April 2, 2009
But the event had another twist: Most of the Holocaust survivors did not know the youths were Palestinians from the West Bank, a rare sight in Israel these days.
And the youths had no idea they were performing for people who lived through Nazi genocide ~ or even what the Holocaust was.
"I feel sympathy for them," said Ali Zeid, an 18-year-old keyboard player, who added that he was shocked by what he learned about the Holocaust, in which the Nazis killed 6 million Jews in their campaign to wipe out European Jewry.
"Only people who have been through suffering understand each other," said Zeid, who said his grandparents were Palestinian refugees forced to flee the northern city of Haifa during the war that followed Israel's creation in 1948.
The 13 musicians, aged 11 to 18, belong to Strings of Freedom, a modest orchestra from the Jenin refugee camp in the northern West Bank, the scene of a deadly 2002 battle between Palestinian militants and Israeli soldiers
The event, held at the Holocaust Survivors Center in this tree-lined central Israeli town, was part of Good Deeds Day, an annual event run by an organization connected to billionaire Shari Arison, Israel's richest woman.
The two-hour meeting starkly highlighted how distant Palestinians and Israelis have become after more than eight years of bloody Palestinian militant attacks and deadly Israeli military reprisals.
Most of the Palestinian youths had not seen an Israeli civilian before ~ only gun-toting soldiers in military uniforms manning checkpoints, conducting arrest raids of wanted Palestinians or during army operations.
"They don't look like us," said Ahed Salameh, 12, who wore a black head scarf woven with silver.
Most of the elderly Israelis wore pants and T-shirts, with women sporting a smear of lipstick.
"Old people look different where we come from," Salameh said.
She said she was shocked to hear about the Nazi genocide against Jews. Ignorance and even denial of the Holocaust is widespread in Palestinian society.
Amnon Beeri of the Abraham Fund, which supports coexistence between Jews and Arabs, said most of the region's residents have no real idea about the other.
The youths said their feisty conductor, Wafa Younis, 50, tried to explain to them who the elderly people were, but chaos on the bus prevented them from listening.
The elderly audience said they assumed Arab children were from a nearby village ~ not from the refugee camp where 23 Israeli soldiers were killed, alongside 53 Palestinian militants and civilians, in several days of battle in April 2002.
Some 30 elderly survivors gathered in the center's hall as teenage boys and girls filed in 30 minutes late ~ delayed at an Israeli military checkpoint outside their town, they later explained.
Some of the young women wore Muslim head scarves ~ but also sunglasses and school ties.
As a host announced in Hebrew that the youths were from the Jenin refugee camp, there were gasps and muttering from the crowd. "Jenin?" one woman asked in jaw-dropped surprise.
Younis, from the Arab village of Ara in Israel, then explained in fluent Hebrew that the youths would sing for peace, prompting the audience to burst into applause.
"Inshallah," said Sarah Glickman, 68, using the Arabic term for God willing.
The encounter began with an Arabic song, "We sing for peace," and was followed by two musical pieces with violins and Arabic drums, as well as an impromptu song in Hebrew by two in the audience.
Glickman, whose family moved to the newly created Jewish state in 1949 after fleeing to Siberia to escape the Nazis, said she had no illusions the encounter would make the children understand the Holocaust. But she said it might make a small difference.
"They think we are strangers, because we came from abroad," Glickman said. "I agree: It's their land, also. But there was no other option for us after the Holocaust."
Later, she tapped her feet in tune as the teenagers played a catchy Mideast drum beat. After the event, some of the elderly Israelis chatted with students and took pictures together.
The encounter was not absent of politics. Younis dedicated a song to an Israeli soldier held captive by Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip ~ and also criticized Israel's occupation of the West Bank.
But she said the main mission of the orchestra, formed seven years ago to help Palestinian children overcome war trauma, was to bring people together.
"I'm here to raise spirits," Younis said. "These are poor, old people."
By Khalid Amayreh in Occupied East Jerusalem
29 March, 2009
What will happen next? Will Palestinian kids be duped into playing music to Israeli pilots who exterminated Gaza children with White Phosphorus?
It is really hard to write on this subject without getting angry. We all know the extent to which Israel can be evil and satanic. After all, we Palestinians have been on the receiving end of Israeli savagery for decades.
In fact, being thoroughly tormented and killed by the children, grandchildren and great grandchildren of the holocaust has always been and continues to be “the” Palestinians’ way of life.
However, for some Palestinians to allow themselves to be duped to sing and play music to their oppressors and child-killers is simply beyond the pale of human dignity.
It is at least as insulting and humiliating as some Jews were forced or duped to play music to SS, Gestapo and Wehrmacht soldiers during the Second World War. In both cases, the act was meant to humiliate the victims and rob them of the last visages of human dignity.
And now, Jews in Israel are doing the same thing to Palestinians, Nazism’s vicarious victims.
