Tag Archive | Ramallah

The First Palestine Music Expo, Taking Place on April 2017

The First Palestine Music Expo
will be held from April 5-7 2017 in Ramallah, Jerusalem and Haifa.  We hope to shine the spotlight on the budding Palestinian Music Scene and share the beauty of our culture.  It will showcase both established and upcoming Palestinian artists to local audiences and key members of the international music industry.

The First Palestine Music Expo, Taking Place on April 2017

The First Palestine Music Expo, Taking Place on April 2017

These will include record companies, booking agencies, music supervisors, festivals promoters and Media. The Expo will bring artists and professionals together, in an effort to build mutually beneficial relationships and develop valuable networking opportunities in Palestine.

It will include various music genres and showcase performances over two days with a third day put aside for a little fun exploring. The public and our guests are invited to attend these shows in different Palestinian cities and interact with our artists to gain a greater understanding of our music scene and how we create music in Palestine.
All donations raised  will be used to pay for cover travel and accommodation expenses for our delegates as well as production costs associated with running and events and panels.
We wil also set up a $10,000 fund to assist Palestinian musicians with international touring.

Take part in putting the spotlight on Palestinian Music and donate now

GoFundMe: (For donations from all over the world)
Network For Good “Creativevisions” (for US donations with Tax deduction).

All donations are greatly appreciated, and should you choose to donate,  we’d love to include you on our “Contributors Thank You Page”!

LEVEL 1 – FRIEND $Any Amount
Features you on our website/social media

Features you on our website/social media plus 2 tickets to the Palestine Music Expo.

Features you on our website/social media plus 4 tickets to the Palestine Music Expo

Features you on our website/social media plus 4 tickets to the Palestine Music Expo and a tour of Jerusalem during the Expo.

Features you on our website/social media plus 4 tickets to the Palestine Music Expo, a tour of Jerusalem during the Expo and a private Palestinian dinner with the team.

LEVEL 6 – PATRON $2500
Features you on our website/social media plus 4 tickets to the Palestine Music Expo, tour of Jerusalem during the Expo, a private Palestinian dinner with the team as well as a special performance with an artist

Features you on our website/social media plus 4 tickets to the Palestine Music Expo, tour of Jerusalem as well as a private Palestinian dinner with the team, a special performance with a Palestinian artist AND In addition, a panel will be :

*(Gifts do not include flight/accommodation expenses)




Palestinian chefs frustrated, while Israeli food culture soars

Posted on: July 2015

By Daniella Cheslow

When Sari Sakakini opened his ceramic-tiled Orjuwan deli in Ramallah’s well-to-do Masyoun neighborhood, he hoped it would bePalestinian-Food_01 the start of a global franchise of Palestinian food. A year later, that hope has dimmed.

The shop’s bright wooden shelves hold only a sparse collection of homemade sauces, glossy olives and prepared soups. His kitchen staff, which also cooks for the attached restaurant of the same name, could not keep up the inventory.

“I want to put Palestinian food all over the world,” said Sakakini. “But over here, it’s just putting food on the table.”

Ramallah is the cultural and political hub of West Bank Palestinian life, and in recent years it has seen a blossoming of restaurants. But unlike top-tier eateries in Beirut or Amman, Jordan, Ramallah’s culinary scene stews under a lid of a stagnating local economy, conservative tastes and onerous Israeli restrictions.

It’s a frustration for Palestinian food professionals, whose distress is heightened by living alongside an Israeli culinary boom.


Skilled staff are sparse in a land with few culinary schools. Sakakini’s head chef is a full-time schoolteacher from the West Bank city of Hebron. There are no full-time Palestinian food critics or gastronomy magazines to spur innovation. Peter Nasir, who’d hoped his Azure restaurant would become a culinary destination, recently lamented that chicken chow mein was about all the adventure his clientele would tolerate.

And for all the eateries, profits are filo dough-thin, reflecting double taxation on imported ingredients and a tiny stock of customers shared among dozens of restaurants.

“Palestine is literally a forgotten corner,” Sakakini said. “Jordan is . . . at least five or 10 years ahead of us. Lebanon is also at least 10 years ahead of us.”

The scene is much different in Israel.


Food lovers flock to Tel Aviv, named by Saveur magazine as an outstanding culinary destination in 2014. Israeli-born London chef Yotam Ottolenghi’s cookbooks have each become global bestsellers, published in multiple languages. Sabra-brand hummus, half owned by the Israeli Strauss Group, is the official dip of the National Football League.

The international acclaim is just icing on the cake, because Israelis eagerly devour their own food as well. The local edition of “MasterChef,” now in its fifth season, is among the highest-rated TV shows, and Israelis also pioneered and exported a reality cooking TV format called “Game of Chefs.”

“It’s very emotional for me,” Sakakini said of the global infatuation with Israeli cuisine. “It’s the same kitchen.”

