SAT. DEC. 20 7pm Katie Miranda & Jonas Moffat Unitarian Universalist Hall 1606 Bonita at Cedar, Berkeley, CA
$10 - $10,000 sliding scale donation. All Welcome. No one turned away for lack of funds. UPSTAIRS in the Connie Barbour Room,
An interactive, multimedia, and fire performance by the Tel Rumeida Circus for Detailed Palestinians (TRCDP). With a combined total of three and a half years spent working for the International Solidarity Movement in the West Bank, they have witnessed the effectiveness of non-violent resistance in the struggle for a free Palestine.
Jonas and Katie will discuss ongoing campaigns of non-violence, and share their personal stories through photos, video and art. Sponsor BFUU SJC/Benefit for the Free Gaza Movement and the Israeli Anarchists Against the Wall.
Tuesday night May 8th, gigantic fireballs could be seen swirling in Askar refugee camp. But wait, it’s not what you’re thinking. The army hasn’t invaded quite yet… It was the Tel Rumeida Circus for Detained Palestinians who has invaded the Askar gymnasium and performed a fire circus for 300 kids from Askar camp.
TRCDP unveiled their new choreographed circus extravaganza to an enthusiastic audience.
T.R.C.D.P. was invited by Hatem Hafi, the manager of the Nablus Center for Arts and Culture. The center teaches Palestinian folklore to children in dabke (traditional Palestinian dance), drama, French, English, painting, music, and more.
Hatem explained some conditions of the camp to the members of the T.R.C.D.P. and their posse. For example,13,000 Palestinian refugees in Askar are housed on 2.5 square kilometers of land. “At night, usually around 11 or 12, the army comes in and damages doors, and shoots at will. We don’t want money from the EU or the USA, we want time to live a good life, to be able to sleep at night.” Hatem has a one month old baby and says the baby cries when the army comes in and shoots.
“All societies work towards change, but Palestinians can’t because of the occupation,” he told us. There is a swimming pool for the camp, but right next to the pool is a checkpoint and people are afraid to go swim there because of its close proximity to the checkpoint. At this point, Hatem pointed out the sounds of a party outside. “They are having a party now, but they are not thinking about the party, because when it is over, the occupation will continue.”
Mural by French artist inside Old Askar refugee camp
Hatem continued, “If you tour the West Bank, you’ll see the occupation’s effects on kids.” A study by the Gaza Community Health Programs found the rate of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) among Palestinian children showed that 54% suffered from severe PTSD, 33.5 % from moderate and 11 % from mild and doubtful levels of PTSD. Some symptoms of PTSD include restlessness, insomnia, aggressiveness, depression, dissociation, emotional detachment, and nightmares.
Besides PTSD, there are of course physical injuries. Like Jamil, the son of Abu Ashdi who was shot twice in the face by the Israeli army. Jamil lived but he’s completely lost his sense of smell. The family wants to take him out of the country for better medical attention but because eight members of his family are in jail, the Israeli government won’t grant the family permits to leave the West Bank. Abu Ashdi asked us if we knew of any human rights organizations which could help. We suggested Doctors Without Borders, but apparently they had already tried and had no luck.
Suddenly we were reminded of the reality of the occupation ourselves when Hatem warned us we should leave soon because the army would be invading shortly and we would not want to be caught in their line of fire.
TRCDP was born when two members of the ISM began performing a circus routine for detained Palestinians at checkpoints.
Stated goals of the TRCDP are: 1) Entertain Palestinians who are detained at checkpoints 2) De-escalate tense situations where Israeli soldiers are abusing Palestinians 3) Un-detain Palestinians by the previous stated goals 4) Perform circus shows for Palestinian children who are otherwise deprived of a normal, safe, and happy childhood
Outsmarting the Occupation in Bil'in by Martinez, 4 May 2007
For 27 months, villagers from the West Bank village of Bil’in have been non-violently resisting Israel’s Apartheid Wall and land theft. Palestinians have been joined by Israeli and international solidarity activists at Bil’in's regular Friday demonstrations against the Wall.
