The Israel Palestine conflict is without a doubt one of the world’s greatest and most controversial causes for debate. The conflict, which began almost 70 years ago, is the ongoing struggle between Israel and Palestine’s claims to the land. The year of 1968 found Israel taking control of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. This territory coming under Israeli occupation had resulted in Palestinian resistance and protest, which continues to this day. Against international law, Israel have continuously placed settlements within Palestinian territory – back in February of this year, the Israeli Parliament passed a law that allows the state to seize land privately owned by Palestinians and grant the properties to Jewish settlements for their exclusive use.
Palestinians being displaced and driven out of their homeland while being involved in an Israeli occupation does not just take away their territory, but chips away at the core of being Palestinian – their culture and their existence. As homes and villages were taken over, there was little evidence left of Palestinian presence. Filmmaker Benny Brunner’s documentary ‘The Great Book Robbery’ reveals the story of 70,000 Palestinian books that were deliberately looted by the State of Israel in 1948 – a prime example of cultural suppression and the systematic eradication of the Palestinian people and erosion of their rich and diverse culture.
Culture is crucial to one’s sense of identity, so the question then begs to be answered: How do the people of Palestine keep their roots alive when their roots are being pulled out?
Today, there are almost 7 million Palestinian refugees – one in three refugees across the world is Palestinian. Left with no choice but to seek asylum elsewhere, Palestinians today have adapted to survive. Of course, as is with environmental influence, Palestinians have also adapted their culture to reflect their state of residence – but it is the core resistance to stay true to their history that is truly remarkable.
Ideas, customs, social behaviour and dress sense are all key factors to what embodies culture. Although these have changed over time, the core influences are still deeply rooted in a modern Palestinian household. Heritage is vital and fatefully passed down through generations to keep the culture alive.
Millennial Palestinians today are on the front lines of this battle for recognition. Through demonstrations, art, music, comedy and social debate Palestinians continue to stand up and declare to the world that they’re still here.
Laughter Is Awareness
Palestinian comedian Amer Zahr quite eloquently noted that “laughing and crying are not that different. We’ve all seen someone laugh so much that he starts crying. But sometimes you might even see somebody cry so much that he starts laughing… They come from the same place”.
Comedy is only as good as its authenticity, and Palestinian comedians worldwide are using their platforms to not only deliver genuine giggles, but to also awareness through their material.
Most recently, comedian Mohammed Amer was featured on The Late Show with Steven Colbert. A proud Palestinian refugee who uses his platform as an artist to demonstrate to the world that despite Palestine’s continued fight, they can still crack a damn good joke.
Maysoon Zayid is another great example of a strong, Muslim Palestinian woman with cerebral palsy using comedy to encourage acceptance.
Existence Through Song
Music is the superior form of expression in all means and teeing that up with a deep rooted sense of resilience makes for a great way to celebrate culture.
47SOUL are a Palestinian group who create a fusion of Arabic Dabke and modern dance music, creating a joyful expression of heritage and contemporary lifestyle. With a combination of English and Arabic vocals, 47SOUL create music that evokes a call for “celebration and freedom in the struggle for equality”.
Fighting The Good Fight
Every year on November 15, Palestinians from across the globe come together to commemorate the Palestinian Declaration of Independence – a day for Palestinians to celebrate their presence and wave their flags proudly. This national day is a reminder for the world that Palestine continues to fight, and that the Palestinian people will not lose faith for a hopeful future.
Through their displays of culture and waving their flag proudly, Palestinians continue to declare that despite attempts by Israel to destroy their world, they will fight to keep it alive.
Through this fight, the very notion of resilience has become the core of Palestinian existence.