Israeli cuisine fuses Palestinian flavors to Jewish kitchens from around the world. Palestinian cooks trace their roots to the Levant, be it Lebanese-Syrian recipes, Bedouin dishes or prized specialties of the Ottoman Empire. A glance at Palestinian cooks inside Israel reveals the cuisine’s potential.

Celebrity chef Nof Atamna-Ismaeel of the Arab Israeli town of Baka al Gharbiyeh recently conducted a cooking workshop at a culinary academy in Tel Aviv’s tony renovated port. Atamna-Ismaeel, 34, is a doctorate-holding microbiologist who cooked at night until she won Israel’s “MasterChef” in April 2014. The victory catapulted her to national fame; today she is a guest chef at renowned restaurants and a frequent contributor to national food magazines.


Fifteen Israelis eagerly watched her roll tamarind-flavored stuffed grape leaves and knead semolina dough for date cookies at the workshop. Atamna-Ismaeel abided by kosher cooking regulations, including the prohibition on non-Jews lighting the stove. She plans to open an Arab-Jewish cooking school in her hometown in northern Israel; it would be the only Israeli institution to offer culinary lessons in Arabic.

“‘MasterChef’ was the place that gave me a platform to continue,” Atamna-Ismaeel said as she spread the yogurt cheese labaneh on a glass platter. “It helped me decide. I always said, ‘I know I cook well, but maybe not well enough.’”


What for Atamna-Ismaeel has been a meteoric rise to prominence is a distant dream for West Bank Palestinians.

Peter Nasir, 34, studied computer science at Emory University in Atlanta and discovered his love of food while cooking for his roommates. They relished his okra stew and mensaf, a dish made with rice, meat and rehydrated salty dried yogurt.

Nasir returned to Ramallah, and after working for foreign aid organizations, in 2007 he converted his family’s stone home and shaded courtyard into Azure. When he opened its doors, Nasir planned a short, curated menu highlighting local fare, fresh ingredients and subtle foreign twists. His enthusiasm was boundless; his customers’ was not.

To stay in business, Nasir sliced down his ambitions and tripled his offerings. Today he serves Palestinian standards like hummus and grilled meats along with hamburgers, Mongolian-style steak and chicken Cordon Bleu, a cut of chicken breast pounded flat, wrapped around cheese and a slice of smoked turkey and fried. The dish is conventionally served with ham, but Nasir said he only cooks pork by special order to avoid offending Muslim clients.


“You have to target the masses,” Nasir said. “When people are strapped for cash they want something guaranteed. They don’t want to spend their money experimenting.”

Nasir’s quandary highlights the grinding realities of life in Ramallah. The average Israeli annual salary is 10 times the average Palestinian’s of about $3,000. A quarter of Palestinian workers are employed by their government, and when the national budget runs low – as happened in February when Israel froze the transfer of taxes to Ramallah – business slows down.

Beyond sheer economics, Nasir’s customers are more risk averse because they travel far less than their Israeli counterparts. Most West Bank and Gazan Palestinians are prohibited from entering Israel or using the Tel Aviv airport. Travel abroad via Jordan is possible but a nuisance. Even driving between Bethlehem and Ramallah within the West Bank can take hours because of bypass roads that skirt Jerusalem.

Nasir, who holds a Jerusalem ID that permits him free travel in Israel, said his favorite restaurant is Tel Aviv’s brasserie-inspired Montefiore Hotel restaurant.

“I’ll spend the same amount of money (as I would in Ramallah) and enjoy eating from a chef in a proper place which is actually creative and doing different things, not the same typical food,” Nasir said.

On his way back to Ramallah, Nasir buys Heinz ketchup and mayonnaise outside Tel Aviv to skirt the double taxation imposed by Israel and the Palestinian government on imported goods.


Despite the limitations, Palestinian cooking is not without aspirations. The Gaza Kitchen cookbook, published in 2013, garnered international acclaim for its recipes of spicy seaside cuisine from the isolated enclave.

East Jerusalem chef Johnny Goric trained in the holy city’s Notre Dame hospitality school, then studied at the French culinary bastions Institut Paul Bocuse and Lycée Francois Rabelais. Now Goric is finalizing the syllabus for a $500,000 culinary academy he plans to open in Ramallah in September that will train students in local cuisine and international techniques.

“I look at the Israeli chef in the eyes and we know we are on the same level,” said Goric, who planned the menu for a private dinner served to visiting Pope Francis in 2014. He was also a judge during the short-lived Palestinian “MasterChef.”

Goric won three gold medals at the 2010 Chef’s World Cup in Luxembourg for his tapas, fish platters and terrines. Often, while his kitchen staff at the Legacy Hotel turn out a traditionalist menu of Palestinian and Italian stalwarts, Goric crafts beautifully plated entrees for competitions abroad.


At Orjuwan, co-owner Sakakini said Goric’s school would be a lifeline. He said managing and training staff to use state-of-the-art equipment like a steam oven has been so all-consuming that when he started a food magazine called Ingredients in 2012, he folded after three months for lack of time.

