Monday, 21 May 2012

books + boats: cultural continuity under inclement conditions

Abu Fayez, one of Gaza's last boat builders

Gaza's Ark ~ Building Hope


The Canadian Boat to Gaza, in cooperation with international initiatives in the US, Australia and other countries, is launching a new initiative to challenge the illegal and inhumane Israeli blockade of Gaza, the only Mediterranean port closed to shipping.

This new initiative: Gaza’s Ark, will build a boat in Gaza, using existing resources. A crew of internationals and Palestinians will sail it out of Gaza carrying Palestinian products to fulfill trade deals with international buyers.

Gaza's Ark will be constructed in Gaza by Palestinian hands and expertise, with international assistance.

Gaza's Ark will help revitalize the dwindling ship building industry in Gaza and help ensure the transmission of this disappearing expertise (another effect of the blockade) to the younger generations.

Through Gaza's Ark and trade deals secured between Palestinian producers in Gaza and international businesses and NGOs a channel will be established to export Palestinian products from Gaza that are available despite the blockade.

Gaza's Ark will also provide training to Gaza's sailors in the use of up-to-date electronic sailing equipment and techniques which they have been denied for years as a result of the blockade.

Although it will help in a very limited manner to alleviate Gaza’s unemployment crisis by paying wages to the boat builders and providing business opportunities to traders, Gaza's Ark is not an aid project. It is a peaceful action against the blockade which Israel unilaterally and unreasonably imposes on Gaza.

Gaza’s Ark also stands in solidarity with the Palestinian fishery in Gaza whose ability to operate in territorial waters and to derive a livelihood is threatened by the same Israeli blockade which our campaign is challenging.

Gaza’s Ark challenges the blockade by building hope on the ground in Gaza, and affirms our confidence that the Palestinians of Gaza can rebuild their economy through outbound trade that threatens no-one’s security.

With your support, the work on Gaza's Ark will start this summer. You will be able to follow its progress with regular updates on the web (www.GazaArk.org), on Facebook (www.facebook.com/GazaArk) and Twitter (@GazaArk).
You can reach us by email at info@GazaArk.org.

Background:
Gaza’s Boat-Building Tradition Dying Under Siege

GAZA CITY, Aug 1, 2011 (IPS) By Eva Bartlett- “My father was a boat-builder and I learned from him, worked on boats all my life. Now there’s no work at all.” Abu Fayez Bakr, 64, is one of two boat-builders in the Gaza Strip, the last of a dying trade, despite Palestinians’ penchant for the sea and its bounty.

“My sons learned a little about boat repairs, but not actual building. They were young when I had regular building work, but now that they are older the work has dried up.”


In Gaza’s simple harbour, Bakr sits beside a hefty boat he built nearly a decade ago, one of his last projects. ... “It was damaged in the last Israeli war on Gaza. We’re repairing it now,” he explains.

(Image source) Read more: http://ingaza.wordpress.com/2011/08/01/gazas-boat-building-tradition-dying-under-siege/



~ Uploaded by on Sep 26, 2011
Gaza was home to a strong shipbuilding industry before Israel imposed its land and sea blockade on the territory. But with fishermen prevented from sailing beyond three nautical miles, there is no longer any demand for large boats. In a bid to stay afloat, a donor-funded project is teaching fishermen how to repair and build small boats using fibre glass. Al Jazeera's Nicole Johnston reports from Gaza.
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FAREWELL MY LIBRARY! FAREWELL MANSION OF WISDOM, TEMPLE OF PHILOSOPHERS, INSTITUTE OF SCIENCE, COUNCIL HOUSE OF LITERATURE!  

The Great Book Robbery - Witness - Al Jazeera English

A film by Benny Brunner

When the Arab-Israeli war raged in 1948, librarians from Israel’s National Library followed soldiers as they entered Palestinian homes in towns and villages. Their mission was to collect as many valuable books and manuscripts as possible. They are said to have gathered over 30,000 books from Jerusalem and another 30,000 from Haifa and Jaffa.

Officially it was a 'cultural rescue operation' but for Palestinians it was 'cultural theft'.
It was only in 2008 when an Israeli PhD student stumbled across documents in the national archive that the full extent of the 'collection' policy was revealed.

Using eyewitness accounts, this film tries to understand why thousands of books appropriated from Palestinian homes still languish in the Israeli National Library vaults and why they have not been returned to their rightful owners. Was it cultural preservation or robbery?

For more information + to read about the project's aims:
 http://thegreatbookrobbery.org/projects-aims

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