Rafeef Ziadah: from Palestine to Ireland

I am very touched to have been invited to tour Ireland during Nakba commemorations and the 1916 Easter Rising centenary, to launch my spoken word album, We Teach Life

This month Palestinians around the world mark 68 years of exile and dispossession – what we call Al Nakba, the word for catastrophe in Arabic, when hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were forced to flee our homes in small boats or walk for miles with little belongings to become the world’s largest refugee population.

I am very touched to have been invited to tour Ireland during Nakba commemorations and the centenary of the 1916 Easter Rising, to launch my new spoken word album We Teach Life. The album is a collection of spoken word poetry with original music compositions on topics ranging from the current refugee crisis to war, exile and racism, which I will bring to the stage with Australian-Lebanese musician and guitarist, Phil Monsour.

Every poem on this album is a true story based on conversations I have had with Palestinians and refugees in many different parts of the world. I hope each story connects with and touches people here in some way beyond the media headlines and news statistics.

As I join the Afri Famine walk this Saturday I honour those who walked those steps to Louisburgh in Co Mayo, just as I do my own grandparents who were forced out of Palestine in 1948 when the state of Israel was created. With me on the walk will be the courageous Cathryn O’Reilly, who was a leading member of the Dunnes Stores strikers who were suspended by management for refusing to handle the “fruits of apartheid” in 1984 during the anti-South African apartheid era.

As the Palestinian-led movement for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel’s regime of oppression gains ground around the world, we are inspired by the historic example of the workers at Dunnes Stores and hope to see such grassroots acts of solidarity supporting the Palestinian struggle for freedom, justice and equality.

BDS upholds the simple principle that Palestinians are entitled to the same rights as the rest of humanity. It aims to end international support for Israel’s regime of apartheid and settler colonialism that began with the Nakba. It is no coincidence that the word boycott was coined in Ireland and continues to be a powerful tool of action for all oppressed. As I join the Lord Mayor of Dublin to plant an olive-and-ash SolidariTree in Poppintree Park this Thursday, we also mark the strong solidarity the Irish people have shown Palestinians and hope to inspire more action towards ending Israel’s impunity.

During the week I and Phil Monsour will be performing at the Hawkswell Theatre in Sligo (May 20th) and Belltable Theatre in Limerick (May 21st) and finally at the Abbey Theatre in Dublin (May 22nd). All details at weteachlife.com