Sunday, January 18, 2009

Israeli Bombs Silence 6-month Old Music School in Gaza - Nadia Hijab

The Daily Star, Beirut, January 14, 2009 - There was a music school in Gaza. It was just six months old. The 31 children aged 7 to 11 could choose one of five instruments, including the guitar, oud (lute), and piano. Most of the 19 girls gravitated to the guitar and piano, while many of the 12 boys showed a preference for the oud.

The school worked out of rented premises in the Palestinian Red Crescent Society building just across the street from the Preventive Security Forces compound in Gaza City. The compound was targeted in the first wave of Israeli bombardments on December 27, and twice more the next day. The five-story building was vaporized; a flat gravel surface is all that remains.

Like other buildings in the neighborhood, the Gaza Music School was shattered; window frames and doors were blown out, and holes were punched in the walls. The force of the blast imploded the four ouds, just like it had the compound.

By some miracle, the children had not yet arrived for their lessons and so were spared the fate of those in other schools in the path of Israeli bombs.

In the midst of all the death and destruction in Gaza, the school's short life rouses particular emotion. That there was such a school at all is astonishing, not just because of the 18-month siege that followed the decades of "de-development" of Gaza under Israeli occupation but also because one might expect it to be contrary to an Islamist social program.

There is almost no musical education in Gaza. The school project was developed in response to community demand, particularly from among the 11,600 children who are members of the Qattan Center for the Child. The center provides extra-curricular activities and a library for the children. It is impressive: With its 103,000 books, it is one of the largest children's libraries in the Arab world....

Nadia Hijab is a Senior Fellow at the Institute for Palestine Studies in Washington DC.

To help rebuild, visit Music for Gaza.

Watch a brief and inspiring documentary Carried by the Wind, about an unusual music concert put on in Bethlehem in the West Bank last year by the same Dutch Foundation that is spearheading Music for Gaza:

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