Palestine: Unlimited Photo Exhibits in Madison

Now Through Saturday, June 16:
Christ the Solid Rock Baptist Church, 1502 Parkside Dr., Madison 241-9796
First Congregational Church, 1609 University Ave., Madison 233-9751
Midvale Community Lutheran Church, 4329 Tokay Blvd., Madison, WI 238-7119
Memorial United Church of Christ, 5705 Lacy Rd, Fitchburg, WI 53711 273-1008
Lutheran Church of the Living Christ, 110 N. Gammon Rd, Madison 829-2136

The entire exhibit of 24 photos is divided among these churches.

Palestine: Unlimited is a collection of award-winning photos by Palestinians on exhibit in the U.S. The photos, reflecting Palestinian views of their culture and way of life, is on display at Madison-area churches. The display is open to the public daily during regular hours of each church.

This exhibition is derived from a signature initiative of the Dar Al Kalima University College of Arts and Culture in Bethlehem. The exhibit, featuring the ten finalists from the Karimeh Abboud Award Competition – named for a pioneering 20th century Palestinian female photographer – helps break through icons and stereotypes, in order to experience Palestine as it really is. In the words of photographer Ala’a Abu Salem: “These portraits aim at representing the Palestinian away from any ties, connections or expectations with themes and specific subjects. In short, it is an attempt to break the stereotype and overused image of the Palestinian person.”

Sponsored by Bright Stars of Bethlehem. See sample photos and messages from the artists.
 

Palestine: Unlimited

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[TOP] A visitor at St. Mark’s Lutheran Church in San Francisco views photographs from the first annual Karimeh Abboud Award Competition. [BOTTOM] Luay Sababa’s photograph “Checkpoint 300” captures Palestinian workers at the main checkpoint in Bethlehem. (STAFF PHOTOS PHIL PASQUINI)

 
Elaine Pasquini, Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, 2017 March-April

Throughout the month of December, photographs from the first annual Karimeh Abboud Award Competition were on display in St. Mark’s Lutheran Church in San Francisco. The exhibition, “Palestine: Unlimited,” was presented by the charitable organization Bright Stars of Bethlehem. Bright Stars is dedicated to the support of the Bethlehem-based Diyar Consortium, which includes, among other Bethlehem institutions, Dar al-Kalima University College of Arts & Culture, which initiated the showing.

Hailing from across all of historical Palestine, the 10 finalists were Mohammed al-Kurd, Mohammad Shaloudi, Luay Sababa, May Hirbawi, Saleh Zghari, Waseem Ali, Majd Sanuri, Reem Awad, Alaa abu Salem and first prize winner Nihaya al-Haj Mahmoud. The exhibition was curated by filmmaker Mahasen Nasser-Eldin, who teaches film studies and production at Dar al-Kalima University College of Arts & Culture.

In presenting their wide range of subjects, the artists utilized various styles of photography, including experimental, abstract, conceptual and documentary.

Luay Sababa’s wrenching photo “Checkpoint 300” captures Palestinian workers traversing the checkpoint in Bethlehem—where unemployment is high—to work in Israel.

“Our Mother is Palestinian” by Mohammad Shaloudi offers an oft-seen vignette in the Old City of Jerusalem of a mother selling her vegetables in the street.

May Hirbawi’s photo “Demolition Order” reveals a Bedouin learning his home will soon be confiscated and demolished.

“There’s been a lot of talk recently about the need for empathy and to take someone else’s point of view,” Randy Schieber, chair of St. Mark’s endowment fund, which helped sponsor the exhibition, told visitors at the Dec. 4 opening reception. “This exhibit really puts us in the eyes of these young adults in Palestine and offers us a glimpse into their lives.”

The award is named for photographer Karimeh Abboud (1893-1940), who shattered stereotypes by becoming the first professional female photographer in Palestine, where she had studios in Bethlehem, Nazareth, Haifa and Jerusalem.

—Elaine Pasquini

Israel ambassador to U.S. speaks at Milwaukee Rotary Club

Bill Glauber and Amed Elbenni, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, June 6, 2018

Ron Dermer, Israel’s ambassador to the United States, said America’s recent move to relocate its embassy to Israel will help advance the cause of Middle East peace.

During an address Tuesday at the Milwaukee Rotary Club, Dermer called President Donald Trump’s decision to open the U.S. embassy in Jerusalem “historic” and “one of the greatest decisions in the history of Zionism.”

“I know some people are concerned that this decision will set back the cause of peace. I disagree,” he said.

“This is our historic home and peace can come to the region and the Palestinians can cross a psychological Rubicon and say, ‘You have a right to be here, too,’ ” he added.

The event was co-sponsored by the Milwaukee Jewish Federation. The Rotary has invited the Islamic Society of Milwaukee to a future presentation.

There were protests outside the War Memorial Center organized by Jewish Voice for Peace-Milwaukee, an organization that advocates for full Palestinian citizenship that has labeled Dermer “Israel’s apartheid ambassador.” Peace Action Wisconsin also was an organizer of the protest, which attracted about 60 people from various backgrounds — Jewish, Palestinian, Lebanese, black.

The groups criticized Israel’s recent actions in Gaza, where more than 115 people have been killed since March. Hamas has organized what it called the Great March of Return.

The protests come on the heel of a recent explosion of violence in Gaza and at the Israeli border that left more than 100 people killed and thousands more injured. The Friday killing of Razan al-Najjar, a 21-year-old Palestinian medic who was shot by an Israel Defense Forces soldier, has inspired a fresh wave of outrage.

“It’s an atrocity,” said Tony Peressini, a member of Jewish Voice for Peace.

Jodi Melamed, co-founder of the Milwaukee chapter of JVP, attended the address but was not impressed. “As a Jew of conscience,” she said, she was “disgusted that he was joking about ‘Laverne & Shirley’ and baseball” without ever acknowledging the recent violence in Gaza.

Near the end of the protest, the names of recent Palestinian victims were read out. After each name, the protesters said, “We remember you.”

Inside, Dermer said: “The relationship between Israel and the U.S. is stronger than ever.”

Dermer noted that he was the first Israel ambassador to visit Milwaukee but emphasized the historic links between Israel and Wisconsin.

“The place where Golda Meir was forged, where her Zionism was forged,” Dermer said of Milwaukee, where Israel’s fourth prime minister once lived.

Dermer said Trump had a “faithful decision” to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal.

“Iran is a regime that openly calls for the eradication of Israel,” Dermer said. “They don’t hide it, they tweet it.”

“For Israel, any deal that would permanently prevent Iran from getting any nuclear weapons is one that we would support,” he said, adding that Israel opposed the deal with Iran because the restrictions against Iran’s nuclear program were temporary.

“All they had to do was wait for the calendar to change,” he said.

He said Iran is dominating the region and becoming a threat in the Middle East and hoped for more countries to put more pressure on Iran.

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