Dereck Bassa– OTTAWA • ON | 30-1-2023
On Friday January 20th, the Ottawa chapter of the Palestinian Youth Movement hosted a Solidarity and Resistance Arts Show in support of the liberation of Palestine. The event included evocative speeches from members of the Palestinian Youth Movement, words from Dr. Khuri of Run for Palestine, a lively dabke performance (a Levantine Arab folk dance) by local dance group Dalona Zaffeh, as well as an original poem and moving performance of a Palestinian folk song performed by local poet and songwriter Maisaloon Hammoud. The event also incorporated a silent auction, for which all proceeds went to Run for Palestine.
The night was an occasion to showcase the work of various Palestinian artists in the community and to highlight the subversive role that art plays in the fight for freedom. Art in all its forms was displayed at the event to showcase Palestinian culture and history. Featured artworks included paintings, photographs, hand crafted pieces, as well as written texts about the Israel occupation of Palestine.
“Palestinians have a long history of using art in its various forms as a means of resistance.” says spokesperson for the Ottawa Palestinian youth movement in her speech. “Art has played a powerful role in helping us share and preserve our revolutionary history and write our own narrative of our struggle.”
One such example of struggle is the dabke which in 1948 following the tragedies of the nakba, were choreographed into stories touching on topics of exile, resistance and attachment to the homeland. Today Palestinians in exile continue to practice dabke to maintain a crucial part of their political and cultural identity.
The dabke dance by Dalona Zaffeh was performed to celebrate the culture and honour the history of the Palestinian people in the face of oppression. In addition to the dance, the Palestinian folk song performed by Maisaloon told the story of a Palestinian person who was missing their home country and expressing their desire to return to their homeland. A story that many refugees can relate to, it’s a song whose sentiments resonate with every Palestinian.
When asked about art’s role as an act of protest, Sarah of the Palestine Youth Movement says “Art acts as a form of political education to everyone, regardless of your educational background, regardless of your class background.” she says. “We are trying here at our event to incorporate the many different forms of art just like many resistance factions of Palestinians groups before us have done to spread their messages.”
Underlining the subversive nature of art in the fight for liberation, artist, poet and songwriter, Maisaloon Hammoud spoke on the importance of art. “Art carries a message. Implicit art can be so powerful especially […] when your occupiers don’t understand the meaning behind it” she says. “It is a way for people to express their frustrations. It’s a way to relay a message to people in a beautiful way that captures peoples’ hearts and minds.”
The Solidarity and Resistance Arts show was an occasion to not only celebrate the integral role that art plays in the fight for liberation, but to celebrate the history and cultural heritage of the Palestinian people as a whole.
To support the cause, educate yourself and learn more about the zionist occupation of Palestine, visit the Palestinian Youth Movement website.
You can also visit the Run for Palestine website to help alleviate the suffering of Palestinian youth living in Gaza and refugee camps.