Last week, a few innocent kids from the Jenin refugee camp were surreptitiously taken to Tel Aviv to “cheer up and take part in peace-promoting activities.”
However, once there the kids were unceremoniously driven to a reception where they were made to play music and sing to “holocaust survivors,” some of them are former members of the Hagana and Irgun terrorist gangs who had taken part in the ethnic cleansing of Palestine and expulsion of Palestinians form their homeland.
God knows how much Palestinian blood did these so-called “holocaust survivors” shed in 1948 and subsequent years. Certainly, Deir Yasin, Tantura, Dawaymeh, and the numerous other massacres were not committed by UFOs. They were committed in cold blood by these very people our children are now cheering up.
Shame on us a thousand times!
Some of the kids were instructed to utter words that should never be uttered by the victims of Zionism. One of the participants reportedly dedicated a special song to Gilad Shalit, an Israeli soldier taken prisoner by Palestinian fighters in Gaza nearly three years ago.
No mention, not even an allusion, was made of the estimated 10,000 Palestinian political and resistance prisoners languishing in Israeli dungeons and concentration camps.
But the kids apparently felt they had to say anything they were asked to say in order to show gratitude for the Jewish “peace contractor” who got them out of the ghetto, otherwise known as Jenin refugee camp, even for a six-our outing in Tel Aviv.
I am not against showing genuine sympathy with the victims of the holocaust. However, a sympathy that is manipulated to justify, rationalize or even extenuate the crime against humanity that is Israel is worse than a crime if only because it serves to promote and perpetuate oppression.
As human beings, we Palestinians do sympathize with all victims of Nazism, Stalinism and imperialism, the wept, the over-wept, and especially the unwept who constitute the vast majority of victims.
Having said that, however, I strongly believe that no honest person under the sun has the slightest right to demand that we pay the price for what the Nazis did or may have done to European Jews nearly 70 years ago.
We didn’t send Jews to the ovens. The Germans did. We didn’t starve Jews to death as Jews are starving us today in the Gaza Strip.
We didn’t incinerate Jews in Gas chambers as Jews have recently incinerated Palestinian children with White Phosphorus.
Hence, of all people in this world, Palestinians must never be made to feel guilty for what the Nazis and other Europeans did to Jews. I say so because a feeling of guilt, even a modicum of guilt, on our part, would be construed or misconstrued as a vindication of Zionism, the Nazism of our time.
There are additional reasons that make the latest insensitive manipulation of Palestinian suffering especially ugly and dishonorable.
First, nearly all the young musicians who were taken to Tel Aviv came from the Jenin Refugee camp. For those who have forgotten, this is the very same refugee camp that Israeli tanks pulverized in 2002.
According to eyewitnesses, Israeli tanks and bulldozers destroyed homes right on top of innocent civilians, including the physically handicapped, while dozens of innocent civilians were systematically massacred, very much like Jews were at Ghetto Warsaw.
The massacre at the camp was so hideous that Israel refused to allow UN officials to access the camp to inspect what happened. Well, again the Nazi analogy is inescapable. Just imagine surviving Jewish children from Treblinka or Bergen Belsen made to sing to SS soldiers!!
Second, the disgraceful concert in Tel Aviv comes on the heel of Israel’s genocidal assault in Gaza where Israeli warplanes showered the children, women and men of coastal enclave with White Phosphorus and other missiles and bombs of death while Israeli Jews were gleefully celebrating the “victory on Hamas” and Israeli rabbis preoccupied with classifying gentiles into “children of light” and “children of darkness.”
In Gaza, the Zionist Jews exposed their shame to all the people of the world by acting like primitive barbarians and murderous savages.
Hence, the utter shamefulness of sending Palestinian children to Tel Aviv to help Israel’s hasbara efforts whitewash Israel’s pornographic barbarianism in Gaza.
Finally, it is obvious that the PA bears much of the blame for this disgraceful event. The PA should never allow so called “cultural exchanges” and “cultural normalization” with the murderers of our children, the very state whose leaders and military commanders view us as “scum, vermin and animals” that ought to be exterminated.
Unfortunately, the PA itself encourages some demoralized Palestinians to endear themselves to Israel, even in the cheapest of manners.
The often cordial meetings and exchanging of kisses between Mahmoud Abbas and Ehud Olmert, the butcher of Gaza, leave one and only impression, not only on the children of the refugee camp in Jenin, but also on TV viewers around the world.
Perhaps the Israel artillery and war planes were showering Gaza with candy, not White Phosphorus!!!
Palestinian youth orchestra disbanded
over concert for Holocaust survivors
Palestinian authorities disbanded a youth orchestra from a West Bank refugee camp after it played for a group of Holocaust survivors in Israel, a local official said on Sunday.
Adnan Hindi of the Jenin camp called the Holocaust a political issue and accused conductor Wafa Younis of unknowingly dragging the children into a political dispute.
He added that Younis has been barred from the camp and the apartment where she taught the 13-member Strings of Freedom orchestra has been boarded up.
