Cello Sounds Lost Like Tears in the Rain: A Palestinian Grandfather’s Story
This recent simple email correspondence shows one example of how Israel’s apartheid system tears away at the precious relationship between a grandfather and his grandaughter. Samia only wanted to do what all grandparents would do, hear his grandchild perform what she had been practicing for weeks, her cello, in a special concert. The concert in Jerusalem was cancelled because Israel refused to grant the apartheid permits to the Palestinian children from the West Bank [obviously, such permits to enter Jerusalem are never required from Israelis]. Email follows:
January 24, 2012
Friends and family who know me well know how I would love to hibernate in winter. I am just not a winter person, and I would never contemplate stepping out of the house on a rainy day, especially these days when my falls have become unpredictable. Last Sunday seemed to be a nice sunny day, but by noon it turned to be a very rainy and wet day. The Jerusalem children’s orchestra of the Edward Said National Conservatory was scheduled to perform at the Cultural Palace in Ramallah, and the next day at the National Theatre in Ramallah. I already made up my mind to go the next day to Jerusalem and avoid the drive through Kalandia where the road ends up more like a river when the heavy rains fall. But alas the last minute the concert in Jerusalem was cancelled because the children from the West Bank were not granted permits. For the love of my granddaughter, (name withheld), who plays the cello with the orchestra, I was not going to hibernate on that dreadful Sunday afternoon. The children had spent the last three days at the music camp site in Birzeit training for that concert, and they did a marvelous job. As I listened to a lovely variety – Chopin, Sousa, Gershwin, Vivaldi and others, I could not but wonder, why would the Israeli authority prevent children ages 11-16 to get into Jerusalem. Are their violins, cello’s , bassoons, or trumpets any threat to the security of Israel? Or is it one more harassing measure to deprive the children and the community from a little bit of pleasure?? They grudge us even that much while they claim they are the centre of enlightenment and culture. Samia
Jane responds by email :
What always amazes me , is the way you relate these family stories which are quietly painful by comparison to so much we read about through the media, with so much dignity and patience.
I share it with my artistic friends. We can immediately empathise with your frustration, after all its what we do too. Our children after a culmination of no doubt hard work get together and play music to perform to a live audience. It is of course encouraged as a most common and necessary practise for those who are gifted musically in all societies.
However the children you speak off effectively are in an open air prison. Their movement is restricted. Their incarceration of course is illegal and inhumane firstly because they have been charged with no crime.
In order to remain measured and rational one attempts to regard both sides. The Israelis after all claim that everything they do, what may seem an abomination to us, is due to their security.
Undoubtedly if a violin, definately if a cello was omitted from its case there is indeed room for explosive devises or an assortment of armaments to be smuggled into Jerusalem, however Kalandia checkpoint is equiped with high surveilance Xray machines and one could no more smuggle armamants through it than at an International airport anywhere in the world. So what then are the Israelis really afraid off ?
You generously suggest that their decission was due to harrasssment and depriving the community of pleasure , but I think we can conclude it goes deeper than that.
Indeed the Israeli claim of their own enlightenment and culture all part and parcel of democratic values they claim is lacking across the region, is used as a justification for their brutality maintaining their stranglehold.
In order to sustain their prejudice, their false claims, Palestinians must be seen as philistines. Their real enemies are not the stone throwers or a violent mob, not even a lone gunman, but instead the ones who are fortunate to grow up with a varied education, who are able to express themselves and communicate with confidence. Their enemies are the ones who are able to take command of a platform and through a composed presence under a spotlight express the truth whether through music or other art forms.
There is no justification for splitting up an orchestra, no justification for maintaining dischord and doubt amongst an emerging generation. Its just definitely more example of the bullying schizophrenic state of mind of the occupier.
My thoughts as always are with you
This post first appeared at http://boycott-israel-harp-contest.posterous.com/cello-sounds-lost-like-tears-in-the-rain-a-pa