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SATURDAYS ARE FOR CULTURE

Palestine’s Olive Trees Provide More than Delicious Food (Washington Report on Middle East Affairs)

Dale Sprusansky writes: "Nasser Abufarha, the founder of Canaan Palestine, participated in a webinar on Nov. 9 to discuss the Palestinian olive oil business. The event was hosted by Zaytoun, a UK-based distributor of Palestinian artisanal goods."

"Canaan Palestine is known for its high-quality organic olive oil, as well as other food items, such as spices, grains and tapenades. The Washington Report’s bookstore, Middle East Books and More, has proudly sold Canaan’s products for decades."

"Abufarha began by reflecting on what the olive tree means to Palestinians. “The olive tree in Palestine is the majestic tree,” he said. “For us, it’s a symbol of our identity as a people….This is the home of the olive tree, it’s indigenous to the land, and so are we.”

"Many olive trees in Palestine are over 1,000 years old, with some even believed to be 2,000-3,000 years old. Abufarha said the longevity of the olive plant offers Palestinians a sense of timelessness and generational unity. “These trees have been living and feeding us for thousands of years,” he noted. “Past generations have planted so we can eat, and we plant so future generations will eat.”
Seven Decades of Palestinian History: An Introduction to Tawfiq Canaan’s Autobiography (This Week in Palestine)

Mitri Raheb writes: "Autobiographies give a unique eyewitness account of historical events experienced by one particular person, an account of a life with all its ups and downs, struggles and failures, successes and setbacks. They invite us to look at history not from a distant bird’s-eye view, but through the eyes of one person’s own personal reality." 

"Tawfiq Canaan started to write his autobiography in English in a pharmaceutical diary dated 1956, just a few months after his retirement in May 1955. Although still in good health, he must have had the feeling that time was slowly running out, that life was slowly but surely fading away...It must have taken him only a few months to write his memoirs."

"Canaan recounts a very rich life and offers fresh insights into the family story of someone who played an important role in the cultural life of his country. He recalls the socioeconomic and political history of Palestine through the unique prism of his access to different strata in Palestinian society, something few others could replicate. Canaan’s autobiography spans a period of seven decades of Palestinian history, from the late-Ottoman to the early-Jordanian period: a condensed history of the whole country of Palestine."

"Through his words, we live the history of a whole nation, we feel the tectonic shift that took place in Palestine as one empire replaced another and as Jewish immigrants replaced the displaced Palestinians. The personal element in this autobiography is incomparable with historical and political analyses."
 
I Thought I Was Seeing Palestinians: On Kamal Aljafari (Cinema Scope)

"At the end of Kamal Aljafari’s latest film, An Unusual Summer, the Palestinian filmmaker recalls a memory from his childhood, centred on the communal garden outside of his home in the city of Ramlah, a 30-minute drive southeast of Tel Aviv:

"As a child I spent summer
climbing the fig tree
filling straw baskets with green figs
big as apples
My sister was more courageous
than me
Our bodies itching from the fig leaves
My uncle Issa came back one day
I overheard that the Red Cross
allowed him to visit his mother
It was a hot summer
perhaps August
he spent every day in the garden
cleaning and digging
around the fig tree
Before he left he engraved my name
on the fig tree
Years later the bulldozers came
uprooted the garden and tree"
The Palestinian City, the Song, and Settler Colonial Gentrification: On “Better than Berlin” by Faraj Suleiman and Majd Kayyal (Jadaliyya)

Hashem Abu Shama writes: "Palestinian singer, Faraj Suleiman, has released an album in collaboration with the novelist, and songwriter Majd Kayyal. Titled “Better than Berlin,” the album was initially livestreamed on Facebook and then released on various platforms, including Soundcloud and Spotify." 

"Its songs grapple with the conundrums that undergird the Palestinian realities in contemporary Haifa. It covers a wide range of topics from love, migration, the city, gentrification, marriage, to the “monster” that continuously reproduces the city."

"This album was produced in the midst of the global pandemic. The process was particularly challenging[SS1] , as Suleiman’s band is based in Paris. “I worked with my band via Zoom, which was a challenge,” he said. The recording, mixing and mastering took place in Paris, and he joined the band via zoom."

"At times, the album sounds like the reminiscing of a character who has recently moved to Berlin. At others, it examines Haifa through a critical and even cynical lens. It attempts to address the contradictory realities of Palestinians living in Haifa, a city that has emerged in the last two decades as a de facto urban cultural center for Palestinians living within the so-called ‘Green Line’ (the line agreed upon in the 1949 Armistice Agreement)."
White Savior Cinema (Jewish Currents)

Rebecca Pierce speaks to Lexi Alexander  "The much-anticipated Christmas Day release of Wonder Woman: 1984 was met with immediate controversy over its depiction of Arabs and the Middle East." 

"Much of the online criticism of the film centers around its depictions of an Egyptian Emir and an Arab terrorist trying to obtain nuclear weapons, as well as scenes that many viewers felt shared jarring resonances with the violence Palestinians face under Israeli occupation."

"One scene drew particular ire: Wonder Woman lassoes a rocket to protect four Arab children playing soccer, which many felt was reminiscent of the high-profile killing of four boys from the same family who were playing soccer on a beach during the 2014 Israeli bombing of Gaza." 

"This was all the more loaded given previous controversies over Wonder Woman star and co-producer Gal Gadot’s role as an IDF training officer during the 2006 Lebanon War, and a Facebook post she made in support of the IDF during the war in which the boys were killed."

"Palestinian German filmmaker Lexi Alexander was quick to use her platform to signal boost the wave of online critiques of the film from young viewers of color. A seasoned director who has closely studied, and worked to challenge, the depictions of Arabs and Palestinians in Hollywood films, Alexander immediately recognized the tropes being described." 
From Palestine to the World, the Militant Film of the PLO (New York Review of Books)

Kaleem Hawa writes: "The Palestine Film Unit emerged in the late 1960s with the aim of situating Palestine in the global anti-colonial struggle."

"During this time, the PLO, like other anti-colonial movements of the era, also turned to the arts to carry its message to a wider audience—developing a counterinformation program aimed at broadening the battlefield of the Palestinian resistance."

"The initial films highlighted material elements of Palestinian disenfranchisement and death, modeling the aesthetics of other anti-imperialist movements at the time, like those in Cuba, Vietnam, and Angola." 

"PLO fighters were notably inspired by their Vietnamese comrades—the fedayeen, or guerrillas, in fact, traveled to Vietnam to learn resistance tactics from the Vietcong, some even taking noms de guerre such as Abu Khaled Hanoi."

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