The Palestinian Territories, i.e. the West Bank and Gaza Strip, have been occupied by Israel since the June war in 1967. On June 5, 2017, it will be the 50th time that victims are annually commemorated and peaceful protest against the occupation is expressed. Precisely on this memorable day we will have a diverse Arts and music program.
We – that is the Arab Educational Institute (AEI), a small non-governmental organization in Bethlehem, and two volunteers from Germany. Our intention is to support the people who search for peaceful and creative strategies toward a just peace in which both peoples live together in freedom and mutual respect. In no way do we want to oppose the existence of Israel.
We are planning one day full of program. In the morning there will be several games and arts workshops for children, followed in the afternoon and early evening by a varied program for the whole family with concerts by traditional and contemporary Palestinian musicians. Because the date of June 5 falls next year in the period of Ramadan, we intend to organize afterwards a large Iftar dinner.
The background of this festival is the need to support the Palestinian attitude of sumud, the literal meaning of which is ‚steadfastness‘. In practise sumud means not to give up despite the odds and many problems which Palestinians face in daily life as a result of the occupation. It comes down to not losing courage through mutual support and a positive attitude in life. Doing so Palestinians remain connected to the land. The olive tree is often used as a symbol for sumud and can also be found in our logo. Sumud relates to an inner attitude of nonviolent resistance.
The purpose of this event is to create space for the commemoration of the victims and to deal with the challenges with which people here are confronted on a daily base since the beginning of the occupation. We want to give people in Bethlehem the opportunity to express themselves in creative and peaceful ways through their own artistic contributions and in the presence of visitors of the festival. It is about supporting people in their longing for self-determination, independence and freedom and to make an international call to pay attention to the situation of the Palestinians.
The target group consists in the first place of the members and friends of the AEI along with those people who live in the neighborhood of the wall and who have to deal on daily base with the restrictions and difficulties as a result of the occupation. In addition we invite people from all over the world to participate in this Arts and music festival, to personally come into contact with the local people, to learn about the situation and to support the Palestinians on their path towards a life of self-determination.
Exactly on this commemorative day the festival can bring out a message. It can provide local people with courage and hope when they know that they are not alone, and that there are people who support them in their peaceful efforts for Palestinian independence. And it can also entail that creative and peaceful voices receive more weight, and show that also in this conflict which has been dominated so much by hate and violence, there are those who work towards peaceful solutions. The crowdfunding has not only a financial purpose, it has also an immaterial value, as it represents a message of international support.
For the festival as a whole, including several preparatory arts workshops, we have a budget of about 20.000 Euro. About two third (13.000 Euro) AEI will finance from other sources, including some of the ongoing contributions which AEI receives for its activities. For the other third – about 7000 Euro – we need you and your support!
This funding will be primarily used for financing the artists‘ expenses as well as the technical equipment. This includes the sound system, a stage and a large screen on which the arts works of international artists will be shown. On top of that we will make use of your contribution to cover parts of the costs of the joint Iftar meal and the printing costs of posters and flyers.
Please help us to realize this project and to organize an unforgettable day for the people in Bethlehem!
Since the 1980s the Arab Educational Institute works especially with youth and women for strengthening the civil society as well as Christian-Moslem living together in Palestine. This work is embedded in the idea of sumud, that is, not to give up despite the occupation and the challenges of life in Palestine, but rather to see the beauty in life and to preserve a positive attitude. Besides the team of AEI there are regularly international volunteers who come over for a certain period of time and who support the local team in their tasks. At the moment these volunteers include Ida, who conducts here her voluntary social year and who will stay in Bethlehem until mid-2017, as well as Johanna, who in the context of her peace and conflict studies conducts an internship at AEI, and who has been especially involved in the preparations for the campaign before she will further work on the project in Germany.