On the last day of July, Sabreen, the first Palestinian music studio, closed the doors to their headquarters in the Jerusalem neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah. Originally a music band, Sabreen expanded into an association for musical development in 1987.
Focusing on music and community-based projects, Sabreen has been an institutional home for many Palestinian artists. From recording albums to youth music projects, it has been a crucial actor in the Palestinian arts scene. Yet after years of financial struggle and deliberate Israeli regime policies designed to suffocate Palestinian cultural institutions in Jerusalem, Sabreen will no longer be able to operate from its original home.
“The association is being closed as a result of various debts, which is something that affects many cultural institutions in Jerusalem. The cost of operating in Jerusalem is incredibly high… and the problem is that funding rarely covers this core running costs…Currently we have lost our headquarters and we are now trying to keep the association going but it will be hard,” Said Murad, one of the founders of both the band and the association, told me.
This is happening within the context of the Israeli regime working consistently to sever Jerusalem from Palestinians and their identity and national consciousness since the Nakba in 1948. Nearly two decades later, the entire city was brought under Israeli regime control in what has commonly become known as the 1967 Six Day War.
Palestinians who remained in the city were given “permanent residency” status by the Israeli government rather than citizenship, leaving them effectively stateless. This has allowed the Israeli regime to deny them full rights, including the right to vote, while also forcing them to pay crippling taxes and other municipal fees.
Urban planning has also been a key mechanism through which Israeli authorities have erased Palestinians from Jerusalem, particularly in their explicit efforts to maintain a Jewish demographic majority in the city.