The War in Lebanon
The summer campaign for 2006 was originally planned in two parts – first a 5 day activism seminar with a core group of 23 youth and then a full scale community campaign with a total of 70 youth. The program was planned to begin on July 13th and run all the way to July the 23rd and the activities were to focus on group work in art, theatre and community events, mural painting (a 6m. high by 20m. long wall on which some 5 youth groups worked for 4 months, preparing the sketch and recruiting the materials), renovations (in two local schools with which we are in cooperation) and a children summer camp (for Arab and Jewish neighborhood kids).
Changing patterns; a chronology of war
On July 13th, 23 youth arrived in Jaffa for the activism seminar, ready for a full 10 days of activities. In the same evening, word began to come out that rockets had fallen on Haifa. We gathered all the participants and discussed with them the events and how they felt about them. What the youth had to say gave us tremendous strength – while they deeply felt for the events in the north and the attacks in Lebanon, they thought their place was with us in Jaffa, as an Arab-Jewish group presenting an alternative to the general political situation of the country. Although they did not see television nor hear the radio, they knew that the dominant discourse was strongly engaged in a nationalist security and defense chorus, while they saw themselves as the direct alternative to this discourse, as the carriers of the other, more just and peaceful possibility.
In the following days (July 14th and 15th), clashes in the north intensified, the Hezbollah firing more and more rockets and the Israeli army reaching all the way to Beirut. Members of our staff were quite alarmed by the events, others had families and friends in the north of the country themselves and were concerned for their safety, and overall we felt a lack of knowledge as to how the situation was to develop next. If was on the morning of July 16th, when a rocket fell in Haifa, killing 8 people, that we began to raise questions as to the possibility of canceling our campaign. We were mostly concerned with the idea of another 40 youth joining us in Jaffa and of the possibility of rockets reaching this far south. In the end, it was decided to cancel the community campaign and to shorten the activism seminar, doing closing workshops and sending the youth home on the 17th.
Following the youth’s departure, we sat down again and revised what we were to do next in a more relaxed atmosphere. We knew that we could not stop the mural project, and we also wanted to discuss what was going to be our reaction to the war as an Arab-Jewish youth organization. In the end, we decided to call back all the 23 youth from the activism seminar and prepare with them an event against the war, under the message ‘United for Change – Arab and Jewish Youth Voice Out an Alternative’. Youth bands that thought they could identify with this message were invited to come, a graffiti wall was put up for everyone to express their frustrations as to the war and the youth performed on stage. They planned short theatre performance, representing Israeli-Palestinian scenes familiar to all of us – check points, body searches, bombings and more – and group art presented framed body paintings of scenes of violence and hatred. Theirs was poignant work.
In addition, those of the staff and volunteers responsible for the painting of the mural managed to finish their work, having for advantage that local youth had taken part in the preparations of the project. Delinquent youth, women’s groups and immigrant worker youth took part in workshops in order to elaborate the concept of the picture to be painted on the wall. Their final product was a 20 meter long, 6 meter high sketch. The project turned out to be large scale – some 60 youth took part in the painting, almost 500 liters of paint were used, not to mention brushes and all related materials. Apart from the project’s success in involving various groups of youth, we feel that it has added to the Jaffa scenery. Standing in a central artery of the city, not many people can ignore the result of the work done by this dedicated and artistic youth.
To see full size image of mural, click here