could know the region from which a person comes whether from Ramallah, Haifa, Hebron, Gaza, Bethlehem, Beit Dajan and so on.


    An outstanding characteristic of Palestinian embroidery is its strong & vibrant array of colours that express the powerful personalities of the village women. They play a key role in this unique art form.

    The dominant colour is deep red in various shades. It is highlighted with touches of brilliant orange, pink, green, violet, fuchsia, yellow and white.  Black is used to contrast and outline the patterns.

    Bright rich embroidery indicated happiness. It was worn as a sign of rejoicing during celebrations. The unmarried girl had her dresses very lightly embroidered as it was considered shameful to wear heavily embroidered ones before her marriage.  The same goes for the elderly or when a woman is in mourning; the traditional embroidery colour is blue.

    As soon as a girl is old enough to wield a needle at the age of six or seven, she is taught by her mother, grandmother or sister how to neat cross-stitch.  Countless hours were shared between them to learn the rich, highly detailed and intricate patterns that have been passed on through generations. Later on, she would start embroidering her own trousseau, which she will proudly show off to the other women in her village. 


    Most of the embroidery on a Fellaha or village woman’s dress is concentrated on the chest panel, around the neck-line, vertical lines on the side panels and the sleeves and rectangular panels above the hem at the back of the dress. The position of the embroidery is almost always the same on each dress. The acceptance of new patterns and motifs differentiated each dress and gave them their unique appeal. Mistakes can be detected in old Palestinian embroidery, but they do not spoil the beauty, on the contrary, they add charm. In fact, deliberate errors were sometimes made because of their belief that only God is perfect. 


    Each pattern or motif has a different name. The village women picked them from their surroundings: “Palm Leaves”, “Ears of Corn”, “Cypress Trees”... Other names were taken from domestic life such as “Bars of Soap “and “Lamps”; yet others date back to the Ottoman times such as “The Road to Egypt” and the “Tent of the Pasha”. Some motifs have humorous names such as “The Old Man’s Teeth”, “Old Man Upside Down”, “The Baker’s Wife”! The shapes and forms of triangles, rosettes, and trees used by the Fellaha are geometrical patterns that lead one to assume she had a great sense of math and symmetry, as successful embroidery requires careful counting of fabric thread and the stitches which make the motifs.


    One of the rules of cross stitch is that the top stitches, or the second row, should lie with the same direction.  However, the Palestinian embroideresses alternate sometimes the direction to give a special effect and to cause the light to catch the colour from different angles, especially with the areas of solid embroidery.


    Only one kind of cross-stitch is utilized. However the outcomes are incredibly varied. Other stitches are also used such as the couching stitch of Bethlehem that was usually done with metallic silver and golden thin cords, and the louza (satin) stitch.


    This Lavish embroidery was executed on beautiful linen, cotton and silk material by using silk floss with exquisite beauty and shininess, but during the years of 1930-1940, it became difficult and too expensive for the Palestinian Fellaha to obtain the silk floss from Syria and Lebanon.  This is why Perlé cotton made by Dolful Mieg et Cie (called DMC) was imported from France and used as a substitute. 


    Since these wonderful dresses and items are made of material and fabric that can perish with time, Najat El-Taji El-Khairy began looking for new ways of preserving Palestinian embroidery. Reclaiming and documenting Palestinian art by painting it and preserving it on a lasting porcelain surface to show the beautiful and distinct richness of Palestinian heritage became her mission.  As it happens, Najat means rescue and survival.


    To embroider, certain tools are utilized.  They consist of a canvas or fabric, a thread, and a needle.  To implement the idea, she replaced these tools with tiles or porcelain squares, paint, and a fine pen, respectively. This innovative merge of two art forms was her way of protecting and preserving the heritage of Palestinian art for generations to come. She utilizes a variety of proprietary painting techniques developed over her career. Every piece is hand-painted, unique and original requiring critical, meticulous precision work with strict attention to detail. After painting, the porcelain undergoes several high temperature kiln firings that preserve the artist’s creation. It is a “Renaissance “of Palestinian embroidery.


    Each design is carefully chosen according to the subject, and therefore the combination of motifs conveys the message she wants to relay...In this sense she speaks through her art. And that is why she paints-- to safeguard Palestine’s exquisite artistic heritage.


