The question of how to meaningfully combine the arts and politics is one that comes back to me time and time again. My first trip to Palestine in 2012, during the Gaza siege, was something of a revelation in this respect: I spent 4 months with the Al Kamandjati music school, playing with Palestinian musicians and working on arts-outreach in refugee-camp schools. The experience demonstrated to me, in very stark terms, just how powerful the performing arts can be for enabling individuals to find their path and challenge the status quo. It also showed me how complicated and difficult it can be to live by that principle in the midst of violence. I returned to Palestine for research in 2014, and then again to run a music project in 2015.
More than anything, my time in Palestine has made me realise the critical importance of people around the world understanding the conflict through lenses other than those of death-tolls and war. The incredible creativity that flourishes against the odds in Israel/Palestine provides a vital means of humanising the hollow stats of the conflict, and it creates a vital platform for transforming perspectives.
Freya is a 21 year old sociology undergraduate in her final year at the University of Cambridge. She ticks several classic ‘oh wow they’re a bit odd’ boxes including a history of Lib Dem activism, 5 years of home-education – which has, for all its positive outcomes, led to a severe deficit in geographical understanding (problematic for international travel) – vegetarianism, and an interest in speciality teas (or speciali-teas). She started playing rugby a month ago and still doesn’t really get it, but she likes the bit where she gets to run into people at speed. Freya plays saxophone and is currently involved in collaborative research on UK primary schooling methods.
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(The image used to head this piece is Majdal Nateel’s ‘Gaza’)
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