Just Downright Sad

Palestinian authorities have disbanded a youth orchestra from the West Bank, because it played for an Israeli group of elderly Holocaust survivors. Adnan Hindi, from Jenin, referred to the Holocaust as a ‘political issue’ and accused the orchestra conductor, Wafta Younis, of ‘dragging the children into a political dispute’.

Now Younis has been barred permanently from apartment where she taught the Strings Of Freedom Orchestra – the property has been boarded up. “She exploited the children,” said Hindi, the head of the camp’s popular committee, which takes on municipal duties. She will be forbidden from doing any activities.” The move highlights the reluctance of many Palestinians to acknowledge what the Jews suffered in the Holocaust. Kaynan Rabino, director of Ruach Tova ( Good Spirit) the charity that organized the event, said he was disappointed to hear about the reaction in Jenin. “They approached us and volunteered to play. Wafa knew the orchestra would play before Holocaust survivors,” he said. “We wanted to bring people’s hearts closer together and if they are against that then that’s a real shame.”

Jenin was the scene of a violent conflict in April 2002, which saw the deaths of 23 Israeli soldiers , alongside 53 Palestinian militants, over several days of fighting. The youths, aged 11 to 18, of the modest orchestra performed a goodwill concert for elderly survivors in the Israeli town of Holon Wednesday. The event, held at the Holocaust Survivors Center in the central Israeli town, was part of Good Deeds Day, an annual event. Hindi said the children’s parents were not aware that the orchestra would play for Holocaust survivors. Younis was not immediately available for comment.

But as the debate raged on over the weekend, she said on Saturday that her intention was purely to perform music. “We didn’t do anything wrong,” she said. At last Wednesday’s performance, most of the Holocaust survivors did not know the youths were Palestinians from the West Bank. And the youths had no idea they were performing for people who lived through Nazi genocide – or even what the Holocaust was.

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