Public Comment

New: Jerusalem Concert by Children's Orchestra Cancelled by Israeli Government Action

By Samia Nasir Khoury
Tuesday January 24, 2012 - 09:20:00 AM

Friends and family who know me well know how I would love to hibernate in winter. I am just not a winter person, and I would never contemplate stepping out of the house on a rainy day, especially these days when my falls have become unpredictable. Last Sunday seemed to be a nice sunny day, but by noon it turned to be a very rainy and wet day. The Jerusalem children’s orchestra of the Edward Said National Conservatory was scheduled to perform at the Cultural Palace in Ramallah, and the next day at the National Theatre in Ramallah. I already made up my mind to go the next day to Jerusalem and avoid the drive through Kalandia where the road ends up more like a river when the heavy rains fall. But alas the last minute the concert in Jerusalem was cancelled because the children from the West Bank were not granted permits. 

For the love of my granddaughter Rand (11) who plays the cello with the orchestra, I was not going to hibernate on that dreadful Sunday afternoon. The children had spent the last three days at the music camp site in Birzeit training for that concert, and they did a marvelous job. As I listened to a lovely variety—Chopin, Sousa, Gershwin, Vivaldi and others—I could not but wonder, why would the Israeli authority prevent children ages 11-16 to get into Jerusalem. Are their violins, cellos , bassoons, or trumpets any threat to the security of Israel? Or is it one more harassing measure to deprive the children and the community from a little bit of pleasure? They grudge us even that much while they claim they are the centre of enlightenment and culture. 

Samia Nasir Khoury retired in 2003 after serving for 17 years as president of Rawdat El-Zuhur, a coeducational elementary school for the lower income community in East Jerusalem. She continues to serve as treasurer of the board of the Sabeel Ecumenical Liberation Theology Center in East Jerusalem and on the board of trustees of Birzeit University in Birzeit, Palestine. 

Samia was deeply involved with the YWCA, including serving as the national president of the YWCA of Jordan for two terms (as the Palestinian West Bank had been annexed to Jordan in 1950). When Jordan severed its ties with the West Bank in 1988, the YWCA of Palestine was reestablished, and she was its first president from 1991-96. Her breadth of international experience has also included addressing two UN NGO Forums: in New York in 1996, and in Athens in 2000.