The Palisra Project
by Nizar Habash
The resolution of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is central to stability in the Middle East and around the world. Much of the efforts spent in the past on conflict resolution in this region have focused on intellectual solutions to political issues such as territorial divisions, while ignoring the deeper emotional cultural divisions that separate Arabs and Jews. The Palisra Project aims at creating a cultural artistic movement to construct a common future identity for today’s Palestinians and Israelis. This constructed identity will build on shared aspects of both Arab and Jewish culture but will crucially be distinct and separate from either. The project aims at constructing new cultural symbolism (religious, linguistic and political), that is aesthetically appealing and emotionally inspiring to people from both sides. The result of the Palisra Project will be the creation of the missing soul of a peaceful one state for all of its citizens in Israel-Palestine. The impact of this idea is to open people’s mind to new possibilities of peaceful co-existence and to make the idea of living together less foreign and even more beautiful and enticing. With this missing component realized, the political realization of a peaceful solution will be more possible. Similar approaches can be tried in other parts of the world facing conflict and strife.
Currently we have created a couple of seeds for this project. We believe these pieces will inspire more people to participate in the Palisra Project using other media and themes. One seed is a collection of pieces, in which we explore different ways of combining symbols of national and religious identity of both Palestinians and Israelis. The combination is done in such a way as to maintain the original symbols but also create new symbolic meaning that is highlighted by the combination itself. An on-line gallery of some of the pieces is available at http://www.palisra.com . It includes, among others, pieces such as a national flag, money note design, a Jewish yarmulke made from Palestinian Kuffiye cloth and a transparent Mezuzah filled with a Quranic scroll.
The second seed is an Esperanto-like constructed language named Semiti. Semiti is a homogenous mix of Arabic and Hebrew drawing on shared aspects of the two languages but with its own beauty, elegance and richness. So far, we have completed a description of the phonology, morphology and syntax of Semiti and are revising a lexicon of 1,500 words. A basic phrase book is also in the works. The language is designed in a way to be easily recognizable by both Arabic and Hebrew speakers. It is also simpler and more regular than Arabic or Hebrew and thus easy to learn and use by speakers of other languages. We envision that Semiti will become the symbolic language of the peace movement in Palestine-Israel. Le salom u le haya! (to peace and to life!)
This project has been funded completely independently by the artist.
2008-2009 © Nizar Habash. All Rights Reserved.