“Muezzins calls for prayer and shooting sounds” by Lenna Utro-Shterenberg
Recorded on Nov. 18th, 2016 in north eastern Jerusalem, Israel.
“This soundtrack is a part of my artist work about my identity. I recorded it in a very special circumstances and I will describe them right now:
Many people here just hate Palestinians, no matter what, kind of blind hate. I hear speeches about those issues in the bus or bus station, in supermarket and often just on the streets. I feel myself involved against my will, just because I live here. Those overheard conversations are made me think again and again about my identity and about choosing my side. The reality is that you can have here only black or white possibility, you have to choose whom you with. Sometimes it even may be critical for your surviving here.
To be clear, I have no illusions about the situation with Palestinians, I believe they have plenty of reasons for hate Israeli Authorities, Israeli settlers who take their lands and Israeli army forces who have to preserve this situation with settlers. I really uncomfortable to live in atmosphere of racial chauvinism which I have experienced myself a lot. It makes me distressed to hear these things around me as I am descendant of World War two refugees, who lose everything, including all their relatives.
Muezzins sounds are coming from Shuafat Refugee camp, a very strange place: no Israeli and no Palestinian Authorities are rules there. It’s strange, because you will never recognize this place as a temporary living space. There is nothing temporary here: tall houses, piled on each other, sliding down the mountainside, these high-rise buildings, kind of human anthill, middle east human anthill… mosques, cars, roads and trails, the clothes which are hung on the roofs, and of course, children are playing firecrackers. Once I heard from my Arabian speaker’s acquaintances that it is a place of “strong families” which rules there. According of mass media data, Hamas organisation also have very strong presence in camp.
I can walk in the park, located on the top of a hill, just in front of the camp. This park is located in such a way, that the whole huge part of the camp on this side of the mountain is visible at a glance. Park is mostly looks like large bald head, and if Hamas sniper just wanted to, he could shoot me or any other person walking here. Maybe that’s why the park is mainly deserted, maybe people are just afraid, but I walk here and do not know, is somebody aim at me or not. I feel a kind of silent agreement, that is there is no shooting there, but who are these parties that keeping this place so.
I left Russia almost twenty years ago and never came back there for a visit. Our life there was too difficult and I cannot feel myself safe in that place called Russia. My father was a son of Romanian Jewish refugee parents, but now I’m not recognized as Jew by Israeli low. For some people it maybe sounds like not significant, but here in Israel nationality is very important issue, the key issue the appearance of the country in general has become possible whereby. It is clear that even if my mother mixed of Russian and Ukrainian, there in Russia I recognised as Jew. I even had suffered from anti-semitic speech and actions in the school. It’s sounds like a weird joke, but only in Israel I became “Russian”.
I have to say, racism here is not so different from Russian racism in Russia. It’s doesn’t matter who you are, you will feel it: Moroccans, Yemenites and Iraqi Jews against Russians and Ashkenazi’s, all the citizens against Sudan’s and Darfur’s refugees, Ethiopians against Eritrean refugees and against “Russians”, doesn’t matter if they are Jews or not, and Russians against all “african” (ethiopians) and “arabic” (Moroccan, Tunisian, Algerian, Yemenite, Iraq, Iran etc) jews. Furthermore, almost all those people all together is against Palestinians (Bingo! Finally they all has found one common global enemy which unit the Israeli people together). From the other hand, Palestinians is standing out against every Israeli and this situation will not change soon, if it will…
Since the Palestinian society also is not so homogeneous as it looks to those israeli’s who prefer not to think too much about “enemy’s nation”: muslim majority, christian minority, less or more religious, or just socialist atheists, and within this bundle you have a lot of small minority groups with different beliefs and convictions, which sometimes are absolutely opposite each other.
You feel constant fear and hate which is all in the air here. Off course, not everybody hate everybody, but, in general, this is the atmosphere. Nowadays the Hate is supported by right-wing government, when the dominant ideology occupies a dominant position in all levels of social and cultural life, often including their own mass media. Sometimes I feel that the “only democratia in whole Middle East” is democratic only for right-wing’s kippa wearing Jews.
Recently (in 2016), peoples of Jerusalem neighbourhood Pisgat Ze’ev I live in for two years, staged propaganda campaign against muezzin praying which seems them are too loud. Probably, those people have lot of influence here, so Knesset even started to write new low “to solve” this issue. Somebody even put huge banner in the entrance of Pisgat Ze’ev, which made me blush each time I pass on this by the bus. It was so stupid, because finally, religious orthodox Jews said that it is impossible low. If this low will be implemented, the sirens in the Shabbat (Friday) evening in the sunsets will also get illegal status! Moreover, the police believe that the new low will not be able to help to those residents Pisgat Ze’ev, which feel disturbed, because the Shuafat refugee camp is not under Israeli jurisdiction. According to my information, this campaign is not active yet, at least for now.
So, I was hurried to record thоsе sound, when I heard about this campaign, before its disappearance. I did it, because I feel they are organic part of neighbourhood view, but they also are rich of authenticity, very beautiful and unique for this place, and (maybe more important) they are paraphrase of the nowadays history.
Thank you for listening.”