Monday 19 February 2024

The Gaza Music School

 




This is a summary of the information I have received from Sima Khory Odeh, Executive Director of the Edward Said National Conservatory of Music in Ramallah about the Gaza Music School. 

The Music School was established in 2012 as a branch of the Edward Said National Conservatory of Music. It organised community outreach programs, festivals, concert seasons and music activities. It has affected the lives of thousands of Gazans under siege especially children and youth. 

A lot ot the teachers and students have lost family members, friends, neighbours and homes. Most are now displaced and lacking the basic needs of life. When Khamis Abushaban, the Administrative Assistant reached their building, located at the Red Crescent Society, he discovered that half of the structure had been heavily damaged. Musical instruments, equipment, and teaching tools were either burnt or destroyed. “The sole grand piano in Gaza survives as a witness to this destruction, eagerly awaiting the chance to be played again.”

While the genocide continues it has not been easy to plan any activities while we are sure that music would definitely help traumatized children and their families. If and when the situation allows, some musicians might conduct interactive music activities for children in schools and shelters. Some areas are very dangerous. Other areas allow a person to move in the vicinity of two kilometers which is not safe either. It has not been easy to plan any activities …The needs will be immense, but it is most important to stop the genocide and then we all need to work together with our friends and partners to try to bring music back to Gaza or what is left of it. .. We have to bring back the children to music as they need it more than ever.


                                     


Until now, we managed to establish a shelter and financially support around 40 musicians to get their basic needs. However, the needs are immense .

It seems that the word "human" can be used for some people but must not be used for those who take part, approve and support the genocide on Gaza.

Together we can make a difference to the lives of young Palestinians through music especially in Gaza which needs us now more than ever.

Gaza in our minds,

Sima Khory Odeh

To contact or support he Gaza Music School / Edward Said National Conservatory of Music in Palestine go here:  info@ncm.birzeit.edu



The following is Mahmoud Abuwarda’s tribute to Lubna Alyaan, an aspiring violinist martyred in Gaza.

On a quiet day amid the few serene days in Gaza, I met that calm girl with eyes full of determination and passion. Lubna Alyaan was preparing for an audition for a music scholarship at the Edward Said National Conservatory of Music, where I worked as a guitar teacher and academic supervisor. I will never forget the enthusiasm and passion that filled Lubna’s eyes. She told me with strong will that she wanted to study the violin, even though the violin class was full. My question to her was: Why the violin? She answered, “I love the violin passionately, and I want to become one of the world’s top violinists. That’s my dream.” When I saw her determination to learn the instrument and her profound love for it and music, I was moved to make an exception and accept her into the class despite the limited opportunities. Lubna performed brilliantly in the aptitude test and became a valuable addition to the class.For all of us at the Conservatory, it was gratifying to witness Lubna’s steady progress. We all loved Lubna’s diligence, enthusiasm, and joyful spirit. We assisted her in achieving her big dream by arranging violin lessons with teachers and musicians from outside Palestine, such as Tom Suárez, and also through PalMusic in London. As a teacher of music theory and classical music history, I will not forget Lubna’s passion during her lessons. As a composer, I always encouraged her to use what she learned in improvisation and to try composing some musical phrases. She showed a keen interest in musical composition, demonstrating meticulous attention to every detail in a musical piece. February 7, 2022, was my last day in Gaza due to the war in May of the previous year. In a difficult farewell moment with Lubna, I encouraged her to continue learning and pursuing her dream.



Lubna was martyred on the morning of November 21, 2023, after the bombing of Lubna’s aunt’s house in the city of Al-Nuseirat, south of Gaza City. This is despite the Israeli army declaring Al-Nusairat to be a safe zone. Lubna and her family had sought refuge in the south of Gaza for safety, but their home was bombed that morning, leading to the martyrdom of nearly 50 members of Lubna’s family. Her entire family has been wiped from the civil registry, like so many Palestinian families in Gaza.

I will preserve Lubna’s memory in the best way I know how — by writing music in her memory, in memory of her dream, in memory of her passion, in memory of the future stolen from her. I promise you, Lubna, to keep true to your dreams and to help share your story with the world.”




                                      DavidWilson

                                          1st Director, Pavarotti Music Centre

                                                          Mostar BiH


                                            








Monday 12 February 2024

Feinstein, advisor to Mandela, v Keir Starmer

 




Andrew Feinstein, a Jewish former South African MP and adviser to Nelson Mandela, is to stand against Starmer in Holborn and St Pancras in the next general election. The son of Holocaust survivors, he has a long record of principle that stands in stark contrast to Starmer’s mealy-mouthed call for a ‘sustainable’ ceasefire in Gaza, a code used to oppose an immediate ceasefire. Feinstein argues that the same tactics his ANC party in South Africa used to bring down apartheid there must be used against Israel. Starmer and his team are said to be ‘raging’ at the news and deeply concerned. At the next GE I will be dividing my time between supporting my MP, Jeremy Corbyn, in North Islington and taking the bus down the road to work for Feinstein in St Pancras and Holborn. Meanwhile we must return to the streets and stop the genocide.

