Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘Allenby Bridge

Session One: TEDx Ramallah in Beirut (Sunflower theater)

TEDxRamallah was held in Betlehem (Beit Lahm) in the Palestinian occupied West Bank and many participated live from Beirut (Sunflower theater) and Amman (Jordan).  Many speakers were refused visa entry by the Israeli authorities, and most of the speakers had hard time reaching destination, traveling to many airports and cities, waiting in many Israeli check points before reaching Bethlehem.  For example, the US author Alice Walker (The Color Purple) had hard time crossing the Allenby Bridge.

The Israelis submitted her to four hours of silly questioning, just one of Israel harassment tactics.  The Israeli soldier had never heard of Alice or read any of her books or seen the Color Purple.  By the by, the computer search revealed information on Alice; Alice was confronted with one of her pronouncement that she will never visit Israel as long as Palestinians are under occupation.  Alice retorted: “Am I in Israel?  I am invited to Bethlehem among Palestinians.”  Alice recollected that in 1967 she asked one American politician: “Obviously, Israel will withdraw from the recent occupied lands in Sinai and the Golan Heights.” The answer was: “Israel needs all these lands”.  Alice knows that all these check points, barriers, Wall of Shame separating the West Bank from Israel proper, and apartheid policies are not sustainable and will be removed by force of the indignant Palestinians.

I attended the event in Beirut that officially started at 10 am to the end at around 8pm.  In addition to speakers, we watched performances by singles and group singers and musicians.  A large panel was exhibiting constant streams of comments arriving from over 40 cities around the world.  Food were served during the two breaks and at lunchtime around 2pm and the quantities were generous:  The event was well managed and the organizers were dedicated young entrepreneurs.

All the talks are in video on the internet.  My contribution is to extending essential summaries of the speeches so that readers may have opportunity to selecting whom and which video they want to listen to.

The Palestinian organizers are Ramzi Jaber (25 years old) and Jamil Abu Wardeh…; in Lebanon we have Joumana Jabiri and Zena Tahhan…Huwaida Arraf gave a talk and was one of the presenters.

Huwaida Arraf was under great emotional pressures because one of her best friend and activist colleague, the Italian Vittorion Arrigoni, was kidnapped and shot in Gaza the day before.  Vittorio Arrigoni refused to leave the occupied Palestinian lands since 2002 and participated in the demonstrations and peaceful activities everywhere villages needed his presence.  He was ill lately and suffered from kidney stone and was about ready to leave to Italy for health treatments. Huwaida had lost another friend activist a month ago, the assassinated young movie director Juliano Khamis.

Huwaida was born in the US and graduated a lawyer and settled in the West Bank during the first Intifada around 1990 and never left Palestine since then; Huwaida’s mother called her from Ohio asking her to return home.  Huwaidda replied: “But mother I am at home”.  Huwaida’s husband Adam Shapiro is denied entry to Israel and is living in Lebanon.

Huwaida started International Solidarity with the Palestinians and over 4,000 foreign activists have joined her peaceful struggle against Israel ignominies such as building the Wall of Shame, demolishing Palestinian private houses, rooting out ancient olive trees for colony expansions, opening newer highways to circumventing Palestinian villages, and overrunning Palestinian camps in Jenine, Jabaliya…Huwaida Arraf is currently the Chairperson of the Free Gaza Movement and has led 5 successful sea voyages to the Gaza Strip: She was on the flotilla that was savagely attacked by Israeli troops that killed a dozen peaceful Turkish activists.

In the first session we lacked focus on the speakers, but things improved after the first break.  The first session hosted Raja Shehadeh, Gisel Kordestani, Mohammad Khatib, Fadi Ghandour, and Huwaida Arraf.

The second session hosted Amal Shehabi. Sam Bahour, Steve Sosebee, Mohammad al Dahshan, the Palestinian singer Rim Al Banna, Julia Basha (Director of the award winning movie Budrus), and Munir Fasheh.

The third session welcomed  Abdelrahman Katanany (the zinko artworks), the Lebanese-based Palestinian rap group Katibe 5,  Alessandro Petti, Saleh Jawad, Sheerin Al Araj, and the blind psychologist Laila Atshan.

The fourth session hosted Wael Attili (the Kharabeesh enterprise based in Amman), Khaled Sab3awi, the Mexican/US rap singer Mark Gonzales, Alice Walker, Suad Amiry, and the group of bagpipe players of Guirab.  The session ended with the Fayha group of 40 young singers singing three beautiful songs and led by maestro Barkev Taslakian.

Part two of this series will cover in some details the content of the talks.  See you soon.

William and Hanane gave me ride to the event.  We were supposed to leave at 8:15 but we started off at 9:30.  By 9 am I thought that William had forgotten to go.  As I arrived, my name was not listed as my application was approved.  It didn’t matter, the beautiful girl with blue eyes stamped a red X on my right hand.

During the first break, I had no idea the small breakfast buffet was served outside.  I had a small mankoush and a small cup of milk, five minutes before the second session.  At lunch, I used to sneak out one sandwich at a time, while people were waiting in line to fill their plastic plate.  I was very surprised that another buffet was waiting for us at the second break, and we had sweet “maacroun”.

When the official TEDx event was over around 7pm, we had a surprise.  While listening to a speaker, a large bunch of young people sneaked in.  I thought student s from around the corner came in by order of a dedicated teacher.  This group of about 40 began a song while sitting among us; they ended up on stage and sang two other songs.

I waited for William outside, knowing that he had to hurry in order to cover the launching of a CD at a restaurant.  I waited for 20 minutes and wondered whether William left without me.  I returned and looked for William or Hanane and could not locate them anywhere.  I waited another 15 minutes thinking that pretty soon they will miss their silent passenger and make a U turn to retrieve me.  Patricia was going out and she confirmed that William is still here, meeting with someone in a corner downstairs.

We were the last persons leaving the theater and I met Joumana Jabiri and Zeina Tahhane.  Zeina claimed that she ate nothing for the day:  I have to check on Zeina reliable claim on her eating habit. I also met with Joumana parents who are originally from Aleppo.  It was way after 10:30 when we arrived home.  I felt tired even though I didn’t work in the garden today:  Most probably, I missed my nap but I focused pretty well during the entire event.

Note 1:  A TEDx Lebanon is in the planning for this September 2011.  Among the organizers are Patricia Zogheib and William Choukeir…

Note 2:  Palvoices.wordpress.com of DevlnetMedia/Hibr.me worked with a group of 10 Palestinian young media students to covering the event in Beirut.

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