Arts in the West Bank


With its news pages scrutinizing the U.S.-Israeli rift over Jewish settlement growth in the West Bank, The New York Times’ art pages examine Palestinian arts in the disputed territory.

  • In a pair of pieces Monday and Tuesday, Daniel J. Wakin writes about western music as escapism for Palestinian teens in Ramallah. Dalia Moukarker, 16

is one of a new generation of Palestinians who have been swept up in a rising tide of interest in Western classical music in the last several years here in the Palestinian territories, but especially the West Bank. The sounds of trills and arpeggios, Bach minuets and Beethoven sonatas, are rising up amid the economic malaise and restrictions of the Israeli occupation.But as with many endeavors in this part of the world, the pursuit of classical music is fraught with tensions and obstacles, including a desire not to be seen as working with Israelis.

Full story here.

Mr. Shelaldeh’s acquisition of a trade born in the workshops of 17th-century Italy [is] part of a recently kindled interest in classical music, both Western and Oriental, in the occupied territories. Parents, students and teachers here say it comes from the realization that culture is an effective assertion of national identity, particularly at a moment when the prospects for a Palestinian state seem to be receding. It is also a way to give idle young people something to focus on.

Video of Shelaldeh can be seen here.

  • Stephen Holden writes about a new fictional film, “Laila’s Birthday,” which follows a harrowing day in the life of an overqualified cab driver in Ramallah:

His unresolved situation is one of many personal complications in a movie, written and directed by Rashid Masharawi (“Waiting,” “Curfew”), that compiles a sky-high dossier of everyday urban frustrations and small absurdities all magnified by the Israeli occupation. (There are no Israelis in the film.)

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