A time to cry
Four Palestinian voices, led by Rim Banna, sing to a packed audience jostling together in the small rooms in the house where 90-year-old Rafiq Al-Kurd and her family live in the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood. Many of the local inhabitants have been forced to move after brutal night raids where Israeli settlers have thrown them out of their houses and taken over their homes. The singers perform their laments to the accompaniment of a Norwegian/American band. Some of the songs have been written for the occasion, others are old traditional songs from Palestine. With the heading "A time to cry, a lament over Jerusalem" they join a 3000 year old tradition in Jerusalem: Weeping and mourning for the city that so often has let its inhabitants suffer at the hands of greed, hate, misguided religious zeal and lust for power.
Rim Banna, Wissam Murad, Nai Barghouthi and Jawaher Shofani have chosen from two to four songs each. The target audience for their songs is us in the West; the big world far away from the little country on the innermost shores of the Mediterranean. We who for far too long have silently allowed the Israelis to break up the last bits of land that were once assigned to the Palestinians. In recent years, this fragmentation has taken on the cloak of systematic ethnic discrimination in Jerusalem, and Israeli settlers, supported by Israeli soldiers and police, are allowed to commit criminal offences against Palestinian families. Their houses are stolen and children and elderly people are brutally thrown out into the street. The purpose is unambiguously expressed by the most aggressive settlers: They want to stop the Palestinians from ever being able to call Jerusalem their capital. This strategy is actively supported by the actions of the Israeli authorities.
The Norwegian musicians taking part in the project are Hallgrim Bratberg (guitar), Kenneth Ekornes (drums) and Gjermund Silset (bass). Steve Gorn from the US plays oriental flute and clarinet. The CD was recorded under extremely difficult circumstances; the project’s success could be threatened if the Israelis broke up the house concert. A backup solution was prepared so an extra set of equipment was on standby at a hotel in the area, but in contrast to a number of Palestinian cultural events in East Jerusalem lately, this concert was allowed to proceed without interruption.
The idea for the project was conceived a year ago when the staff of KKV were on a study trip in Jerusalem. Here they met some of the families who had already been evicted by the Israelis, and this was the impetus for this musical act of solidarity in cooperation with the Palestine cultural institution Yabous.
Rim Banna is very well known to many Norwegians after the duet with Kari Bremnes on the CD "Lullabies from the Axis of Evil" and three solo records released by KKV. The young girl Nai Barghouthi, 13 and from Ramallah, recently won a Palestine talent competition. Wissam Murad is a songwriter and a former soloist in the group Sabreen, and Jawaher Shofani has been a wedding and funeral singer in Galilee throughout her long life. She also participated on "Lullabies from the Axis of Evil".
Erik Hillestad has produced the project, funded by Norwegian Church Aid and the World Council of Churches.