“Our cuisine is rich but it has to be better presented and upgraded,” Sakakini said. “We’re not missing anything.”












From national resistance to global movement – an intro to Palestinian graffiti (PHOTOS)

Posted on: March 3, 2015

By Hugh Lovatt

Judging by a quick Google search and perusal of Facebook and Twitter, the renowned British graffiti artist has managed to put Gaza and the plight of its inhabitants back into the international spotlight. Something badly needed given that six months after the longest and bloodiest round of fighting to date, Gaza has fallen off the international community’s foreign policy agenda, even as the still devastated Strip slips towards yet another round of violence with Israel. Yet despite this devastation, or perhaps because of it, urban art has flourished there.

Gaza Graffiti Exhibition, Bir Zeit Univesity

Gaza Graffiti Exhibition, Bir Zeit Univesity

Even before Banksy’s recent trip to Gaza, Palestinian graffiti had already reached a high degree of aesthetic refinement. In fact, the development of graffiti in Palestine can be traced all the way back to the First Intifada where it was an integral part of the Palestinian national movement and the strategy of civil disobedience against Israeli occupation. Banksy and other foreign artists have though provided local Palestinian artists with a unique insight into the latest techniques and trends, creating a unique form of graffiti that mixes local and global aesthetics.

Israeli Wall at the Qalandiya Checkpoint, West Bank

Israeli Wall at the Qalandiya Checkpoint, West Bank

The West Bank has steadily turned into one of the most established graffiti scenes in the Arab world, if not the whole world, offering stunning examples of the various forms into which graffiti can evolve.


Graffiti traces its origins back to the first Palestinian Intifada during which it was primarily used as a vehicle for the articulation of Palestinian identity. This was especially important due to widespread crackdowns on Palestinian nationalism by Israel as well as the banning of Palestinian flags and public declarations of allegiances to Palestinian political organizations.

Modern day graffiti in Ramallah

Modern day graffiti in Ramallah

As a result, graffiti was one of the few uncensored channels of expression through which Palestinians were able to safely articulate their repressed Palestinian identity without fear of Israeli retribution.

Graffiti in Ramallah, “Your are Never Alone”

Graffiti in Ramallah, “Your are Never Alone”

Following the end of the First Intifada, graffiti in the West Bank started to develop aesthetically beyond simple tags or scribbles to focus on more visually pleasing pieces. These nonetheless retained their value as didactic sub-texts that can be read and de-coded by Palestinian audiences.

Graffiti in Ramallah showing masked Palestinian holding a key and pencil

Graffiti in Ramallah showing masked Palestinian holding a key and pencil

A major part of this visual aestheticization was the incorporation of popular Palestinian symbolism, such as the widespread use of the pre-1948 map of Palestine, the al-Aqsa mosque and the recurrent image of the key symbolising the right of return for refugees as well as the black and white kufiya representing Palestinian nationalism, and the olive tree depicting the Palestinian concept of sumud or steadfastness.

Graffiti in Ramallah showing “Handhala”

Graffiti in Ramallah showing “Handhala”

But without a doubt the most popular symbol is that of a ten-year-old boy named Handhala. First created by the Palestinian journalist Naji al-Ali in 1969, the character is typically drawn turned away from the viewer with his hands crossed behind his back. Since then Handhala has become synonymous with Palestinian non-violent resistance, and more recently a symbol of Palestinian “hip-hop” culture.

Mural in in the Aida refugee camp near Bethlehem

Mural in in the Aida refugee camp near Bethlehem

Part of the widespread appeal that such objects represent for graffiti artists is their ability to produce a deep emotional response through relatively simple imagery that is easily reproduced, even by those relatively unskilled. More importantly, these images are easily recognized and understood by Palestinians, both in Israel as well as in the OPTs and diaspora communities around the world, as they form an integral part of a common Palestinian cultural heritage. As such, these images constitute hidden transcripts capable of mobilizing Palestinians around a national discourse by creating an imagined community tied to a common spatial identity and forged through collective suffering and individual losses.


Political slogan celebrating the establishment of the DFLP

Political slogan celebrating the establishment of the DFLP

As the numerous political slogans adorning Palestinian walls attest to, graffiti has also been seized upon by Palestinian factions such as PFLP, DFLP, Fatah and Hamas who see in it an effective means of disseminating their own propaganda.

Mural celebrating the PFLP’s leaders and martyrs in Bethlehem. Photo courtesy of the artist “Muhannad”

Mural celebrating the PFLP’s leaders and martyrs in Bethlehem. Photo courtesy of the artist “Muhannad”

Graffiti murals glorify the leaders and martyrs of Palestinian groups, emphasising their historic role in the Palestinian struggle. Hamas in particular has played a major role in the advancement of graffiti through the creation of art academies where graffiti artists can obtain an ‘ijaza or certificate allowing them to carry out graffiti commissions on behalf of the Islamist group.