One of the most interesting things of the activity organised with the Scout Group from Beit Sahour stays in the patriotism that they have promoted through their work.
From 30 drawings that I have gathered at the end of the activity, every single one had a requirement of recognizing Palestine as their own country. Non of them had any sign of Israeli domination, thus it stands as a strong evidence against the propaganda created by global platforms. From drawings of Palestinian flag to olive trees and different Arab motifs show a innocent perspective about Palestine’s existence with culture and heritage.
On February 22nd, I was enjoying my first day in Beit Sahour, one of the wealthiest cities in Palestine where I had the privilege to organize a creative activity with children of the Scouts Group of the same city. Before I share the experience, the aim and outcome I need to mention ATG Group that found my idea interesting enough to gather a meeting with 30 lovely kids, out of their schedule.
For further information about them please visit their Facebook page:
Before I have undertaken this project I have to admit I did not know much about Palestine or the issue of Palestinian people, but I have research enough to make a personal opinion about several aspects of the contemporary situation. One of the things you commonly hear in UK is that there is no such thing as Palestine, as it has become land of Israel. Israeli are the rightful owners of the land and Palestine does not exist anymore. I have been corrected many times when I was telling people that I will travel to Palestine.
At some point it became a frustrating to have so many people disagreeing with what I have understood of the situation of Palestinian people. Media promotes the same ideology, people depict whatever they consider important and finally make an opinion, what I consider, far from the reality. Thus, my aim was to find a creative way to make people understand there is Palestine beyond the political conflict and there are Palestinian people that want their voices to be heard.
I have decided to work with children aged between 4-7, from one of the wealthiest cities in West Bank, as they have suffered little to none traumatic experiences of the ongoing ethnic cleansing.
The activity required a simple illustration of what children understand of their country and how would they define it with crayons and paper. After the task was given, there was very little verbal interaction between the children and they were very involved in their work. The task was planned before my travel to Palestine, but no details have been shared until the encounter with the kids.
Excited, but shy in the same time, I told them little about myself and engaged in the same activity by drawing my own country. I had no interest in making them feel observed, but as much comfortable as possible. From time to time I used to take pictures, which they enjoyed enough to pose with every occasion to ask me to show them the pictures and to group with their closes friends. As soon as the activity was over, the “formalities” were over as well and despite the fact they spoke very little English we managed to create interesting conversations and at the end they asked me to post the pictures on Facebook so people can see them and their work.
The outcome was amazing and it contradicts the image created by the media and the stereotypes formed by people. The drawings will follow in next posts and they will be the art work presented at the exposition as it represents the innocent truth, without any political involvement.
Trauma of Palestinian childhood in relation to human rights organizations and developments agencies construct subjective childhoods and the way they are transformed, construct certain activities of the consequences of violent interventions.
Trauma became a mean for Palestinian children to become visible only when they suffer or go through extreme suffering. What kind of political subjectivity does the discourse of trauma mobilize and what other ways of being political are rendered invisible?
Given the significant role that international aid and development agencies, they play for constructing places and identity for children in Palestine, what kind of future citizens do these agencies seek to produce? What kind of future citizens do trauma relief projects targeting children produce? How do children perform, disrupt and transform the discourses of Palestinian childhood, enacting their own politics in the process?
First it should be considered that trauma is constructed as a justification for humanitarian intervention and is also produced through those interventions. The trauma relief is defined as a potential risk to society, a risk that has to be reduced. Trauma produces the subject of the threatened/threatening that the psychological trauma of Palestinian children go unattended, their build up negative energy will react sometimes in the future.
Trauma relief projects mobilize a particular neoliberal understanding of citizenship. While trauma originally served as a medical humanitarian justification, today trauma relief is used as a part of a resurrected post violent project of new liberal state building.
Children demonstrate agency and flexibility in creatively transforming these discourses.
Trauma originally emerged out of WW I, developed on WW II, with the Holocaust survivors, also used to define acts of domestic abuse, violence about women, usually related to medical psychiatric condition.
Peace process has resulted in further fracturing the Palestinian land, expansion of Israeli settlements and expansion of military presence. This developed in much violent crashes between Israeli and Palestinians especially during the First and Second Intifada.