    The Artist says: “It is my way of immortalizing  Palestine’s Heritage and thus, My Cause".





    Mahmoud Drawish 1941-2008


    We dedicate the "Colors from Palestine" 2012 Calendar to the memory of Mahmoud Darwish, who has quietly left us on Saturday 9 August 2008 after 67 years of a life jumping from one peak to another, rising higher every time, He was able to see what no one else can see: in life, politics, and even people, expressing his visions in a language that seems to be made only for him to write with.



    Mahmoud Darwish

    In the presence of Absence

    Born on 13 March 1941 in Al Birweh, a quaint village in the Galilee, Mahmoud Darwish went on to live a life that is a poignant example of how far talent and determination, combined with a precarious life, can carry an individual from a simple background into the international halls of fame. At the early age of seven, Darwish and his family were forced to flee to Lebanon to escape the ongoing massacres by the Israeli Army as it occupied Palestine and, in the process, destroyed the poet’s village (in addition to over 400 other Palestinian villages). Returning “illegally” to their country the following year, he and his family were subjected to military rule and emergency regulations of the State of Israel established over expropriated Palestinian land. They were given the status of “present-absent alien,” a status that will mark the poet from that point onwards, preventing him from ever finding his homeland, except in his language and his ever-loving audience.

    It was as early as 1950 that the poet first realized how the poem can be “a threat to the sword” as he was harassed by the Israeli military governor for writing and reciting poetry that expressed his strong sense of Arab and Palestinian identity. These “harassments” were to continue until 1970 when he left to Moscow and then to Egypt, to finally settle for a while in Beirut until the Israeli invasion in 1982. After Beirut he became a “wondering exile” in Arab capitals, settling in Paris for a while, then Amman, and finally Ramallah, moving a step closer to the home which he still cannot reach. The circle is not yet complete…. 
    “There is no age sufficient for me
    to pull my end to my beginning.”

    His life in the exodus somehow helped to ignite the poetic flame within him and exile became one of the sources of his literary creation. However, despite his geographic separation from his homeland, Darwish continued over the years to disrupt the status quo in Israel through the medium of poetry. In 1988, his widely circulated militant poem “Passers by in Passing Words,” a poem that he does not think highly of in literary terms but that nevertheless was met with great acclaim amongst the Arab public, was cause for a great uproar in Israeli circles, both the right and left wing alike. A book in French entitled “Palestine Mon Pays: L’affaire du Poeme,” published by Les Editions de Minuit in 1988, documents some of the articles that were written in defence of Darwish and his poem. In a similar manner, but this time in March 2000, Yossi Sarid, then the minister of education in Israel, suggested the inclusion of Darwish’s poetry in the Israeli high school curriculum. This suggestion resulted in a very close no-confidence vote for the Barak government.

    The year 2000 witnessed the publication of Darwish’s twentieth book of poetry, Mural, a masterpiece epic poem which synthesizes his experience and poetry spanning 36 years as he contemplated impending “eternity” in a hospital bed after having undergone life-threatening surgery in 1998. In addition, he has five books of prose, and his work has been translated into more than 22 languages.

    His most recent translations in English, “Mahmoud Darwish: Adam of Two Edens” (Jusoor and Syracuse University Press, 2000) and “The Raven’s Ink: A Chapbook” (Lannan Foundation, 2001) include a host of Darwish’s most acclaimed poems written between 1984 and 1999. Even though “he is known the world over as the poet of Palestine,” as Margaret Obank says in her review of “The Adam of Two Edens,” Darwish’s poetry “has been published only sparingly in English.” These two volumes are an excellent introduction, in English, to this poet who is considered to be “indisputably among the greatest of our century’s poets.” (Carolyne Forche)

    It is perhaps Darwish’s very special relationship to the Arabic language that has set him apart from other Arab poets of his time. Putting the political cause aside, a double-edged sword in the case of the poet’s literary career, Darwish has created a new zone in the Arabic language that he can call his own: he constructs his kingdom – homeland in language. Considered by one prominent Arab literary critics as “the saviour of the Arabic language,” Darwish manages to describe mundane events and uncover his (and his people’s) innermost feelings through words juxtaposed in the most idiosyncratic of contexts, creating fascinating new images. The symbols, metaphors, and style in his poetry are carefully chosen; yet at the same time they reflect an integrity and clairvoyance that are a unique characteristic of this writer. A number of his poems have even been called “prophetic.” With his artistic intuition and acute political common sense, he manages to see and read what very few people can. When that understanding finds its way into a poem, it gains a totally new significance to the readers, because it usually is an expression of what they fear most but are unable to utter.

