Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

News from New York: Tri-State Activism; Refugee Children of Ibdaa Palestinian Dance Troupe Delight New York Audiences

Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

News from New York: Tri-State Activism; Refugee Children of Ibdaa Palestinian Dance Troupe Delight New York Audiences

Article excerpt

NEWS FROM NEW YORK: TRI-STATE ACTIVISM; Refugee Children of Ibdaa Palestinian Dance Troupe Delight New York Audiences

"Ibdaa" in Arabic means "a marvelous achievement; to create something out of nothing." The name could not be more fitting for the folkloric dance troupe of 20 11-to 14-year-old boys and girls from Dheisheh refugee camp who inaugurated a five-city tour of the United States in New York on Sept. 27.

Ibdaa began the day with a performance and press conference in the Visitors' Lobby of the United Nations. In a letter to Secretary-General Kofi Annan, the children of Ibdaa wrote:

Like refugee children all over the world, we are afraid because our future is not safe. And like all children, we want to live in peace. We cannot afford to lose our hope, because that is all we have.... You promised us in U.N. Resolution 194 that you would protect our rights. Please keep your promise to us, so that our hopes can come true.

Following that, Ibdaa participated in "And Still We Dream: An Evening of Poetry and Dance Exploring Home and Homelessness," co-sponsored by Madre and B'na, the Progressive Middle East Alliance. The young dancers performed two beautiful pieces: The Well, about Palestinian farmers and their attachment to the land, and The Tent, about the experiences and hopes of Palestinian refugees.

The emcee was Laura Flanders of Pacifica Radio. She pointed out that Americans have a responsibility for the denial of the right to safe homes for Palestinians, both those living in overcrowded refugee camps, such as Dheisheh, where 11,000 people are confined in less than one square kilometer, and those whose homes have been demolished by the Israeli government, because the vast amount of money the U.S. gives Israel annually finances repressive policies.

The poems were read in Arabic (Manar Faraj of Ibdaa), Spanish (Sonia Rivera from Cuba and Monica Aleman from Nicaragua), and English. Kathleen Chalfant, who created the starting role in the Pulitzer Prize-winning drama "Wit," read a poem about Beirut, 1982, with the moving line that would resonate with refugees anywhere, "You don't belong here." Kathy Engels read an excerpt from Mahmoud Darwish's "Memory for Forgetfulness." The actor Danny Glover drew applause by prefacing his reading with "I'm here to demonstrate my support of the Palestinian people."

INTERNATIONAL ACTION CENTER HOLDS IRAQ PROTEST AT NEW YORK TIMES OFFICE

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