Not so long ago, music was recorded, shared, and listened to on cassettes. (For the younger readers, cassettes were small rectangular boxes that contained a magnetic tape on which sound could be recorded and played.) And up until the 2000s, in a world without the immediateness of internet, the only possible way for Palestinians who lived 13,000 kilometers from Palestine to listen to new Arabic music was when someone would travel back to Palestine and return with loads of new cassettes, which would bring us the new artists and albums that were popular in the Arab countries.
I clearly remember the excitement when any of my cousins or relatives would arrive from one of these travels, and the family would gather to listen to the stories of that journey and about what had changed and what was still the same with life in Palestine. Sometimes they would even bring some gifts or letters from al-balad. Along with that, the youth would be eager to discover the newest musical trends and artists that were being listened to in Palestine. The novelty would last for some months or years, just until another family member or friend would return from their own travels.On my first trip to Palestine in the late 2000s I had the opportunity to experience a glimpse of daily life there. During those months, I not only got to see the streets and buildings that I had heard about so often from my grandparents, uncles, and aunts, I was also able to meet family and make friends from whom I have learned so much. I also had the opportunity to see how Palestinians embrace and celebrate life despite the colonization and occupation of a military superpower. All this allowed me to directly experience the Palestinian reality and narrative in a truly enriching way that continues to find an echo in my own sense of identity, my perspectives, and my decisions even today.
It was on this trip that I first read an issue of
This Week in Palestine. I was highly impressed with the breadth of topics it covered and with the talented people who contributed to presenting and promoting the richness of Palestine without ignoring its particular social and political context. So, when I returned to Chile, I brought with me not only loads of new Arabic music in several CDs (technology had already done its thing with cassettes), but also quite a few issues of TWiP.
For more than 25 years,
TWiP has continuously generated content on Palestine, promoting the Palestinian narrative and identity, not through direct politics but through focusing on Palestinian culture and highlighting everything that is beautiful in Palestine, thus encouraging people to visit. And for the diaspora communities who depend on others’ eyes and journeys to see Palestine, TWiP is a powerful window for staying in touch not only with the Palestinian narrative that comes from the homeland but also with our own Palestinian identity and memory, through which we ultimately contribute to the national cause.