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The Palestinian Land Day Night

By Cécile Marsa

Having got an invitation from the Palestinian ambassador’s hand in Bucharest – H.E. Mr. Ahmad Aqel – I went, with some Erasmus friends, on Thursday 10th April 2014, to the Sala Mare of the Palatul National al Copiilor of Bucharest, in order to witness, with the local Palestinian community, festivities on the occasion of the Palestinian Land Day.

We didn’t know what to expect at all. Everything we knew about Palestine came down to the newspapers and in a highly complex history with its neighbors. To talk about the experience we have been through this night, we learned a lot and we are ready to discover more.

We have been personally welcome by the ambassador and his wife – Mrs. Nahla Aqel. We have been immediately seduced by our hosts’ hospitality, typical from the Arabic world. We sat in the middle of a Palestinian and Romanian crowd with their families in order to commemorate “Yom al-Ard”, the events of March 30th 1976.

These festivities began with an eminently passionate speech from Sultan Abu Al-Einen, member of the central committee of the Fatah party. On February 19th 1976, the Israeli Government launched a nationalization program for the lands belonging to Arabic Israelis. Outraged, the owner demonstrated and the local press severely put them down. On the March 30th, the demonstrations which went to Palestine turned into a revolt with a toll of 6 deaths, thousands of wounded and thousands of arrests. Restricting the vague desires of revenge as most as possible, he pronounced a highly religious speech for the memory of “those forgotten we thought off, broken, resigned, if not integrated”. Despite some accusations, this speech was perfect for the occasion, the commemoration of the heroes and the cause they fought for and which is making the proud of their Nation. As an Erasmus student, we were prepared for all kinds of cultural shocks, but I have to admit that we needed some time to get use to the religious content of this speech, as we grew up with the laic speeches of our own countries, in front of these words tinged with Koran extracts. After a time of adaptation, we understood what was making the strength of this Nation, its conviction, its determination, its dreams, its hope and its perseverance. Paying tribute to Romania first by playing its national anthem – Desteapta-te, Romane -, the organizers of this evening played after the anthem of Palestine: Biladi, Biladi.

Let’s talk about dance and songs. The discovery of a culture goes through its music and its clothes. Everything was there, from embroidered dresses to keffiyeh. The show began with the category “amateur” or “be lenient, it’s just the beginning of our career”. Some adorable children and teenagers in shinning clothes followed one another caring proudly the colors and the symbols of their country. Well trained, they made the pride of their family and the happiness of the viewers. Then the category of the professionals arrived from Bulgaria, where they were stopping during their tour: the Fnonyat band of folklore and folk dance. In an exhausting rhythm and over an enthralling music, we assisted to a fascinating representation of the “al-Dabka”, characterized by jumps and kicks. To punctuate the rhythm, the dancers used a bright vocalization too, under the applause of a rapturous public.

This was an unforgivable evening, an improbable experiment, a discovery up to the Erasmus expectations.

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