Resistance through culture: How Mondoweiss alerts the world to defiant art and culture

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Here is the latest message in our series, “Reporting Spreads Resistance.” We are honored that leaders in the movement for justice in Israel/Palestine have agreed to share what they value in Mondoweiss’s journalism in order to help us raise $120,000 by December 31. Please read Felice Gelman’s thoughts, and if you agree that the very act of documenting Israel’s crimes and disseminating the truth is an essential form of resistance, join her in giving. And please be sure to check out the messages from Diana Buttu, James Zogby, Laila Abdelaziz, Nadya Raja Tannous, and review highlights of our reporting from the past year!

It is hard to believe it’s been five years since the killing of my friend the great Juliano Mer Khamis, co-founder of The Freedom Theatre in Jenin refugee camp. As a longtime supporter of the Theatre’s artistic and political achievements, I remember clearly how I wept at that news—and I was grateful that Mondoweiss was there to cover it.

In 2012, when Zakaria Zubeidi, another Freedom Theatre co-founder, was jailed without charges by the Palestinian Authority, Mondoweiss was there. A month later, when the Israelis dragged artistic director Nabil al Raee off to jail in the middle of the night, Mondoweiss was there.

Donate to Mondoweiss TodaySince 2006, I’ve been closely involved with The Freedom Theatre, and I’ve learned a lot about the role of art and culture in resistance. I have been stunned by the unremitting repression and violence aimed at silencing cultural resistance, and I have no doubt about the importance of journalism in sustaining and spreading that resistance. That’s why I’m writing today to highlight the essential work of Mondoweiss in covering art and culture in Palestine, and to ask you to join me in supporting that work.

What’s allowed Palestinians to endure under a hostile and oppressive rule for seventy years? I’ve been involved with the Palestinian struggle in many ways and I know that one of its most important elements is culture. When the demonstrations are over, when loved ones are jailed, killed, or deported, when the means of subsistence are confiscated or destroyed, what sustains the community and creativity essential to survival?

Culture is a key. It’s where the heart speaks. It’s where the difficult questions are raised. It’s where civil society comes together in a common purpose and narrative.

With the upcoming inauguration of a U.S. government poised to be even less one of the people, even less responsive to the urgent needs of our society, even more inclined to be repressive, I’m thinking how can we learn from other struggles? How is our art and culture a foundation stone of resistance? To learn from Palestine, I need the information and the reporting that Mondoweiss provides every day.

Every colonial regime has made extreme efforts to erase indigenous culture. Every repressive nationalist regime has tried to muzzle art or force it into a stilted supporter of state policy. In Israel the attack begins by trying to erase the very name Palestinian but it continues as relentless campaign against writers and artists. Assassinations, arrests, closures, denials of travel permits are all in use. To fight back, we need to hear about this repression and we need to learn about cultural resistance.

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Poet Doreen Tatour as shown in social media campaign on her behalf

Mondoweiss’ great reporting on the ordeals of Dareen Tatour, Palestinian poet and citizen of Israel — well worth reading in its Kafkaesque entirety — is just one example this year. When Israel arbitrarily arrested Palestinian political cartoonist Mohammed Saba’aneh and held him in administrative detention, Mondoweiss was there. In each case, getting the story out was essential to mounting a global campaign of protest and winning the freedom of these artists.

Getting the stories out to the world is vital to defending the targets of cultural oppression and to making continued cultural resistance possible. I hope you will join me in supporting and contributing generously to Mondoweiss. We need it now and we will need it more every day.

About Felice Gelman

Felice Gelman is a member of the Wespac Middle East committee and is on the board of the Friends of the Jenin Freedom Theatre

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3 Responses

  1. RobertB
    December 29, 2016, 11:41 am

    And Obama’s administration had it share of zionists….neo-cons ….! His first cabinet pick was Rahm Emmanuel… chief of staff….

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