Friday, October 30, 2020

‘Jerusalem Nights’ promotes Palestinian cultural identity and heritage

By Elizabeth Jenkins - March 24, 2018
Section: [Main News]
Tags: [Jerusalem] [Food and Culture]

On March 22, a period of festivity and activities aimed at promoting Palestinian Jerusalemite cultural identity was inaugurated.

The Jerusalem Arts Network (Shafaq) have coordinated a rich programme of events under the banner of 'Jerusalem Nights’.
Al-Ma'mal Foundation for Contemporary Art, The Edward Said National Conservatory of Music, Yabous Cultural Center, Palestinian National Theatre and Palestinian Art Court-Al Hoash make up the year-old Jerusalem Arts Network.
The network was founded in response to Israeli continual attempts to reinforce the Zionist political narrative through cultural projects. One such example is the Museum of Beit HaLiba, situated a couple of metres from the Western Wall.
Raed Saadeh – founding member of Al Hoash and currently a board member – told Palestine Monitor: “Jerusalem needs to consolidate its culture identity, especially under occupation. (…) It’s about protecting heritage and consolidating the fragments of this identity, which is under threat, which is being lost.”
Palestine Monitor joined al-Hoash for the opening of the 3-hour tour they have put together for 'Jerusalem Nights’, titled 'Reviewing Jerusalem III: Once upon a city’ and curated by Bisan Abu Eisheh.
The tour began at 3pm with a short film on urban intervention at al-Hoash. The group then moved through Jerusalem towards the Old City, with traditional Palestinian stories recounted along the way, accompanied by a violin.
This part of the tour ended at an Al Quds University building, where Hamada Madah was teaching a group of attentive children how to sculpt. At the top of this building is an open space, where the group gathered to admire the spectacular views over the Old City, and on a rooftop just below painted with bright colours by artist Mohamed Joulani.  
At 5pm, Mirna Bamieh took over for the last part of the tour, composed of a food walk that traces the tahini trail in the Old City.
The tahini trail is an activity that forms part of the Palestine Hosting Society, a collective founded by Bamieh that brings together, “researchers, cooks and people who like to think through food all the issues surrounding politics, history and geography,” Bamieh told Palestine Monitor.
Originally from Jaffa, Bamieh’s family moved to Jerusalem following the 1948 Nakba. Bamieh was inspired to coordinate the food walk after discovering the sesame mills in the Old City, which she described as, “treasures that we might lose anytime.”
Tahini is made from sesame seeds, which used to be produced in Palestine but is now mostly imported from Sudan. During its prime time in the Ottoman period and during the British Mandate, up to 25 mills were up and running in the Old City.
The tahini trail began at one of the two remaining mills, where the current owner explained the history of the mill, the different kinds of tahini that exist and how they are made, and the health and taste benefits of buying tahini made in these ancient mills.
Several, fascinating stops later, the tour ended back at the Al Quds University building, where a spread based on tahini greeted the hungry group.
'Reviewing Jerusalem III: Once upon a city’ will take place a further three times over the course of 'Jerusalem Nights’, which comes to an end on March 31.

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