"She exploited the children," said Hindi, the head of the camp's popular committee, which takes on municipal duties. "She will be forbidden from doing any activities…. We have to protect our children and our community."
The move highlights the sensitivity of many Palestinians over acknowledging Jewish suffering, fearing it would weaken their own historical grievances against Israel.
"The Holocaust happened, but we are facing a similar massacre by the Jews themselves," Hindi said. "We lost our land, and we were forced to flee and we've lived in refugee camps for the past 50 years."
Six million Jews were killed in the Nazi Holocaust of World War II, and hundreds of thousands of Jewish survivors emigrated to Israel after the war.
Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians either fled or were expelled from their homes in the war that followed Israel's creation - an event known by Palestinians as their Naqba, or catastrophe.
Kaynan Rabino, director of Ruach Tova, or Good Spirit, the charity that organized the event, said he was disappointed to hear about the reaction in Jenin.
"They approached us and volunteered to play. Wafa knew the orchestra would play before Holocaust survivors," he said. "We wanted to bring people's hearts closer together and if they are against that then that's a real shame."
Hindi said Palestinians - especially in his hardscrabble cinder block refugee camp - had suffered at the hands of Israel and demanded their grievances be acknowledged first.
The refugee camp in the northern West Bank was the scene of a deadly April 2002 battle where 23 Israeli soldiers were killed, alongside 53 Palestinian militants and civilians, in several days of battle. The clash destroyed swathes of the refugee camp.
The camp's residents are descendants of Palestinians who were displaced during Israel's war of independence.
The youths, aged 11 to 18, of the modest orchestra performed a goodwill concert for elderly survivors in the Israeli town of Holon Wednesday.
The event, held at the Holocaust Survivors Center in the central Israeli town, was part of Good Deeds Day, an annual event run by an organization connected to billionaire Shari Arison, Israel's richest woman.
Hindi said the children's parents were not aware that the orchestra would play for Holocaust survivors.
Younis was not immediately available for comment Sunday. But as the controversy erupted over the weekend, she said Saturday that her intention was purely to perform music. "We didn't do anything wrong," she said.
MY $.02 WORTH.
NO MATTER HOW EVERYONE ELSE FEELS, PALESTINIAN PARENTS, POLITICIANS, ETC ETC. IT SEEMS TO ME THAT THE MAIN CHARACTERS IN THIS STORY ARE THE CHILDREN OF PALESTINE AND THE SENIORS OF JERUSALEM. IN BOTH CASES THESE PEOPLE WERE INNOCENT REGARDING THE WHOLE SCENARIO WHICH IN MY MIND HAS BEEN BLOWN WAY OUT OF PROPORTION.
THE CHILDREN DID NOT LOOK SCARRED OR SCARED, AND THE SENIORS SEEMED TO BE TOUCHED. HEAVEN KNOWS BOTH SETS OF PEOPLE HAVE DIFFERENT TRIALS TO FACE. IN BOTH CASES A LITTLE JOY CAN GO A LONG WAY.
AS DAUGHTER OF A MUCH OLDER WOMAN, I GO TO GREAT ENDS TO BRING HER PEACE AND PROTECT HER FROM THE EVILS OF TODAY'S WORLD. IT IS WORTH EVERY BIT OF MY EFFORTS. SO I CAN RELATE TO THESE ELDERS, REGARDLESS OF THEIR PASTS. THEY DID NOT EVEN KNOW WHO THESE CHILDREN WERE!
AS FOR THE CHILDREN, THEY SEEMED TO LEARN SOMETHING AND ALSO TAKE AWAY A FEW VALUABLE LESSONS. THEY LEARNED ABOUT AN EVENT THEY SEEM TO NOT HAVE BEEN AWARE OF AND THAT OLD PEOPLE ARE OLD PEOPLE ALL AROUND THE WORLD. TO ME THAT IS A HUMANITARIAN LESSON. THESE LESSONS COULD HAVE BEEN POSITIVE IF HANDLED PROPERLY.
INSTEAD, THEIR MUSIC TEACHER HAS BEEN BANNED AND THEIR MUSIC HAS BEEN TAKEN FROM THEM. THIS IS JUST NOT RIGHT THAT THEY BE COLLECTIVELY PUNISHED BECAUSE SOME UNTHINKING ADULTS, WHATEVER THEIR MOTIVES MIGHT HAVE BEEN, INVOLVED THEM IN THIS EVENT.
FOR ONCE, I SAY SHAME TO THE PEOPLE WHO HAVE TAKEN AWAY WHAT GIVES THESE CHILDREN JOY. THAT IS THE SHAME! THEY HAVE LOST SOMETHING THAT ELEVATED THEIR SPIRITS AND GIFTED THEM WITH THE BEAUTY OF THE MUSICAL SPHERE, SO NECESSARY CONSIDERING THEIR DAY TO DAY LIVES. SHAME ON YOU!