Today, activists met outside of the mosque in Bil'in and started their usual march to the Wall. Chants, songs, and slogans were sung as the demonstrators marched through the heat to reach the Apartheid structure.
Re-Ignited in Palestine: Tel Rumeida Circus for Detained Palestinians by The Shmoogster
The Tel Rumeida Circus for Detained Palestinians had their first reunited circus extravanganza last night. Due to heavy rains, our flames were dampened 2 weeks ago when we attempted to have our first 2007 circus show in Tel Rumeida.
Last night, however, Katie and I brought our fire poi and our fire juggling torches to H2, and filled those Occupied streets with glee.
H2, for those of you who may not know, is an area of Hebron that was divided up under what was called the "Hebron Protocols" in 1997. H1, making up 80% of Hebron, was to be granted limited autonomy under the supervision of the Palestinians Authority. H2, where the Tel Rumedia neighborhood is located, was placed under the full control of the Israeli military.
What this translates to is that anyone living in H1 (under 'limited 'autonomy') is subject to arbitrary home invasions and incursions by the Israeli military. In H2, however, under the control of the Israeli army, things are a lot more intense and unbelievable...
No Palestinians are allowed to drive cars of any kind in H2. If you are sick, you must be carried through the checkpoint where an ambulance may be waiting for you on the other side. Same hold true for pregnant women, who have to move from Tel Rumeida some time before giving birth to ensure that they are close to a medical facility.
Tel Rumeida is unlike any other place in the West Bank. Illegal, extremist settlers live side by side with the Palestinians, often in Palestinian homes whose residents fled from the soldier and settler violence. Settlers carry M-16 rifles as they walk the streets with their families. Settler youth and, at times, settler adults, throw stones at and spit on Palestinian women, men, and children, while the Israeli soldiers stand idly by.
At the checkpoint in Tel Rumeida, soldiers will detain Palestinian men for sometimes hours while the soldiers do a "security check." This should normally take just a few minutes, but often the soldiers will detain the men for hours, just because they feel like it.
The Tel Rumeida Circus was initiated as a response to de-escalate these situations. Katie and I were playing with our circus toys with the Palestinian children on Shuhadda Street. On this street, settlers commonly break Palestinian windows and throw stones at Palestinians and international human rights advocates.
The kids do not usually enter the street because they are afraid of being attacked by the violent settlers. But when we would arrive with out juggling pins and poi, smiles stretching from ear to ear would be seen galloping down the stairs to join on for our quaint circus show.
We noticed on one of these days that a Palestinian man had been detained at the checkpoint for quite some time. Katie and I decided to bring our mock-circus performance to the checkpoint. It was already an absurd scene-- 18 year old Israeli soldiers detaining a Palestinian man at a crappy little checkpoint, separating Palestinian land from Palestinian land. So we decided to add to the absurdity while adding a bit of non-violent intervention to the scene.
So we brought our show to the checkpoint. Our attempt was to put the soldiers in a better mood which would lead into them releasing the Palestinian detainee. Katie and I improvisationally announced: "We are the Tel Rumeida Circus..." We spun our poi and juggled our pins there, next to the checkpoint. And it worked. After a little while, the Palestinian was released and we departed back down Shuhadda St. And we would return as often as we could to Shuhadda St with our equipment, making our spontaneous circus shows when a detention was occurring.
We eventually grew and started to teach the kids how to do circus tricks.
And we would do our TRCDP fire show every Friday night...
So last night was our special Palm Sunday Performance of TRCDP. (Actually, that was just a coincidence). Our audience of Palestinian children was so excited—it had been over 7 months since we last performed on those streets in H2. The internationals were pretty excited as well.
Two Israeli soldiers could be seen several meters away. I saw one of them on the phone…
We played with our fires for nearly half an hour.
Our circus soundtrack blasted from on of the Palestinian shops.
As we finished, a tank whirled around the corner in our direction, but our circus had already been extinguished. Maybe they were coming to stop us. Maybe they were coming to join us. Regardless, we will reunite there every Friday. And TRCDP has already started planning to get our show on the road. Our goal is to perform at as many permanent checkpoints as we can. We’ll see you at a checkpoint near you.