Gabi Baramki’s book Peaceful Resistance: Building a Palestinian University under Occupation was published by Pluto Press in 2010. This extract (from pages 157–160) refers to the Choir of London’s 2004 visit to the Palestinian Territories.

Music is one of the things which helped me cope with the occupation. I was one of the founding members of the community choir known as the Jerusalem Chorus, back in 1955. The Chorus brings together local people, university staff, students and residents from the international community, all with a love for music….

It is a wonderful choir. At first, its only members were Christians, but then they were joined by Muslims who liked to sing, and by international residents. The choir’s conductor, Salwa Tabri, was so committed to the choir that she continued in her task even from a wheelchair when she developed multiple sclerosis. She would say that the choir kept her alive. Until 1995, we would arrange exchange visits with choirs abroad.

Being members of the choir has enriched our lives. Once, the Choir of London agreed to an exchange visit with us. We were far less professional than they were, but the members of our choir were inspired to do their very best. The music raised our spirits as well as erasing the borders hemming us in from all sides. Rita Giacaman, a Birzeit public health professor, described the collaboration with the Choir of London as one of the most uplifting in her life: “We were only amateurs, not full-time singers like some of our visitors. Still, we really flew that night,” she said. “Afterwards, none of us could sleep.”


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Peaceful Resistance: Building a Palestinian University Under Occupation (extract)