    This is true of his character even in politics. In 1993, when Darwish resigned from the PLO executive committee to protest the Oslo Accords, he could see at the time, as very few people within the PLO could, that there was a structural problem with the accord itself that would only pave the way for escalation. “I hoped I was wrong. I’m very sad that I was right.” (New York Times interview)

    His relationship to language remains unsurpassed by any relationship he has with anyone or anything. Having a special talent for uncovering and creating the music in language, his poetry has been a fertile ground for musicians all over the Arab world to compose the most beautiful and popular of songs. The fact that his words translate so easily and splendidly into musical lyrics resulted in a wide array of beautiful songs that are as much a credit to the poet as they are to the musicians.

    Choosing to spend most of his time during the recent Palestinian Intifada in Ramallah, under siege, Darwish wrote three extraordinary poems of resistance slightly reminiscent of his early poetry. “Mohammad,” “ The Sacrifice” and “A State of Siege” were published in newspapers in Palestine and the Arab world during 2001 – 2002. The last one, “A State of Siege,” is currently being published in a book in Arabic, to become Darwish’s 21st book of poetry. In this last poem, he describes the siege of Ramallah and the Palestinian land in profound images that invoke daily life in a vivid and multi-layered way: 

    A woman asked the cloud: please enfold my loved one
    My clothes are soaked with his blood
    If you shall not be rain, my love
    Be trees
    Saturated with fertility, be trees
    And if you shall not be trees, my love
    Be a stone
    Saturated with humidity, be a stone
    And if you shall not be a stone, my love
    Be a moon
    In the loved one’s dream, be a moon
    So said a woman to her son
    In his funeral
    He goes on to add:
    During the siege, time becomes a space
    That has hardened in its eternity
    During the siege, space becomes a time
    That is late for its yesterday and tomorrow
    (A State of Siege)

    Often called “the poet of the resistance,” and sometimes accused of writing in defence of Palestinian mainstream politics, Darwish still manages to constantly defy any strict definition of who and what he is or wants to be. He wrote the Palestinian declaration of independence in1988 and many poems of resistance that are an integral part of every Arab’s consciousness. But he also wrote a lot about love and death; he wrote poems that can be easily understood, and others that are so mystifying that many critics could not begin to decipher. In all this, he remains confident in his open and honest relationship to his readers. “When I move closer to pure poetry, Palestinians say go back to what you were. But I have learned from experience that I can take my reader with me if he trusts me. I can make my modernity, and I can play my games if I am sincere.” (New York Times interview) This intricate relationship with his ever-increasing audience is best described in this excerpt: 
    Whenever I search for myself I find the others
    And when I search for them
    I only find my alien self
    So am I the individual- crowd?

    Darwish is the recipient of many international literary awards including the Lotus prize in 1969, the Lenin prize in 1983, France’s highest medal as Knight of Arts and Belles Lettres in 1997, and the Moroccan Wissam of intellectual merit handed to him by King Mohammad VI of Morocco. In 2001, he won the Lannan prize for cultural freedom. This prize recognizes people whose extraordinary and courageous work celebrates the human right to freedom of imagination, inquiry, and expression. As defined by the foundation, cultural freedom is the right of individuals and communities to define and protect valued and diverse ways of life currently threatened by globalisation.

    His reputation all over the world as a highly esteemed poet and individual is partly due to the fact that Mahmoud Darwish affirms an open conception of what being an Arab is. Arab, to him, is not an identity closed unto itself, but a pluralism totally open unto others. In his oeuvres, he dialogues with a group of cultures (Canaanite, Hebrew, Greek, Roman, Persian, Egyptian, Arab, French, English, Ottoman, Native American) as well as with myths of the three monotheistic religions. These dialogues create multiple layers within the poem that may be difficult to appreciate unless the reader can develop a full understanding of the “I”s and the “others” of the text.

