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Middle East Circus of hope and giggles...

Badgerlady | 05.03.2008 10:59 | Free Spaces | Iraq | Palestine | London | World

Week 2 of Boomchucka Circus 2 Iraq's antics....

week 2 report from Jen...

Feb 21st - In Bethany -Behind the Wall in .Jerusalem

Hello! Salam Alaykum! thats about as much Arabic as I've picked up so
far... and it's MENTAL with the kids here, who may have never seen a
white face before let alone crazy colourful clowns and a pointy eared
green pixie with a flaming stick! We were woken up at 8.45am to be
told our first show here in the West Bank was at 10am! so no rehersing
as planned and out to the primary school for our second show so far.
this time with singing from Laura - last time the Iraqi clowns had
'Barbie Girl' sound track on their soundsystem - so Laura's Arabian
angelic chanting was a blissful contrast! These beautiful Palestinian
3-6yr olds were captivated and giggling their socks off within
minutes of the girl's first act - I guess I haven't introduced you to
the gang yet: There's Ruth, who has been to the middle east with the
circus twice already and does clowning, stilts, poi and firefingers;
Annie who also came last year (our 'strong man' in the newly
chaotically developing acro -balance section) a comic clown and
part-poier; Jo, a crazy dreaded clown and budding juggler; and Laura
from the US who does a seperate sketch at the mo involving an inflatable
world ball (with stuck on continents of the world) she carries on her
back and then invites kids from audience to help her save it. The lady we
are staying with, Suzanna, seems super active and connected in
empowering local community groups behind the wall (in additiion to
bringing up 4 amazing kids ranging from 18yrs to 7yrs) - and has been
helping international networks contact and works with Palestinians -
especially women and children. We have been made to feel sooooo
welcome here, everyone is immensely generous, friendly and open. There
is absolutely no danger to foreigners here. People are more than aware
that it is the governments that are responsible for the dirty
situation and oppression going on in middle east and a genuine
curiousity and human solidarity is all I have felt from anyone here.
For those who don't know, the British mandate of Palestine became the
state of Israel in 1948 and the West Bank and Gaza regions of Israel
were given to the Palestinians, forcibly removing all Palestinians
from other areas and making them refugees in these zones. However even
within these zones the Israeli army have occupied the territories and
regularly demolish Palestinian homes and colonise the lands! The Wall
that has been built to separate Jerusalem from the West Bank divides
families and communities, and makes travel and access to trade and
medical facilities within the region incredibly difficult for
Palestinians, with 15 births in the last 2 months at checkpoints and
several deaths during births!!!! In the first democratic elections
held Palestinians elected Hammas, but the US and UK didn't want to
accept Hammas as sole leaders and forced a dual alliance with Fatah
and Hammas in the West Bank, and in Gaza refused to cooperate at all
with the newly elected Palestinian leadership of Hammas when they
refused to step down. The Palestinians in the West Bank seem to have
allowed the outside world to impose a non-democratically elected
government. So the politicians intent on dividing the land and people
with walls and oppression, corruption and force, crushing the spirit
of these wonderfully friendly people may as well be the clowns - the
world of politics seems a circus to these people who have been
systematically dispossessed of their lands and Bush dances with Arabs
on TV as part of a 10 day tour of the Middle East. But at least a
little 'food for the soul' is spread with the humble light hearted
spirit of this little circus for kids, and we can bring back the
message from the real people the ludacrous obscuring 'news' on TV
tells to the world of this troubled land.

love, hope and falafels
J xxxxx

p.s. We saw snow in Jerusalem! a full on storm and 7inches of
white fluff everywhere! beautiful is freezing! and today baking
sunshine and blue skies although cold in shade

sub-plot ...a refugee lady from South Africa spoke out to us in the hostel in
Jerusalem where we were staying about her practically slave conditions
of unpaid work and abuse from the bosses - Laura's friend is on the
case from NGO Slavery international.

p.p.p.s. we also have 2 blokes on
the team - a Chilean guy, Mauro, from London Uni studying documentary,
making a film about us and another guy, Dennis who teaches music,
taking photos for circus publicity/record diary online.

Friday Feb 22nd - Circus 2 Zone C- Bedouins - North Jordan Valley, West Bank
Early minibus to Jericho through both Israeli and Palestinian
checkpoints. Ironically it is the Paletinian Authority (PA) controlled
checkpoint which hassled us the most, armed and funded by the Israeli
state and US they are now hassling their own people. Jericho is the
holy land through which it is said that Moses passed from Egypt to
Jerusalem, and also the most fertile, thanks to ancient underground
irrigation system.
Martin from the Brighton Palestine Tubas friendship and solidarity
group helped organise and fund our trip out to these remote parts of
the Palestinian territories, which are the most under threat from
ongoing house demolitions. The few families we met were living in very
basic ramshackle contructions ('metal benders') on exposed stony
desert hills, with not even a toilet for the women. They had been
given eviction notice by the Israeli state despite having the
paperwork proving ownership of the land, which the Bedouin Sheik showed
us in a moving speech.
We were truly humbled and tearful on hearing their situation. The few
children appeared quite amaused yet bemused by our little show ...and
ran away with the (blow-up balloon) world!!
Believing we had other fmailies to meet in the area, we hastily
packed up and shortened our workshop. It seems 60 years and previous
decades of Israeli and then British occupation has fermented
frustration and division between families so that they do not speak to
each other. This makes the area even easier to colonise and steal for
Israeli agricultural export production. However, instead we were taken
to the place of a family member of the driver, and after a while
juggling in the baking sunshine of the desert we were sat round a huge
plate with a mountain of beautifully cooked spiced rice, chicken ,
peas, and caulifower - mostly homegrown- with bread (cooked in
sheeppoo oven) and freshly fermenting goat's yoghurt. Twas truly a
feast fit for regal clowns and a possible contender of the sunday
roast - all 10 of us eating from one plate, sitting on cushions on the
floor in the middle of the desert was quite an experience.
Another photogenic and equally absurd and spirit raising experience we
were blessed with that afternoon at a farm with a few more children to
entertain and cows and cabbages, histerical ladies wrapped in
traditional bedion cloths and men with cameraphones. Martin proved to
be inspirational and a mine of information on the situation (a Schnews
dude to boot) - and told us of the ethnic cleansing tactics of the
Israeli government, including policies of home demolitions and forcible
removal of Palestinians from their lands, and the tapping of water
To finish off an exhausting and heartwrenching day we watched a
documentary 'Return to Palestine' which is worth watching, and does
not shy away from the brutual facts of this occupied and oppressed
territory and its peoples.
tomorrow off to a conference to facilitate networking between students
in Europe and Palestine . and then to see the Wall.
Peaceout. J xx

p.p.p.p.s.s.s.... ;o)

CARMEL is the name of the company that is growing fruit on stolen
palestinian land in the jordan valley. It will say Israel on it in the
supermarket - it ISN"T from Israel. do not buy this fruit!!

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