The third webinar of the “Return Week” event was marked by thorough contributions from a group of artists who expressed their solidarity with the Palestinian refugee plight and urged the international community to stand up for the right of return.
The session was chaired by Farah Qteinah from the Palestinian Return Centre (PRC).
The first speaker was Chef Rubio, an Italian chef and media icon famed for his enchanting personality and unorthodox approach to food. A keen athlete, Rubio initially studied classics and played rugby at a high level in Italy and New Zealand prior to throwing all of his passion into forging a career in food. Fascinated by different cultures and culinary habits, Rubio accumulated an immense bank of culinary knowledge by visiting a plethora of countries, including Argentina, Finland, Japan, Lebanon and Laos. Rubio is very much in the public eye in Italy thanks to his appearances in a number of hit cooking shows, including Unti e Bisunti and I re della Griglia.
Rubio leveled heavy criticism at the Israeli occupation over its ethnic cleansing policies and human rights abuses against the Palestinians.
He said Israel continues to prevent the Palestinians, whom he described as a highly educated people, from freely going from and back to their homeland.
Speaking next was Malak Matar, an artist who lived through three major attacks on her home. She didn’t start painting until 2012, when the 51-day Israeli assault was raging around her Gaza City home. Like other children, she found herself bored and anxious a lot, since it was not safe to go outside. Malak started painting to discharge all of her negative energy.
Malak had been given some cheap paper and water colors at her government school, and it was all she had at hand at the time of the assault. Soon, though, she discovered she has a budding talent and loved the self-expression the “colors” allowed. She has been painting ever since, although now with acrylics on canvas. She has exhibited her artwork in India, Spain, Paris, fontenay Sous-Bois, 11 states in the USA, 4 exhibitions in the UK and few cities in Turkey.
Malak, who currently lives in Turkey, said the 51-day Israeli offensive on the Gaza enclave claimed the lives of hundreds of civilians. As a result, the artist has done her best to transmit the voice of Palestine through painting.
She said the Palestinians, just like any other people in the world, have the right to return to their native land and live on it peacefully.
Famous rap artist Ibrahim Ghoneim, who was born in Algeria and lived in a refugee camp in Lebanon said music is an important weapon of resistance.
He is most famous for a song he performed during the Great Return March in 2018, which exposed Israel’s attacks against protesters on the Gaza border.
Palestinian activist and artist Ezra, currently living in Austria, said the “Return Week” reminds her of her ties to Palestine which she grew up away from.
Entering now her 28th year of age, Ezra said Palestine remains a source of inspiration for her.
She stressed that the right of return is not just about words or messages that have to be sent to the world; it is about real commitment. She pledged that she will keep up the struggle until her last breath.
For her part, Palestinian-American comedienne and writer Maysoun Zayed tackled the situation of Palestinian refugees with disabilities and their suffering in the occupied Palestinian territories as a result of the discriminatory practices perpetuated by the Israeli occupation.
Maysoon also said the Palestinians do not enjoy equal rights, adding that “the world should remember that we exist and that we will come back to our villages which are still there until the present day”.
The final speaker—activist and rap singer Marwan Abdul Hamid—tackled the importance of mobilizing for the Palestinian cause through art.
Marwan, most famous for his song “Jerusalem Freestyle”, said his works reveal his attempt to refresh the ties between Palestinians at home and in the diaspora and to speak up for underprivileged communities living as expatriates.
On Monday 7th December 2020, the Palestinian Return Centre (PRC) launched its long-awaited event “Return Week”, marking 72 years since the establishment of UN Resolution 194, which outlines the legality of the Palestinian right of return.
The opening panel was marked by the presence of a plethora of prominent academics. Entitled “The Inalienable Right of Return” the panel was chaired by Shabbir Lakha, from Stop the War Coalition and Counterfire.
Held in its first version this year, the 'Return Week' is slated to be held annually by PRC so as to raise awareness amongst the international community about the inalienable right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homeland.
Every year, a plethora of activists, academics, and political commentators will be taking part in seminars organised by PRC as part of 'Return Week', in an attempt to underscore the Palestinian refugee plight and discuss pro-Palestine outreach policy and advocacy mechanisms seeking to enable Palestinian refugees to exercise their right of return, through international laws and conventions.