    When Darwish gives a poetry reading anywhere in the Arab world, a rare event, he easily draws thousands of people from all walks of life and social classes. It is as if he has become a personal possession, a national treasure, for every Arab, regardless of age, education, background, nationality, or religion. Now in translation perhaps he will also be embraced elsewhere in the world. No poet has been expropriated as Mahmoud Darwish has been over the past thirty years. No one realizes this more than him: 

    And history makes fun of its victims
    And its heroes
    Takes a look at them and passes by
    This sea is mine
    This moist air is mine
    And my name-
    Even if I spell it wrong on the coffin –
    Is mine
    As for me,
    Now that I am filled with all the possible
    Reasons for departure –
    I am not mine.
    I am not mine
    I am not mine…

    Author: Serene Huleileh
    Source: www.mahmouddarwish.com


    Colors from Palestine 2011 Calendar


    The Power of Culture Over the Culture of Power

    When cultural freedoms are denied, culture inevitably becomes a political act, and the celebration of Palestinian culture becomes a form of resistance. Throughout history, art has always been the voice of freedom under oppression. The blooming of the Palestinian culture under the harsh Israeli occupation and oppression is a true example of the strength and defiance of the Palestinian character. In this light, the sheer vibrancy of Palestinian cultural life is symbolic of both the resilience of Palestinian culture and the perseverance of Palestinian humanity.

    The immense Arab cultural heritage of Jerusalem is undeniable, so it would seem an uncontroversial choice by UNESCO to be the Arab Capital of Culture for 2009. However, Israeli Internal Security Minister Avi Dichter issued injunctions banning all events to celebrate the festival in Jerusalem, instructing the Israeli police to "suppress any attempts by the Palestinians to hold events in Jerusalem and throughout the rest of the country". On the day of the launch, hundreds of police and border guard officials were deployed in occupied East Jerusalem, and shut down celebratory events, including a soccer match at a school, and a conference for young women.
    The Executive Director for the event, Varsen Aghabkhian, described the confrontation in Jerusalem, where twenty Palestinians were arrested: "We had no stones, no guns and no rockets. We had balloons and white flags. We stood up in front of the Israeli soldiers and their artillery. They were threatening the balloons and the clowns. It was very ridiculous, like if balloons were so scary. The world should know that: The retaliation is harsh, even when you’re only armed with balloons".

    The same week, Israeli Internal Security Minister Avi Dichter also ordered the closure of the Palestinian Literary Festival, organized by UNESCO and the British Council. It was decided to begin and end the festival in Jerusalem to celebrate its year as a Cultural Capital. The annual event has had an illustrious list of patrons including Nobel Laureates Seamus Heaney and Harold Pinter. The Palestinian National Theatre, hosting the opening event, was closed by armed Israeli security forces despite the presence of high profile international authors - including Michael Palin and Ahdaf Soueif - who were forced to relocate to the French Cultural Center. The closing event, to be hosted at the same theatre, was also shut down by Israeli forces: participants continued the event at the British Council.

    While proclaiming its legitimacy as the only democracy in the Middle East, Israel imposes approximately 1500 military regulations on the West Bank. Most of the 11,000 Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails are charged with offenses under these regulations, which include bans on political meetings, protest marches, and the distribution of articles or pictures with "political connotations". Military Order # 938 defines holding a Palestinian flag or listening to a nationalist song as a” hostile action” punishable by jail term.

    The Israeli government is currently seeking to suppress freedom of expression even inside Israel. The Ministerial Committee on Legislation in Israel recently approved a bill to ban Nakba day. Nakba, the Arabic word for ’catastrophe’, refers to the Palestinian expulsion from their land in 1948, and is commemorated every year on the 15th of May. Under the new bill, to mourn this day could result in a three year jail term.
    The Palestinian intellectual Edward Said called for the reaffirmation of "the power of culture over the culture of power", and the ingenuity with which Palestinians overcome the Israeli military time and time again to celebrate their culture suggests they have heard his call. Palestine remains a cultural hub of activity with numerous visual and performing arts events, and eclectic art projects.




    Carlos Latuff
    A Cartoonist with an edge

    In an appreciation of the solidarity work of international artists, Resistance Art is introducing a "World for Palestine" calendar series for international artists who are committed to the Palestinian struggle and social justice in the world. We begin our "World for Palestine" series with a talented and gifted cartoonist Carlos Latuff. Carlos is a Brazilian artist who devoted his art to fight oppression wherever it existed in the world. Carlos has been a professional artist since 1989. He started as an illustrator for a small advertising agency and then worked as a political cartoonist for trade union papers in 1990, but he has been drawing since he was a kid.
    Based in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Carlos has crafted a style that can be described as Political cartoonist with a unique courage that knows no compromise when it comes to supporting the struggle against oppression.

