Thursday, August 21, 2008

Arnaud and Mia Beerends

A day or so after I learned that the artist Arnaud Beerends had died, I talked on the phone with his widow Mia. Two days after our conversation Mia as well had passed away. What a shock!

I remember the two of them from birthday parties at the home of one of their daughters, our friend Hagar. Arnaud the white plumed, fun-filled presence with his delightful and pretty Mia always on his side. Inseparable.

As an immigrant I feel the need to spend some time thinking about folks whose lives touched mine, ours.

Arnaud and Mia leave an indelible memory, Arnaud Beerends also a lovely body of art, including a memorial monument for Steve Biko, a World War II Plague and countless poetic mixed media pieces.
Thanks to the web site that his son-in-law Broes created we can pay our respect by viewing (hit "vervolg" at lower left corner home page) the images of his work.

We remember fondly the times we spent under one roof with Arnaud and Mia, celebrating their wonderful extended family.
Our hearts go out to those who remain.

Subsidized Art in the Netherlands

Starting January 1, 2009 a renewed art subsidy system will go in effect. Minister Plasterk (Culture Department of the Dutch Government) will directly subsidize the companies he considers of vital importance to a healthy Dutch cultural life.

61 Organizations listed to receive the Minister's Structural Long-Term financial support won't have to apply for funds every four years.
Among the lucky between whom 230 million Euro will be divided: De Nederlandse Opera, Het Nationaal Ballet, Het Nederlands Danstheater, symphony orchestras, museums and supporting organizations.

145 Companies and organizations will receive their subsidies from the Minister as well. As to how the 76 million Euro will be divided, and among whom, the Minister will be advised by the Raad voor Cultuur (Culture Council) every four years after the companies have submitted their applications for funding. In the years between 2009-2012 Toneelgroep Amsterdam, as well as certain large dance companies, but also theater workshops for young theater makers and youth theater will be subsidized.

All other (recognized) art institutions will receive financial support from other funding sources of the government, of which the Nederlands Fonds Podium Kunst (NFPK - Netherlands Foundation for Performance Arts) has 86 million to divy up. Foundations such as the NFPK only need to report back to the Minister, and have more independence to make decisions as they see fit.

59 Companies that were previously subsidized are losing their funding for the period 2009-2012.
In their place (newer) companies that showed greater cultural business sense have been rewarded with a four year subsidy.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Letter to Hisam, Father of Ahmed

Ahmed Musa

From One Bereaved Palestinian Father to Another

An open letter by Bassam Aramin, co-founder of Combatants for Peace
Translated from the Arabic by Miriam Asnes

Dear Hisam, father of Ahmed, may he rest in peace,

I learned of the death of your son, Ahmed Musa, through a one-sentence newsflash on the Palestinian news station Ma'an last Tuesday: "Ahmed Musa, a young boy, was killed by a bullet of the occupying forces in Nil'in." I was immediately overcome with shock and grief and bitter tears. And above all, that relentless feeling of powerlessness that I know too well. We Palestinians cannot protect our children from being killed. Not because they are soldiers on the battlefield, but because we cannot imprison them in our homes. They must live their lives, play outside the house, go to school. We tell ourselves that there must be in our land a safe place to protect our little ones. Should not our villages be safe? Should not the courtyards of our homes be safe? And the safest place of all—should this not be the schoolyard?

But our children are still murdered in cold blood in front of our homes, in the heart of our villages and in our schools. For on another black Tuesday a year and a half ago, soldiers of the occupation killed my own beloved ten-year-old daughter. Abir Aramin was shot in the head in front of her school in the village of Anata on January 16th, 2007. Ahmed and Abir passed on the same day of the week, at the same age; both were shot in the head by the same kind of killer: one of the Israeli border patrol guards.

The moment I heard the news of your son's death, I found myself speaking aloud to him. "Ya Ahmed, please give my regards and my love to Abir. Your two pure souls will meet in paradise. Go in peace, beloved, do not fear for you are not alone—there are others there waiting for you. Ready to greet you are more than a thousand Palestinian children who have been killed since the year 2000. And though I hope with all my heart, Ahmed, that you will be the last victim of these legitimized Israeli war crimes, I cannot help but wonder—who will be killed next?"

