On the last day of July, Sabreen, the first Palestinian music studio, closed the doors of its headquarters in Jerusalem’s Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood. Originally a music group, Sabreen expanded into a music development association in 1987.
Focusing on music and community projects, Sabreen has been an institutional home for many Palestinian artists. From recording albums to youth music projects, he has been a crucial player in the Palestinian art scene. Yet after years of financial struggle and deliberate policies by the Israeli regime to stifle Palestinian cultural institutions in Jerusalem, Sabreen will no longer be able to operate from her original home.
“The association is closed due to various debts, which affects many cultural institutions in Jerusalem. The cost of running in Jerusalem is incredibly high…and the problem is that funding rarely covers these basic running costs…Currently we have lost our headquarters and are now trying to keep the association going, but it will be difficult” , said Murad, one of the founders of the group and association, told me.
This comes against the backdrop of the Israeli regime working constantly to separate Jerusalem from the Palestinians, their identity and their national consciousness since the Nakba in 1948. Almost two decades later, the entire city has been brought under the control of the regime. Israeli forces in what is commonly referred to as the Six Day War of 1967.
Those Palestinians who remained in the city were granted “permanent resident” status rather than citizenship by the Israeli government, leaving them stateless. This allowed the Israeli regime to deny them all their rights, including the right to vote, while forcing them to pay crippling taxes and other municipal fees.
Urban planning has also been a key mechanism by which Israeli authorities have erased Palestinians from Jerusalem, particularly in their explicit efforts to maintain a Jewish majority population in the city.
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