My maternal grandmother had 5 children. Then came 12 grandchildren. Now there are 9 great-grandchildren. With the exception of my grandmother, who lived a long and healthy life into her nineties, everyone is alive and well.
On the steps of the Human Rights Monument this Friday night in Ottawa, a Palestinian matriarch, with a cane in one hand and a flag in the other, slowly walked up to position herself in front of the faces of the children that have died in the recent attacks on Gaza. She smiled at the living children who ran up and down the steps around her in preparation for the ceremony. These children – in running shoes, cute sandals, sporty sunglasses and “The Amazing SpiderMan” shorts – are safe and sound in Canada.
This woman is probably in her seventies meaning she was born at a time when Israel had already begun its war on Palestine. Her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren have only known the story of war and never the story of peace.
I think again of my grandmother. She never had to witness the death of one of her children or grandchildren.
One child walked to the microphone. Stumbling on his words with the cracking voice of an adolescent boy transitioning into a young adult, he shared with the crowd that this week 9 of his extended family were killed in Gaza.
9 members wiped out. I struggle as to how to act in this moment. He can’t be more than 13. He has probably known more deaths in his family then years of his life.
I want children to be able to be just children with grandmothers who watch over them with laughter without wondering if today will be the last time they see their little ones play.
Palestinian director Hany Abu-Assad succeeds again at telling an important story.
Mark Twain said that “truth is stranger than fiction” because “fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities; Truth isn’t” which makes the film Omar, the fictional account of three childhoods friends, even more devastating as this fiction is the plausible reality of those living today in occupied Palestine.
Palestinian Director Hany Abu-Assad’s film is a thriller and a love story. The movie twists and turns as quickly as the main character Omar runs through the narrow passageways of the Nablus medina to escape Mossad, the Israeli Secret Service. Amjad, one of the childhood friends, asks the others “Do you know how they catch monkeys in Africa?” By getting them addicted to sugar cubes. Amjad describes how they pour the sweetness into a hole just large enough for the monkey to stick his hand into but small enough he cannot pull out when the hunters descend. Trapped the monkey still clings to the cubes.
The sweetness of Omar’s love for his best friend Tarek’s sister is what keeps bringing him back to the hole eventually trapping him into the Mossad’s madness that turns friend against friend and lover against lover. There is no exit the characters can take for this story to end positively.
Israeli Apartheid Week 2014 and how you can help support the people of Palestine.
“I do not want to appropriate resistance and neither do you. But stories, poetry, music, art, farming, dancing, singing, and laughter are beautiful because they baffle us with unanswered questions. Because they fumble with the idea of stability and fragility. Because they allow us to reconnect with each other and imagine a collective space of meeting. They help us see Haifa connected to Cairo and Beirut and help us see Turtle Island in its colourful past, deconstructing the grey buildings that occupy its present.”
Many must feel like the monkey trapped with his hand in the hole but perhaps a love story for land that unites a global movement for social justice may be the inspired sweetness to collectively dream a way out.
You can purchase Zatoun Olive Oil (truly the best olive oil in my opinion!!!) produced by a collective in Palestine at Beit Zatoun’s Toronto location in Mirvish Village – 612 Markham St. (1 minute from Bathurst subway stop on Bloor line, Markham St. exit)
“Proceeds are used to directly benefit Palestinian farmers and children living in occupied Palestine and to create awareness for peace in Palestine…Zatoun helps to create a context based in ordinary everyday life to view and discuss the situation in Palestine-Israel.”
In Ottawa Omar will be screening at the Bytowne Cinema Ottawa this week during the following times:
I focus on a continuous line that I choreograph the dance of life for.
“In one line, Nissim draws an entire world of human images that move through imagined space and that create the infinite motion of relationships and hierarchies amongst themselves. On one hand, more is hidden from the view than is revealed to him. On the other hand, viewing the work means rummaging through the depths of the soul that emerge from the images.”
I am an expressive artist, I use a technique of action painting. With this technique I don’t plan the idea beforehand. I draw free from logic.
I draw a single line that creates a world of human texture. In one motion, I form my sketch.
The figures move in an empty space and form an endless motion amongst themselves.
When viewers look at my artwork, they can understand my thoughts and read my story between the lines. This story is built upon harmony, balance, dependency, longing / nostaligia.
All of my work talks about the relationships between people. If you follow a line closely
you will discover an entire world of figures that connect with each other.