Celebrate Palestinian Heritage and Culture with Sister Cities International
11 am Central
Amer Zahr is a Palestinian Arab American comedian, speaker, writer, academic, and adjunct professor at University of Detroit Mercy School of Law. He draws on his experiences growing up as a child of Palestinian refugees, performing and lecturing on topics like politics, society, culture, identity, Palestine, Islam, and more.
10 am – 5 pm FREE
Come celebrate the rich cultural heritage and diversity of our community as International Festival returns live to Overture Center! Enjoy free performances, savor cuisine from around the world, browse the arts and crafts, and check out the many local organizations & businesses with global connections.
The Madison-Rafah Sister City Project, Playgrounds for Palestine – Madison, and Palestine Partners will be there, so stop by to help us fully fund the Al Samud Playground in the Old City of Hebron by purchasing olive oil and making donations.
We’ll also be selling olive oil soap, embroidery, ceramics, earrings, Hirbawi keffiyehs and other crafts from Gaza and elsewhere in Palestine. Although our online Marketplace is currently closed, you can browse there before the sale. We look forward to seeing you!
Note: Some programs will also be livestreamed online. For more information including COVID-19 protocols, visit Overture’s website.
Malak Mattar was 13 and living under Israeli bombardment in Gaza when she decided to direct her ‘negative energy’ into painting
When Family is the Only Shelter
In 2014, Malak Mattar was a 13-year-old in Gaza whose career as an artist was about to begin amid Israeli bombardment of the besieged territory. Looking for a way to “discharge negative energy” and escape the “fear of death”, she picked up a box of watercolours and began to paint. She says it was her way of surviving, adding: “My art is painting experiences from my heart – it represents me.”
Mattar grew up in Gaza City, close to its port. Her father is from the village of Al Jorah, now called Ashkelon, and used to work in the Palestinian foreign service. Her mother is a UN Relief and Works Agency English teacher from al-Batani al-Sharqi, just outside Gaza. Mattar has lived through four wars; her first at the age of eight, and her latest in May 2021, while on a visit to see her parents and three younger siblings. She says that the trauma of war is something she carries within her. “It’s not something that can be let go of, shaken off; it seeps into you and becomes a part of you. How can you process something that has not ended? People don’t survive war, it affects your mental health.”
Sunday, October 3, Noon – 3 pm
James Madison Park shelter
614 E Gorham St, Madison, WI
Wishing you could visit Palestine? Don’t miss this free outdoor celebration of Palestinian dance and culture.
Dance performance by Milwaukee’s Traditional Palestinian Dabka group Al-Ghurba. Free Palestinian snacks and sweets. Taste and celebrate this year’s Olive Harvest! Purchase Palestinian Olive Oil, soap and spices from Playgrounds for Palestine and learn about the playground funded by donations from Madison in the West Bank city of Hebron.
Shop early for the holidays from a selection of Palestinian Kuffiyas and handmade earrings, jewelry and embroidered shawls, scarves, household items, bags, purses and more, made in Palestine by Women in Hebron Craft Cooperative and available in the US from Palestine Partners.
Enjoy a free demonstration of the traditional Palestinian art of Henna painting and have an artist decorate your hands.
Door Prizes, including Olive Oil, a traditional Kuffiya made in Palestine’s last Kuffiya factory, and a hand embroidered coin purse made in Hebron.
This event is free and open to the public. Although the event is in an open park shelter we ask that you wear a mask, to keep yourself and other guests safe. Masks and hand sanitizer will be available free.
Presented by Students for Justice in Palestine, Madison-Rafah Sister City Project, Playgrounds for Palestine Madison Chapter, Palestine Partners, grassroots group Madison for Palestine, and the U.S. Palestinian Community Network.
Visit with Youth of Sumud and your guides Bana & Sami
Join us for a virtual tour of the South Hebron Hills. During this tour we will visit villages in the southern part of the West Bank where Palestinians remain steadfast and continue to resist the constant threats and attacks from nearby Israeli settlements and outposts. Saurora was abandoned in the 1990’s because of settler violence from the nearby illegal Israeli outpost of Havat Ma’On and the ancient cave homes were damaged or demolished. In 2017, members of Youth of Sumud have begun to revive the village of Saurora – rebuilding the caves and establishing a permanent presence there. Youth of Sumud have also taken on the responsibility of accompannying children who have to travel past neaby settlements and outposts to go to school and farmers who face violence from settlers and Israeli soldiers in their fields.
We will visit with Youth of Sumud and also hear about a new campaign, Defund Racism, a Palestinian-led movement to end the use of ‘charitable’ funds raised in the United States to carry out the mission of Israeli settler organizations.
Your Guides, Bana & Sami!
Bana Abu Zuluf is a researcher and community activist with the Good Shepherd Collective, where she has played a crucial role in developing the Campaign to Defund Racism, helping organize over 200 Palestinian organizations, villages and individuals from across historical Palestine to make the call to stop the flow of charitable money to Israeli settler organizations.
Sami Huraini is a political activist and community organizer in Palestine. Huraini co-founded Youth of Sumud, a nonviolent resistance movement that provides material support for marginalized communities facing settler violence across the West Bank. Youth of Sumud spearheaded the efforts to return a Palestinian presence to the displaced community of Sarura after it been abandoned for over 20 years.
Amer Zahr, founder and producer of the annual 1001 Laughs Ramallah Comedy Festival, is a rising star in both the US and the Middle East. Amer is an Arab-American comedian, speaker, political activist, writer, and adjunct professor at the University of Detroit, Mercy School of Law. “Comedy is my form of protest,” says Amer!
Join us for a conversation between Amer Zahr and Nevine El Nossery, Director of the Middle East Studies Program. We will discuss Amer’s upbringing as an Arab American, how comedy and law intersect, and how it is possible to reconcile multiple identities. We will also talk about how American society and politics affect the lives of immigrants in general and Arab-Americans in particular.
We encourage you to watch Amer Zahr’s documentary, We’re Not White, before his talk on September 13. It’s a very thought-provoking educational resource for talking to students about intersectional matters related to race, ethnicity, and other aspects of identity.
Middle East Children’s Alliance (MECA)
Laila El-Haddad and Vivien Sansour cook up a treat as they share stories of Palestinian liberation. Laila & Maggie Schmitt have just published the 3rd edition of Gaza Kitchen, available from Just World Books.
6 pm Central
Maggie Schmitt and Laila El-Haddad’s The Gaza Kitchen cookbook is back in a new, expanded 3rd edition with an all-new Authors’ Introduction, new recipes, new photos, and info from Laila’s late-2019 visit back to Gaza. Join us for the June 15 launch in which the authors will review what’s happened in Gaza and what’s happened in Palestinian cuisine since their ground-breaking First Edition came out in 2012. Cuisine is heritage– and also resilience. Laila and Maggie pull it all together!
Update: The Museum of the Palestinian People will be holding an online event that features a cookalong with both Laila and Maggie — this Sunday, June 20, at 12:00 pm ET (11 am Central). Reserve yourself a spot at that event.
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