Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Tune into UN 194: the Sound of a Beautiful Resistance

Last month the UN voted overwhelmingly to recognize Palestine as the world’s 194th state. By an apt coincidence it was UN Resolution 194 (passed in 1948) that recognized the rights of Palestinian people to return to their homes after they were forcibly removed to make way for what would then be converted into the state of Israel. But 64 years on, they have not been allowed to return.

Many Israelis empathise with the plight of the Palestinians. They understand all too well what it means for a people to be told at gunpoint to leave their homes, and transported to camps to which they would be confined to their dying days. But their voices are blocked out by others who are oblivious to the cruel irony of telling Palestinians to put up with being permanently expelled from where they had lived all their lives.

In the face of such intransigence, what can Palestinian people do? What the media focus on is invariably where anger, frustration, resentment have reached boiling point and erupted in violence. Such violence then fuels stories about Palestinian threats and attacks on Israelis, serving as the backdrop for Israel’s military operations. For example, between 2000 and 2012, the media reported over 1,000 Israelis killed by Palestinians (during that time, 6,600+ Palestinians were killed by Israelis; see:

Tragically, the taking of innocent lives can only lead to a spiral of bloodshed. It is therefore all the more remarkable to find in this seemingly hopeless situation a path to what has been fittingly called acts of ‘Beautiful Resistance’. In 1998 Dr. Abdelfattah Abusrour set up the Alrowwad Cultural & Theatre Society ( to give young people in the Palestinian Aida Camp a chance to express themselves through the non-violent channels of art and drama.

Young people are not told to ignore the injustice that daily confronts them. Instead, they are guided to reflect on and show their feelings through a variety of aesthetic activities: dancing, taking photographs, and acting in plays. Neither they nor the outside world should forget what has happened to them, but there is no need for guns or explosives to remind people of what had gone wrong. In place of the counter-productive outbursts of violence, which would only beget more injuries and deaths, political energy is poured into a potent form of resistance.

You probably won’t hear about it in the mainstream media, but in March 2013, Alrowwad will be celebrating their 15th anniversary. They have kept going with the help of volunteers and donations. And they need help to carry their work forward.

This Christmas when ‘Bethlehem’ is whispered along with a gentle soundtrack, think not just of one child being born away from home, but of thousands – born, growing up, stranded in camps remote from the homes of their parents and grandparents.

To find out how you can support the Beautiful Resistance, go to:
Friends of Al-Rowwad (US):;
Friends of Alrowwad (UK):; or
Société des amis d’Alrowwad (France):