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03.11.2018, Jamal Tuschick

Reconnecting the Middle East in Berlin - Mati Shemoelof and Hila Amit Abas, the initiators of this event, are two Arab-Jews who were born in Israel but moved to Berlin. They write in Hebrew, which is the language they grew up with, but not necessarily their mother-tongue or the native language of their parents. As Jews from Arab and African origins they were required to leave their “Arab” parts of their heritage behind in order to be part of the Israeli melting pot. More than 100 years ago in the Middle East, Jews and Arabs and other ethnic/religious groups lived in a fruitful dialogue and were mentally, culturally, spiritually and physically connected. After the disappearance of the Ottoman Empire, the two World Wars and the consequential rise of Jewish and Arab nationalism, Jews and Arabs became disconnected. We lost our dialogue. In the event “Reconnecting the Middle East in Berlin” we will not only revive this lost dialogue through literature, music and performance. We will also talk about this loss, what was lost for our families, the tales that will stop with the generation of our grandparents. Writers from all over the Middle East and Asia, both, Israelis emigrating from Islamic countries, Iran and North Africa, and Arab Immigrants from the same countries will sit and read their works of poetry and fiction together. Berlin gives us, Jews and Arabs, a rare moment for a lost encounter that can no longer happen in the countries of our origin. Living together in exile in Europe, we will transcend and rise above our national identities and hope to create a new typography of words to redefine our mutual existence. Performers: Mariam Rasheed (Egypt), Abdulkadir Musa (Kurdistan), Mati Shemoelof (Syria, Iran and Iraq), Hila Amit Abas (Syria and Iran), Zehava Khalfa (Libiya), Hassan Abul Fadl (Syria) + Mevan Younes (Kurish) - (Buzuqi) as Part of the Berliner Oriental ensemble.

My silence is so big it could eclipse the entire universe - Mariam Rasheed

Mariam Rasheed

So … is the word most people use when trying to break an awkward silence. Fuck you is the term most people use when trying to break my awkward silence. Or when they give up on trying to break my silence. I’m not sure. They say the shortest distance between two people is a story. Well the longest distance between two people is my silence. My silence is so big it could eclipse the entire universe. My silence is so big it could fill all emotional voids of the 7 billion living humans on earth right now and then some. It’s like a hole, the more you take away from it, the bigger it gets! My silence is when I talk about feminism it agitates you, but when a man does, it totally makes sense!!!! Right…? My silence is I speak in question marks, commas, riddles, because uncertainty is a sign of weakness, and BuzzFeed said men find strong women intimidating… My silence is the reason I watched too many people slip away through the cages our fingers built after intertwining ever so perfectly. It’s the reason I watched too many parts of me being ripped away by every person I ever got attached to but eventually lost. Sometimes I wish I could blame my silence on someone else. Wish I could say it’s the result of growing up between men who felt emasculated when they had to say no, felt emasculated when they heard me say no. Men who felt empowered when they heard a girl say yes or sorry. I’m sorry… I’m sorry I didn’t speak up when I watched words tumbling down my mother’s mouth heavily scented with my father’s opinion. I’m sorry I didn’t speak up when a man pushed me to a wall, grabbed me by my waist and wrapped his hands around me. I’m sorry for every time I felt the word no pushing against my skin, rushing through my veins, trying to escape, but only ever letting it out as a tear, a sweat, a trembling hand, a jiggling leg, a shaking heart, a lost voice. I spent hours trying to push the blame on someone else and if I said I was able to pin it on my father or on this idea of the sweet obedient oriental girl that he bestowed upon me as a child, does that mean I’m lying to myself? And if I am… then who do I owe my apology to? I spent hours trying to push the blame on someone else until I mastered the art of insomnia. And insomnia… insomnia is the ugliest form of self-pity, it’s lying on your bed wondering what you could have or should have said. No actually insomnia is the prettiest form of self-pity, it’s thoughts louder than the flickering of neon tubes on subway stations, louder than the sirens of a police car on a quiet night. Insomnia is a bunch of words begging to escape this emergency exit of a mouth.

Insomnia is these words finally finding their way out.

Mariam Rasheed is an Egyptian painter who lived until 2015 in Egypt. She move to Berlin to study. She began using spoken word poetry 2016 as another creative expressive outlet other than painting.

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