Israel targets civilians, destroys Gaza’s al-Mishal Theater
Israel launched a terrorist attack Sunday that targeted the popular civilian entertainment center, the Said al-Mishal (Meshal) Theater in the Gaza Strip. The terrorist attack by Israel was denounced widely by Palestinian cultural leaders while voices in the Arab World were silent.
The racist mainstream American news media has given extensive coverage to retaliatory missile strikes against Israel, condemning them wrongly as terrorist attacks, but has ignored Israel’s violence against Palestinians in Gaza and in the West Bank.
The Israeli military and government-controlled news media has been silent on the terrorism by the government of extremist Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. But theater groups in occupied Palestinian released statements condemning Israel’s human rights violations and war crimes.
Theater officials with the Ashtar Theater in Ramallah released the following statement in the wake of Israel’s terrorist attack aimed at Gaza’s cultural heart condemning the terrorism:
“With great rage and deep pain, ASHTAR Theatre condemns the brutal attack of the Israeli occupation on Al Mishal Theatre in Gaza which flattened the 6 floors building to the ground. Al Mishal was the base of ASHTAR youth group in Gaza since 2008. It had been the stage to various productions of ASHTAR Theatre; The Gaza Monologues, Romeo and Juliet in Gaza, Hanin, The Flowers Garden, Hercules Children, and many more. The atrocities of the occupation had been escalating and it seems there is no bottom for their deterioration.”
The Palestinian Performing Arts Network issued the following statement on the destruction of the Said al-Mishal Cultural Center in Gaza:
“We in the Palestinian Performing Arts Network are outraged and fully condemn the deliberate destruction of the Said al-Mishal Cultural Centre in Gaza City. Being one of the very few cultural spaces left for Palestinians in Gaza, this destruction is devastating. The five-floor building held a theatre, a library, offices for cultural associations, was the headquarters of the al-Anqaa’ (the Phoenix) dance troupe, and provided open spaces for performances and trainings for cultural organizations in the Gaza Strip. Various members of the network, including, the Popular Art Centre and Ashtar Theatre are partners with al-Mishal Centre and use its art space to conduct trainings and implement performances and festivals with their partners in Gaza. Al-Mishal Center and its venues represented an important symbol of Palestinian cultural identity and freedom of expression in the Gaza Strip. The Center was a symbol of Palestinian cultural heritage and was purposefully targeted by the Israeli occupation because art and culture reinforce and strengthen Palestinian national and cultural identity.
“This decision to destroy Palestinian cultural sites in Gaza only has one meaning; it is a psychological warfare on Palestinian social, national and cultural connection to the land. The attempt to silence the voices for freedom and right to self-determination is not a new phenomenon by the Israeli occupation. On July 14, 2018, less than a month ago, the Village of Arts and Crafts, west of Gaza City, was destroyed by Israeli occupation bombing. The village, which contains many paintings and handicrafts that reflect the authenticity of the Palestinian people and their heritage, has been destroyed.
“We in the Palestinian Performing Arts Network consider the destruction of Palestinian tangible and intangible cultural heritage by the Israeli occupation as a pre-determined and systematic policy of negating Palestinian right to their land, their cultural heritage and discrediting their historical claims.
“We call upon the international community, fellow artists and cultural workers and organizations to:
• Continue your solidarity, advocacy and lobbying with regards to the injustice that Palestinian people have witnessed.
• Pressure your governments to lift the siege on Gaza and developing a system of accountability for the damage caused by the Israeli occupation bombings and destruction.
• The international community needs to oblige Israel to abide by the Fourth Geneva Convention and international law and protect Palestinian tangible and intangible cultural heritage.
• Palestinian private and public sector institutions, namely the Ministry of Culture, should adopt the rebuilding program of all destroyed cultural and artistic venues and organizations.
• We implore UNESCO to issue a statement and resolution condemning the destruction of Palestinian tangible cultural heritage, and demand the international community rebuild the Center and other cultural and artistic organizations destroyed by the Israeli occupation in Gaza Strip.”
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Ray Hanania is an award winning political and humor columnist who analyzes American and Middle East politics, and life in general. He is an author of several books.
"I write about three topics, the Middle East, politics and life in general. I often take my life experiences and offer them in an entertaining way to readers, and I take on the toughest topics like the Israel-Palestine conflict and don't pull any punches about what I feel is fair. But, my priority is always about writing the good story."
Hanania covered Chicago Politics and Chicago City Hall from 1976 through 1992. Hanania began writing in 1975 when he published The Middle Eastern Voice newspaper in Chicago (1975-1977). He later published “The National Arab American Times” newspaper which was distributed through 12,500 Middle East food stores in 48 American States (2004-2007).
Hanania writes weekly columns on Middle East and American Arab issues for the Arab News in Saudi Arabia at www.ArabNews.com, the TheArabDailyNews.com, www.TheDailyHookah.com and at SuburbanChicagoland.com. He has also published weekly columns in the Jerusalem Post newspaper, YNetNews.com, Newsday Newspaper in New York, the Orlando Sentinel Newspapers, and the Arlington Heights Daily Herald.
Palestinian, American Arab and Christian, Hanania’s parents originate from Jerusalem and Bethlehem.
Hanania is the recipient of four (4) Chicago Headline Club “Peter Lisagor Awards” for Column writing. In November 2006, he was named “Best Ethnic American Columnist” by the New American Media. In 2009, Hanania received the prestigious Sigma Delta Chi Award for Writing from the Society of Professional Journalists. He is the recipient of the MT Mehdi Courage in Journalism Award. He was honored for his writing skills with two (2) Chicago Stick-o-Type awards from the Chicago Newspaper Guild. In 1990, Hanania was nominated by the Chicago Sun-Times editors for a Pulitzer Prize for his four-part series on the Palestinian Intifada.
His writings have also been honored by two national Awards from ADC for his writing, and from the National Arab American Journalists Association.
The managing editor of Suburban Chicagoland Online News website www.SuburbanChicagoland.com, Hanania's columns also appeare in the Southwest News Newspaper Group of 8 newspapers.
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