The spectacular violence during the second Intifadah was asking for international response. Trauma provided an international response for two reasons;
- The medical sector of Palestinian was well developed as the doctors have developed a long experience in working with psychical violence so they would not necessary require medical attention;
- The second reason was because trauma really search two purposed: the emphasis in trauma relief is to tell your story through the events that happen ( aid organizations could go listen to the people, so help them but, also to use the stories to travel around the world and to raise awareness towards the Palestinian situation)
The language of trauma cleared space in the global public sphere for the Palestinian Arabs to be heard. It is also important to remember that trauma delimits political agencies as well. The language of trauma risks in vandalizing Palestinians for using children as victims. This requires them to appear as simply victims and not political actors to be taken seriously, but just sympathized for their suffering. Children have been perfect examples of trauma as they are apolitical. Trauma, summed a range of disempowering practices that air to more suffering, while stories present the real truth of the consequences of the occupation.
Technologies of the self
“The self is made into a terrain of political action, a terrain that carries with it new political possibilities for the self-government” (Cruikshank 1999:5)
Is it through the self that social powers are territories and government solutions are exteriorized:
“Building self-esteem is a technology of citizenship and self-government for evaluating and acting upon ourselves so that the police, the guards and doctors do not have to” (Cruikshank 1999:91)
“Embodies encounters, are not simply perceptual, but always involve emotional, cognitive and imaginative engagement; they are always relational. Other than, perhaps, in the youngest infants, perception cannot take place without interpretation, and interpretation involves bringing into play memories, images and feelings acquires elsewhere. Thus, affective experiences of place are neither individualized nor unmediated.” ( Ansell 2009:200)
“The targeted group has suffered from political violence to educational, social and behavioral problems and to the development of negative psychological conditions. Trauma is useful into drawing attention into the hidden mentally scars which creates a medical discourse.
Threatened, intervention is needed not to prevent children from violence but to prevent others of their violence. War affected children need to find alternatives to violence and to release frustrations. Thus aid agencies encourages tolerance and peaceful expression through the use of arts and other creative activities. Also, self expression or dealing with their own problems are methods that should be taken into consideration in order to give children new confidence to take control over their lives.
As I have taken the risk to develop thew project in less than 3 weeks, I am happy to announce that things are looking quite bright and I have managed to conclude my research about Palestinian Nakba (catastrophe).
Al-Nakba, is the Arabic definition in one word of the ongoing tragedy based on ethnic cleansing. As I have taken advantage of using the group field research trip to undertake an individual project with children I am grateful to see little results coming. My activities there were with children from the Scouts Group of Beit Sahour, one of the wealthiest cities in Palestine. In Beit Sahour, I also meet Karim, an Italian volunteer in the smallest refugee camp named Al-Azza Camp, who later became my partner in organizing the exhibition. Through him I have managed to get in touch with Handala Center, the only center of activities for children in the camp. Karim’s art activities with the children of the camp will complete the work I have done with children from the Scouts Group.
The group of children I have worked with come from normal to wealthy families whereas the children from the camp have to face poverty day by day. The aim or uniting our work is to show that despite the financial situation, children of Palestine are bought up with same ideologies and desire to free Palestine.
Meanwhile, Eva, the protagonist of the following video “welcomed me on board” of Handala Centre and allowing me to work with them,
Please find bellow the presentation of Al-Azza Camp. For any further understanding of what brought this situation please check Al-Jazeera documentaries that I have used as reference or simply read the posts from Al-Nakba category:
This is part two of the documentary I have mentioned in the previous post. As far as I am concerned, it easy easier to understand and more credible as it refers to the events after WW II when the official ethnic cleansing of Palestine started. The segregation wall and extremely violent acts towards Palestinian citizens are real contemporary consequences of the Zionist movement.
Despite the field research that I have undertaken in West Bank my current qualifications could not back up the credibility of my words, thus I have used the documentary as reference to the information that I will share on the blog.
Again, misinterpretations or errors can be justified by the fact that the information shares in based of personal interpretation. Feedback is always welcomed!
Al-Jazeera documentary presenting what I consider to be of the most detailed explanations and justification of certain acts of the Zionist ethnic cleansing. The story dates since long before 1948, despite of the official start date. The documentary covers significant information, due to which it is divided in 2 parts, each one almost 2 hours long.
This is the first part and comprises historical information about the events that determined the Nakba from 1948, evidence for an earlier start of the ethnic cleansing and the roots of the desire for an independent Jewish state.
Due to its complexity, it served as main source of reference for the platform that I am working to develop towards a better understanding of the current situation in Palestine.
My explanations of the events is based on personal understandings of the documentary, I have avoided the use of official names as much as I considered necessary and reflected the impart of past events on the current situation of the country, situations that I have experimented myself. Thus, this could justify any misunderstandings or errors which are not meant to offend anyone. Feedback is always welcomed!