Last week a group of children musicians from the Jenin refugee camp, the Strings of Freedom, performed for a group of Holocaust survivors. It was all part of Good Deeds Day, an annual event run by Ruach Tova or the Good Spirit charity in Israel. The children from the camp did not know that they would be playing for Holocaust survivors. However, their conductor, Wafa Younis, did. As a result, officials in the Jenin refugee camp have decided to disband the orchestra.
I recall reading about this last week and having mixed feelings. I think it’s great that such an orchestra exists for the Palestinian youth in the Jenin refugee camp. However, I also think it’s wrong that the director, Younis, arranged to have the orchestra perform for this event without informing the youths and their parents what the event was. Adnan Hindi, an official from the camp, said that Younis “exploited the children” and I happen to agree with him. I think Younis should have discussed the nature of the event to the children and their parents prior to making any commitments. If the children were interested and agreed to perform, then great, she should’ve gone ahead with the plans. However, planning, organizing and committing the orchestra to perform for an event of which they knew nothing about was wrong.
The apartment where the children practiced has been boarded up and Younis has been barred from the camp. I can understand if camp officials want to take disciplinary action against Younis but I don’t think the orchestra should be disbanded. After all, the orchestra’s purpose is to help Palestinian children overcome trauma from war. Camp officials should look for another conductor to replace Younis and allow the orchestra to continue its work. It’s the Palestinian children who will suffer if the orchestra remains disbanded and that’s just wrong. The Strings of Freedom orchestra should continue its work to help the children of the Jenin refugee camp.