Art and Peace

Intellectuals challenge Gaza conflict

GMT 15:25 2012 Saturday ,15 September

Arab Today, arab today Intellectuals challenge Gaza conflict

The Palestinian novelist Yousri el Ghoul
Jerusalem -  Mohammed Habib

The Palestinian novelist Yousri el Ghoul Jerusalem -  Mohammed Habib The Palestinian novelist Yousri el Ghoul in an exclusive interview with Arabstoday said: "The Palestinian cultural reality reached an unprecedented state of hostility between the intellectual and national identity. The follower of the Palestinian cause from the beginning of the uprising against the Israeli occupier, and the improvement of the literal and cultural language in Palestine, realises its decline today." Ghoul added: “The taboos of the revolution, the cause and homeland are numerous, nobody is allowed to discuss them because politicians or decision makers consider them red lines, which leads the intellectual to turn to superficiality or spare himself the scourge of the policy of the carrot and stick. This leads us to a dead end, not only at the economic level, social, developmental or other crisis, but at the level cultural level too. Palestinian culture formed throughout the past decade represented a national method to promote the cause through promoting the Palestinians suffering due to the brutal Zionist occupation. Palestinian poems became the songs of time and place, and many plays and novels were played on the stage and were awarded the greatest and finest awards. Unfortunately, this did not last long. The Palestinian novelist said: "In spite of recent attempts to improve the cultural state, the cultural state receded and deteriorated more and more. The cultural, literary, artistic, and other institutions no longer work in the cultural development or renaissance of the society due to the several barriers that are imposed by society intentionally or unintentionally. For instance, Gaza no longer has cinemas due to the strict customs and traditions. It tightened its grip on the cultural institutions of thought and creativity due to religious extremism that some believe  contradict with the concepts of intellectual freedom and creativity. He said: "The dilemma of the division led to fragmentation of forces. There is no longer creative literature that addresses the Palestinian cause or presents its concerns. However, it only promotes this ideology or that force, which in turn reduces the importance of daily newspapers that accepts pens with simple language and superficial thoughts. Perhaps the report of one of the known Palestinian sites marks the cultural state." Ghoul said: "The Palestinian culture that led to the birth of Edward Said, Mahmoud Darwish, Emil Habibi, and Tawfik al-Sayegh is no longer today able to keep up with the Arab figures of thought and literature as it is limited to its internal issues. As an example, the Palestinian literature deteriorated compared to the improvement of several countries that were lagging behind the Palestinian level of intellectual and cultural perception. He added: “ What helped in the cultural imbalance is the emptiness of the Palestinian cultural institutions and their role that became limited through monitoring it, or minimising its importance and lack of local support. In addition to the lack of local publishing houses that are interested in publishing creative work, Gaza suffers the most from the horrible siege."  Ghoul held the official Palestinian institution in Gaza or the West Bank, a large part of the responsibility as it pays more attention to other sectors at the expense of culture that is often merged with another ministry. He added: "The Palestinian division in 2007, and the division of homeland into two entities, capitals and governments led to the change of the creative strategy among Palestinian writers, and a change in their interests and their style as ideas and visions and perceptions fragmented.  The intellectuals have been in a very bad situation. Many of them resorted to silence because they were afraid of arrest, repression, or dismissal as many of them were working within governmental institutions.”  Ghoul concluded his speech: "We Palestinian writers and intellectuals, bear the responsibility for what is taking place in the homeland concerning political arrests, damage in education, the destruction of cultural structure and our week voice abroad because we left those who are naive and amateur to write what they want. We refused to say what we want out of fear. The Palestinian state is heading from bad to worse, this is why the true intellectuals have to speak out in order to improve our literature and creativity once again and to echo our voices which will spread everywhere just like Darwish and Habibi did before, calling for cultural and social unity of our community.”

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