    He has touched on issues like Apartheid in South Africa, the plight of Native Americans in the US and the oppression of Tibetans in China. But perhaps his most known series to date is "We are all Palestinians" in which he compares the actions taken by the Israeli government towards Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip directly to the Nazi's treatment of Jews.

    Carlos visited Palestine for the first time in 1999. He was shocked by the brutal Israeli occupation practices against the Palestinian. He saw first hand the daily humiliation of the entire Palestinian population, imprisonment without charges, house destructions, the closure of cities that last for days and weeks, the Israeli settlers' barbaric attacks on Palestinian farmers, the targeted killing of Palestinian political activists, and the fear in children eyes of an occupation that has denied them their childhood. The visit transformed his views and his Palestine related cartoons; He became more forceful in exposing the Zionist lies about the nature of the Palestinian Israeli conflict. Because of his sharp condemnation of Israeli occupation, he was accused of anti-Semitism. In an Interview with the Jewish cultural scholar Eddy Portnoy, Latuff said, "regarding cartoons and anti-Semitism, I feel comfortable enough to make any comparison I think necessary that expresses my point. Metaphors are the key point to political cartooning. Of course Israel isn't building gas chambers in the West Bank, but surely we can find similarities between the treatment given to Palestinians by the [Israel Defense Forces] and the Jews under Nazi rule. It happens to be Israeli Jews that are the oppressors of Palestinians. If they were Christians, Muslims or Buddhists, I would criticize them the same way". He added in another interview "I produced political cartoons on different issues, both local (Brazilian) and international. My detractors say that the use of the Star of David in my Israel-related cartoons is irrefutable proof of anti-Semitism; however, it's not my fault if Israel chose sacred religious symbols as national symbols, such as the Knesset Menorah or the Star of David in killing-machines like F-16 jets. I can't be blamed for making an Israeli bomb-dropping warbirds adorned with a religious symbol, because that's the way Israeli air force planes are. To say my cartoons are a remake of the past anti-Semitic imagery is just another well-known strategy for discrediting criticisms regarding Israel.

    His work on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict made him a target to the Israeli terror machine; to the point that the Likud party in Israel (the ruling party today) openly called for his assassination. On the Likud party official web site they called for "Neutralizing Lattuf by any means necessary". When Carlos was asked about the open call to "assassinate him, he said "Of course, we can expect anything from IsraHell. If they can carry on "selective killings" of Palestinians, and carpet Beirut with tons of bombs murdering hundreds of civilians, what is the big deal about "neutralizing" one cartoonist in Brazil? Death threats, cheap attempts to terrorize me, however, will not prevent me from supporting Palestinians in their struggle against brutal Israeli occupation. The most that Likud creeps can do is silence me with a bullet, but they will never be able to silence my art."

    Carlos art is not for every taste. He does not cater to the views of the media. His art is made for people living in Gaza, in Baghdad, in the slums of Latin America, ordinary people, the populace. He hopes his art can boost the morale of people suffering and the freedom fighters in every corner of the planet. Touching the taboo of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is always controversial, especially when you take the side of the oppressed. Carlos art breaks the common perception of the issue and it challenges the mainstream version of the conflict. You can follow his work and fights for justice on the web
    http://latuff2.deviantart.com/ & http://tales-of-iraq-war.blogspot.com

    In solidarity
    Mohammad Said
    Resistance Art



    Does Israel have the right to exist?
    A very frequently used question designed to confuse and distort the fact of the Palestinian Israeli conflict; to which the so obvious answer is: Israel does not have the right to ethnically cleanse 750,000 Palestinian and steal 78% of Palestine (Known to the Palestinian as an Nakba) so it can have a place to exist. Israel does not have the right to imprison 1.5 million Palestinians in Gaza after she made them refugees. Israel does not have the right to inflect horror and atrocities against the Palestinian people on a daily bases so it can have a place to exist. Israel does not have the right to terrorize, to dispossess, to torture people in order to have a place" to exist". Israel does not have the right to take away other people's rights. The answer is as simple as that.