Monday 29 January 2024

Diabetic children in Gaza

 




On January 24th the UN humanitarian relief coordinator for Gaza confirmed that Israeli authorities have blocked entry of insulin pens for diabetic children there.
Eylon Levy responded to this with “This is just made up. Israel has placed NO LIMITS on the entry of medicines and medical supplies into Gaza, and has facilitated that on a large scale.”
Even if the UN coordinator is lying the treatment of diabetes is not just dependent on a supply of insulin pens and insulin. Controlling diabetes means managing the health of the whole body. This necessitates a primary care provider, an endocrinologist, a diabetes care and education specialist and family or close friends able to understand and coordinate the child's diabetic care.
Gaza historically had 36 hospitals, but 85% of the territory's 2.3 million people are now displaced, and that includes health workers, doctors, nurses, surgeons and administrative staff.
I dread to think about the fate of diabetic children in the region with or without their pens. I was a co-founder of War Child at the time of the siege of Sarajevo in 1992/4 and helped take insulin into the city. We had to make sure that our insulin was kept refrigerated en route and that we were able to make contact with the children’s hospital there. You can ‘facilitate’ the entry of medicines, but without specialist care and oversight it is meaningless. Death becomes a certainty.

Sunday 21 January 2024

Enough

 




I am not going to post yet more photos of destruction in Gaza, of childrens’ ruined bodies in the rubble, of Israeli troops mocking their slaughtered victims. As a lifelong anti-fascist I am going to say ‘Enough’, ‘Suficiente’, Ya basta!,كافٍ’ , ‘מספיק’ ‘If it is enough for you too, what do we do?


Wednesday 17 January 2024

This is a moment of truth

 




Francesca Albanese, the UN’s special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the occupied Palestinian territories, Reem Alsalem, the special rapporteur on violence against women and girls and Pedro Arrojo Agudo, the special rapporteur on human rights, have warned that Gazans now account for 80 per cent of all people facing famine or catastrophic hunger worldwide. 

Currently, every single person in Gaza is hungry, a quarter of the population are starving and struggling to find food and drinkable water, and famine is imminent. It is unprecedented to make an entire civilian population go hungry this completely and quickly. Israel is destroying Gaza’s food system and using food as a weapon against the Palestinian people.”

Israeli forces have destroyed more than 60 percent of Palestinian homes in Gazam causing domicide through the mass destruction of dwellings, making the territory uninhabitable. 

"A lack of sufficient nutrition and healthcare is endangering the lives of pregnant women and their unborn children and all children under the age of five, about 335,000 in total, are highly susceptible to the effects of severe malnutrition as the threat of famine continues to grow.”

We have raised the alarm of the risk of genocide several times, reminding all governments they have a duty to prevent genocide. Our alarm for the unfolding genocide does not only refer to the ongoing bombardment of Gaza but also concerns the slow suffering and death caused by Israel’s long-standing occupation, blockade and current civic destruction, since genocide advances through an ongoing process and is not a singular event.”

Stéphane Dujarric, Spokesman for the UN Secretary-General adds that “The humanitarian system in Gaza is facing a total collapse with unimaginable consequences for more than 2 million civilians. Misery is growing by the minute. Everyone must assume their responsibilities. This is a moment of truth. History will judge us.”

How will history judge you? At the very least contact your friends, repost this, make sure you attend the next Palestine Solidarity demonstration, donate to Medical Aid for Palestine, write a poem, write what you think about the situation. Talk with your neighbours. Write to your MP. Raise the issues in your trade union. Join the Boycott campaign. 

You are not powerless.


STOP PRESS: 3 months ago there were 36 hospitals in Gaza. Today there are none


Monday 15 January 2024

Blocs and Balance

 



I went on the London Gaza/Palestine march on Saturday 13 January. It was the biggest yet. When I reached Trafalgar Square it was full and Whitehall was at a standstill with marchers unable to reach the also packed Parliament Square at the far end. I made my way back to the Embankment using side streets and it too was now at a standstill. I went up onto Hungerford bridge and saw the crowd reached at least as far back east as Waterloo bridge. Many hundreds of thousands.

As important as the size was the ‘spirit’. Multi-everything and the loudest and most militant there were the women. It also felt more like a new movement rather than a march and demonstration.

The next day a few thousand Zionists half-filled Trafalgar Square. Thee BBC reported both days as having been similar Saturday was, “Thousands protest for Palestine” and Sunday was “Thousands protest for Israel”. I guess that counts for media ‘balance.

The Israeli Ambassador, Tzipi Hotovely, ("every school. every 2nd house is a legitimate target") spoke and thanked King Charles, Rishi Sunak and Keir Starmer for supporting her state and speaking out for the UK’s Jewish ‘community’. I took this photo on Saturday and the Jewish bloc there might disagree with that lie.

A number of people are finding their FB links not getting spread out to their contacts and it seems likely that the algorithms are picking out words like ‘genocide, ‘Palestine’. ‘Gaza’. With mine too judging by the fewer ‘likes’ I get so am going to start posting mine on my website.


Wednesday 10 January 2024

Message from the Gaza Music School

As first director of the Pavarotti Music Centre in Mostar, Bosnia Herzegovina, I have received an update about the Gaza Music School.



"After three months, Khamis Abushaban, Administrative Assistant of the ESNCM branch in Gaza and a guitarist, finally reached it. Located at the Red Crescent Society emergency services building, Khamis discovered the door bombed open, with more than half of the structure burnt and heavily damaged. Musical instruments, equipment, and teaching tools were either burnt or damaged. 



These instruments and rooms had brought joy to countless boys, girls, families, and the wider community in Gaza. The impact of all this remains etched in their hearts and minds. The sole grand piano in Gaza survives, serving as a witness to this destruction and eagerly awaiting the chance to be played again.



We are committed to continuing to enrich people's lives through music."


Sima Khoury Odeh

Executive Director

Edward Said National Conservatory of Music