We Palestinian parents—are we not fully responsible for what happens to our children? For why do we allow our children to go out into the streets in the light of day? Why do we permit them play outside the house? Why do we not only let them, but actually encourage them to go to school and be educated? And even more importantly, I place the blame our martyred children—how dare you let your heads get in the way of the Israeli sharpshooters? Let's try to be reasonable: the soldiers of the occupation don't really want to kill our children, it can't be a deliberate policy of intimidation and violence—they are simply trying to help us keep our children in a safe place. And clearly they believe that the safest place for our children to be, where no one can harm them, is in their graves.

When I heard what happened to Ahmed, I was in the middle of reading a book about international human rights and the specific laws pertaining to children in times of war and armed struggle. Every Palestinian should read these laws until he knows his rights, and every Israeli should read these same laws until he understands the enormity of the criminal and fascist practices of the Israeli army against the Palestinian people.

Major General Gabi Ashkenazi, Chief of Staff of the Israeli Occupation Forces, has said that "My greatest fear is the loss of humanity [among Israeli troops] because of the ongoing warfare." I must inform the distinguished General that he lost his humanity a long time ago. He and his army should fear for their loss of humanity, for under his leadership the Israeli army killed Ahmed Musa. And if he doesn't care about Ahmed because he is a Palestinian, General Ashkenazi should at least be afraid that his army has lost its humanity in its treatment of Israelis as well. We have all seen how Israeli soldiers treat their own people who join us Palestinians in peaceful protest in Bil'in and Nil'in and Artash and in the Galilee and in Tulkarem. Did the General see when soldiers fired rubber bullets at Dr. Tsfiyah Shapira and her son Itamar, who were participating in a peaceful march in the village of Shufa near Tulkarem alongside many peace activists? I'm guessing that he did witness this, in fact I would guess that General Ashkenazi ordered this operation and the many others like it. Look closely, General, and you will find the source of your fear.

Hisam, Ahmed and Abir have gone to the hereafter, and I promise you that in eternity they will outlive their murderers. Our children are the epitome of innocent humanity, and their killers are the most despicable of criminals. But while such ruthless men exist as part of the occupying army, please know that there are thousands of Israelis who refuse to participate in these crimes, who are ashamed at the bloody stains that soak the uniform of the Israeli army and all those who would call its conduct moral or democratic. There are Israelis like Tsfiya and Itamar who feel it is their moral, and human, duty to stand with us.

They have killed our children, Hisam. What can we do but fight on? We will never lay down our arms. For despite the advanced military technology and deadly force that we face, it is we who posses the most dangerous weapons of all. These are the weapons of morality and justice. We will not surrender these in the face of brutality, and we will be steadfast in demanding justice for our children. Ahmed and Abir's murderers must be judged and sentenced as criminals. Let me be clear: we do not seek revenge. Justice for our beloved, dead children will not be served by the murder of a young Israeli girl in front of her school, or by the murder of a young Israeli boy by a bullet to the head. We will refuse to mirror the violent means of the occupation. You and I, and every Palestinian, must let our morals and our humanity and the teachings of our great faith be our guides.

Yours in bereavement and steadfastness,
Bassam Aramin

Alquds for Democracy and Dialogue chairman

New source Anja Meulenbelt

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Holland Acht Exceptional

Watching the news, staying in tune with what's happening in their own country and around the world, is a Dutch national pass time. Especially the baby boomers and older honor the nearly sacred minutes between 8-8:30 p.m. "when the news comes on".

Younger Dutch are no different, they need their fill on what's happening, and added to that, they want to keep their circle of friends and relatives posted on what's happening in their lives, no matter where they are. Not being able to do so causes great frustration.

Dutch rowers are once again represented by a team of Holland Acht ((in 1996 Holland Acht took the Gold Medal home from Atlanta). This week the top of Dutch rowers will cut the water again in the Olympic rowing finals. When Exception IT, the team's sponsor, discovered that the athletes weren't able to connect with the folks back home through Hyves (the Dutch social network site and variation of MySpace) the sponsor installed a web server just for that purpose. Exceptional sponsoring indeed.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Manifest Hope Contest - Shepard Fairey Poster

DON'T CLICK ON POSTER CLICK ON THE LINKS BELOW IMAGE!
ObamaHope designed by Shepard Fairey (check out his page at artsy dot net as well).

MoveOn.org has partnered with Shepard Fairey to create the Manifest Hope Online Gallery Art Contest.
Are you an artist and do you want to participate, read the
rules and regulations
They're waiting for you to sign up