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First glimpse of the museum

Friday 31 October 2014

In October 2014, in the framework of the annual general meeting of the associations of friends of Wahat al-Salam – Neve Shalom, the first formal meeting took place in the new Museum, Gallery & Archive. The building was not yet complete (still lacking some of its doors and windows) but was ready enough to host the activity.

A crowd gathered on the pateo, including members of the friends associations, village members, children, and guests that included the abbot and monks from the Latroun Abbey.

When everyone had assembled, village member Michal Moses began an outdoor activity, with two questions, “What does a museum represent for me? What little points of light would I like to add to the canvas?”

People sat on the open pateo and happily drew on their sheets, and she promised to add their works together in a way that would symbolize partenership. Michal is the artist who deals with the transformation of trash to art and is developing what she calls a “musebali” which combines the words museum with the Hebrew/Arabic words for garbage.

After the art exercise, Eyas Shbeta opened the evening with some words of thanks and appreciation to everyone who had contributed and helped in the opening of the museum, and invited everyone to enter the building.

Dyana Shaloufi Rizek was the first speaker:

I first visited WAS-NS as an art student, taking part in an SFP encounter workshop. One of my first thoughts then was that this would be a perfect place for an art gallery; that it must have a gallery.

In more recent years we, the community, have been thinking very seriously about establishing a gallery or a museum. But it has taken a few years for us to begin. Before his death in 2012, Abdessalam had formed a small committee to consider how to proceed and began to work with a few people in the village. Dafna, when she in turn began to manage the Spiritual Center, took over from Abdessalam in this and appealed to me to start the project. At the time I had just completed many years of volunteering with the Nadi and felt that I needed to take a break. So it took me two months before agreeing.

So we started together, and tried to learn why our previous attempts had fallen down. We initiated a small committee that included Ety, Dorit and Michal Moses – with also Yasmin, Fatin, Rajah and others in the background, providing moral support. In the beginning we wanted to work only with women. We thought it would bring a more peaceful energy to the project.

As we continued we actually understood that we had three separate projects. For now, we have only this empty Museum, Gallery & Archive. We don’t know for sure how the project will grow, but we will develop it step by step, in coordination with the wishes of the community. One wall will show the beginnings of the community. Another will show the village and its institutions.

I think Bruno Hussar would be proud of us. We think that people will choose this institution as something that expresses the aspirations of the village. We are all working together with one human goal. We will tell here, on one of the walls, our personal stories. Instead of portraying the Holocaust and the Nakba on the wall, we can do other things. We can place our own stories reflecting the history and culture of our lives. To maximize our use of the available space, we will create drawers that contain materials for people who wish to delve deeper. We will use videos, photos and other reading materials.

Audio and multimedia equipment will serve the visitors too.

The PSCC and the "Musebali" will be complementary spaces to this effort, as will be the natural surroundings of the village. We want it to be a place that children and all ages will want to visit.

When Ibrahim began to work on the building it seemed that it would take a miracle to turn this into an attractive space, but together, we performed such a miracle.
We hope to attract artists who will present temporary exhibitions of their work here, in the small inner hallway and stairs. In fact, we think that before we develop all the different facets of the museum, we should open ourselves to the creativity and ideas of many people.

I think we are guided by our community’s ideals in this. They help us to be aware of our responsibilities towards ourselves, towards humanity, towards the environment and the world.

The room where we are seated will represent People who have different interests. It is a space that attracts and contain diversity. We will look at various men and women who have managed to build bridges between people – like Martin Luther King, Gandhi, Mandela and others – but not only those who became leaders or achieved fame. There are many others who also deserve our respect. There will be space on the museum’s walls and in its drawers to present their work too.

Reuben Moscovitch, who helped to initiate and raise funds for the project, is not with us tonight, but he is connected through us and with our German Friends Association. He and they have waited patiently for years for the project to develop.

I want also to thank Anne Le Meignen for her contribution, to Fr. Rene and Fr. Paul for joining us, to thank our Friends Associations, Villagers, admin members and public relations department. Thanks also to Hisham and Neriya of our 2nd generation for being here. I hope that they and the younger people will put their efforts into developing the Museum, Gallery & Archive too.

This is a museum that will never be closed. It will be a living museum, where things will constantly change. In its first year or so, only the gallery will be open. We will invite artists to come to display their work and open joint exhibitions with other artists. The artistic focus will be mainly on cultural, social, and political themes.
Over time, people will visit the gallery from many places. Meanwhile, we will work to populate its walls, floor, drawers and other spaces with rich materials.

Dafna:

We have a very special long-term creative process here. Dyana has volunteered a great deal of her time. We want this to be a safe space for people to come and bring their creativity. We would like to add that this evening we will get a taste of this year’s 3-decade celebration of the school’s existence. Ety Edlund, who co-founded the primary school, has prepared a slide-show presentation for us.

Ety:

On the 1st of September, this year, as I brought my grandchild for the first day of school, I remembered how 30 years ago I had come with my own children to their first day of school – to the first Arab-Jewish school in Israel. I awoke the next morning and thought that I must make an exhibition for the occasion. I said that I would create an exhibit on the history of the school. Then I thought that since the Friends Associations were coming this could be a great opportunity.

Dyana and Dafna gave their support to the idea. And when I asked in the village if someone would like to join me, many agreed. Then Vered told me that perhaps the children of the Nadi would be able to help.

Vered: Yes, I thought it would be very exciting. We are doing a lot of work together at the Nadi. I considered how to involve the children and we thought about making a little video film, where they could say what they like about the school.

Ety: So far, I have put together this slide presentation...

Ety presented the slide presentation, which, besides a selection of photos from all periods of the school, included also textual information on the goals, objectives and history of the school.

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