PA dismantles W. Bank youth orchestra

Israeli Arab who conducted concert for Holocaust survivors in Holon last week banned from city.

By AP
March 29, 2009 00:19
2 minute read.
PA dismantles W. Bank youth orchestra

jenin kids concert survivors 248 88. (photo credit: AP)

Palestinian authorities disbanded a youth orchestra from a West Bank refugee camp after it played for a group of Holocaust survivors in Israel, a local official said on Sunday. Adnan Hindi of the Jenin camp called the Holocaust a "political issue" and accused conductor Wafa Younis of unknowingly dragging the children into a political dispute. He added that Younis has been barred from the camp and the apartment where she taught the 13-member Strings of Freedom orchestra has been boarded up. On Saturday, The Jerusalem Post found that leaders and representatives of the Jenin refugee camp condemned the participation of Palestinian teenagers from the camp in a concert honoring Holocaust survivors in Holon last week. The 13 Palestinian musicians, aged 11 to 18, are members of the Palestinian orchestra Strings of Freedom that is based in the refugee camp. The concert was held at the Holocaust Survivors' Center as part of "Good Deeds Day," an annual event organized by an organization belonging to Israeli billionaire Shari Arison. The event drew strong condemnations from refugee camp leaders and political activists, who accused the organizers of exploiting the children for "political purposes." Adnan al-Hinda, director of the Popular Committee for Services in the Jenin refugee camp, said that the participation of the children in the concert was a "dangerous matter" because it was directed against the cultural and national identity of the Palestinians. He accused "suspicious elements" of being behind the Holon event, saying they were seeking to "impact the national culture of the young generation and cast doubt about the heroism and resistance of the residents of the camp during the Israeli invasion in April 2002." Hindi claimed that the organizers "misled" the children by promising to take them on a free trip to Israel and teach them music. Ramzi Fayad, a spokesman for various political factions in the Jenin refugee camp, also condemned the participation of the teenagers in the Holocaust event, saying all the groups were strongly opposed to any form of normalization with Israel. "There can be no normalization while Israel is continuing to perpetrate massacres against our people," he said. Leaflets distributed in the Jenin area over the weekend also attacked the event and accused the organizers of exploiting the children. The leaflets also warned the Palestinians against participating in similar events in the future. Sources in the camp said that the political factions in Jenin have also decided to ban an Israeli Arab woman who helped organize the event from entering the city. Fatah activists in the city also filed a complaint with the Palestinian Police against the woman under the pretext that she had misled the children by taking them to the Holocaust event. The activists also sealed an apartment that had been rented out to the woman in the refugee camp. The youths said their conductor, Wafa Younis, 50, of the Arab village of Ara in the Triangle, tried to explain to them who the elderly people at the event were, but chaos on the bus prevented them from listening. Some 30 elderly survivors gathered in the center's hall as teenage boys and girls filed in 30 minutes late - delayed at an IDF checkpoint outside their town, they later explained. The encounter began with an Arabic song, "We sing for peace," and was followed by two musical pieces with violins and Arabic drums, as well as an impromptu song in Hebrew by two in the audience. The encounter was not devoid of politics. Younis dedicated a song to kidnapped IDF soldier Gilad Schalit. AP contributed to this report


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