    Everyone and for that matter everything have "the right to exist". If one reviews the relevant universally accepted rights. One should not miss the very first point which is the right of the Palestinian people to keep their own country, if this is an accepted right for the Palestinians!! Then when Israel is stealing Palestinian land on a daily bases and creating an apartheid system in Palestine; it is Israel who started the hostilities, not the other way around. Sequencing the Palestinians as the aggressors and the Zionists as the victims is a very vicious perversion of the facts. But who perpetrated this odious shift? Who benefited from that monumental fraud by breaking the simplest laws of logic and human decency?

    What happened to the Jewish people in Europe was an absolute evil, and all humanity specially the Jewish people should work hard to insure that this kind of crime and atrocities never happen to any one again. It is very sad and wrong for the victims become the oppressors. What Israel and its Zionist elite are doing to the Palestinian people is an absolute evil. What happened (and still happening right now) to the Palestinians people and to Palestine is an absolute wrong, two wrong never make a right. Or is there a very special class of people who enjoy very special "rights", which annihilates other people's most basic rights? Is this horrible human cost that the Palestinian ends up having to pay in order to ensure that Israel has a special right to exist?
    The only way that "that right of Israel to exist" could be special if it implies the right to exist in someone else's country and in order to do so: the right to wipe Palestine off the map and the right to do all other necessary horrors to Palestinians who don't want to be dispossessed of their country, of their lives, of their most basic human rights. Of course, these issues are far away from being addressed and always denied for the benefit of Israel to have the right to exist. If the Palestinians do not have the same rights, then this situation is one of the most repugnant case of double standards, once more, the Israel's core argumentation is an insult to our collective intelligence, but again there is nothing to stop the reaping of its benefits. Will you be for or against the RIGHT of Israel to exist at your place in your own country? And when they are forced to, they'll condescend to negotiate with you some leftovers of what they stole from you at the first place. This obviously rhetorical question was just to make one approaches how one of the millions of Palestinians could feel
    And by the way are you a Palestinian Nakba denier?

    -Resistance Art



    Naji Al-Ali & 60 years of dispossession

    In a simple and forceful way, Naji cuts though all lies and disguises and brings the truth to the masses. Naji is perhaps best known as the creator of the character Handala, who is depicted as a ten-year old boy and appeared for the first time in Al-Siyasa newspaper in Kuwait in 1969. The figure turned his back to the viewer from the year 1973, and clasped his hands behind his back.

    “He is an icon that stands to watch me from slipping. And his hands behind his back are a symbol of rejection of all the present negative tides in our region.” Naji Al-Ali

    Handala remains an iconic symbol of Palestinian identity and defiance.

    We dedicate the “Colors of Palestine” 2008 Wall Calendar to the memory of Naji Al-Ali. Noted for the sharp     political criticism in his work. On July 22, 1987 he was shot in the face, at point blank range, as he left the London office of the Al Qabbas newspaper where he worked. He died after laying in a coma for 5 weeks.

     In the year 2005 more than 170 civil organizations in Palestine called on the world to help them with their struggle against Israel apartheid in Palestine, they called for Boycott, Divestment and sanction campaigns against the racist state of Israel. Naji believed in ordinary people and their ability to change their reality, he was convinced if we mobilize the poor, the hungry and the marginalized they will change the course of history.  Resistance art calls on you (the citizens of the world) to boycott apartheid Israel, and to assist the Palestinian refugees to go home and live in dignity and peace on their land. Let's make 2008 the year of justice for the Palestinian people.

    Culture and art are the soul of human civilizations. Throughout history, culture and art have always been the celebration of freedom under oppression. The blooming of Palestinian culture and art under harsh and thorny conditions is a true example of the strength and defiance of the Palestinian character. The Palestinian art and artists have come a long way over the years and are beginning to enjoy international fame. Palestinian artists ought to be recognized for their creativity, talents, and persistence.

    Resistance Art is a Palestinian initiative to celebrate the diversity and richness of Palestinian art and culture. As John Lennon said, "Living is easy with eyes closed, misunderstanding is all you see." It takes courage to face life with eyes open. We, at Resistance Art, are happy to present to you a small window to the Palestinian people and culture. We would like to extend our thanks and gratitude to all Palestinian artists, who have been very supportive of this initiative.


    With your help and support we hope to accomplish the goals we have set for ourselves.

    -Resistance Art




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