Tomorrow I’ll be heading up to Haifa to interview Salman Natour, author of Memory Talked to Me and Walked Away (among many, many others).

As I revisit his works, I am struck by the beauty, tragedy and symbolism in the simplest of items and the most complex of characters.

Keys, for example, feature in the tale, Sheikh Abbas:

No other inanimate object retains emotion as strongly as keys do. Fingerprints are engraved on them as if the laws of wear and tear do not apply. We can identify hidden traces of sensations, the feelings of people who carried the keys before they were displaced – ebbs and flows, as on an ECG machine recording anger, sadness, joy and serenity.

These keys have inspired countless songs and legends. Legends woven from lost keys, keys left behind, stranded in open gates and doors. Rust-eaten, they await the return of bearers who believed they were only leaving for a few days. But the days grew longer, stretching into weeks, months and years. They never returned to their homes.

Pieces of metal become bearers of memory, emotions and symbols of loss; we discuss the keys, but Natour brings them to life, with the pain that goes with their past and present.

And that’s just keys.

There’s still the post-identity question and the importance of documentation and…


This week marks my third month as an honorary Wassenaarian and though pictures have been taken, they flop at doing the Institute, and its surroundings, justice.


Verbal accounts are either fantastical (“It’s Rivendell-on-Sea!”) or underwhelming (“It’s so damn pretty. No really. The trees.”*).

The Dunes

Luckily, Amrita Das has succeeded on all counts via her recent post on a visit to NIAS this month, so click here, for an insightful and evocative account of this glorious place.

Wassenaar Beach

*To be fair, they are mighty behemoths that arch into arboreal cathedrals and are worthy of names, such as ‘Yggdrasil’ or ‘Fangaorne’. Too much? Piffle.

48mm, 67 yrs

Commemorating 67 years since the 1947 UN Resolution on the Partition of Palestine, Zochrot is holding the 2nd International Film Festival on the Nakba and Return in Jaffa and Tel Aviv.

Flying Paper

To be screened on November 27-29, I’ll be missing it by a few days, but will be looking out for the multitude of short films that will span the three day event, including works by Nitin Sawhney and Roger Hill (Flying Paper), Mohammad Bakri (1948) and a panel on Nakba and Return in Palestinian and Israeli Cinema with Dr. Khalil Rinnawi, Rachel Leah Jones and Dr. Itay Harap.

For further details on the Festival, the full schedule can be found here.

Kufr Birim: Memory and Space

Following from the previous post that evoked Damascus in conjunction with the poetry of Darwish, here is an equally beautiful piece that explores memory and space through the medium of music and Sufi philosophy in the Palestinian village of Kufr Birim:

[T]he video includes acting and modern Sufi dance to depict “the moment when two lovers touch one another, despite the checkpoints and long distances” standing between them. It shows a young woman and man dancing through the ruins of Kufr Birim, among the destroyed homes and buildings, although they cannot touch one another. Saeed Tarabeh, an acclaimed Palestinian vocalist from Sakhnin, sings Arabic poetry as Pauline Laidet reads French-language spoken word poetry in the background.

The project is part of a wider endeavour to remember the site through cultural activism, not only in Kufr Birim, but in Iqrit also, through performance art and a prolongued presence at the sites by members of Insiyab and al-Awda.

More on the clip and its context can be found here; for further details on the work of al-Awda, click here.