Library > News > Newsletter > 2015 > January 2015 > "Between Two Halves of the Orange": Conversations with Arab Cultural Figures in Israel

"Between Two Halves of the Orange": Conversations with Arab Cultural Figures in Israel

The National Library recently hosted a first-of-its-kind Arab cultural series, "Between Two Halves of the Orange: Conversations with Arab Cultural Figures in Israel". The series was designed to bring members of Israel's Arab communities to the Library and to enhance understanding of contemporary Arab culture for all Israelis.

 

 Conversation with the actors of the series "Avoda Aravit"


Four evenings framed the series, each devoted to highlighting the work of leading Arab cultural figures from different art forms: literature, theater, television and music. Each evening included an interactive dialogue between prominent Israeli television presenter Kobi Medan and two selected artists, and incorporated readings, television clips, theatrical monologues and musical performances. In addition, the Library presented themed exhibitions from its special collections, such as "Ten Arab Writers from Khalil Baydas to Samih al-Qasim"; "The Development of Arab Theater in Israel"; "Popular Entertainment in Arabic before TV and YouTube"; and "A Window into the Jerusalem Music Scene of the Mandate Period".

Despite the politically complex environment in Jerusalem, the series attracted a broad and diverse audience – geographically (from Jerusalem to Nazareth); age-wise (from high school students to pensioners) and ethnically, from both Jewish and Arab communities – with over 500 attendees.  The series drew significant Arabic media coverage both prior to the series beginning and after each program. It was also advertised in the Hebrew media and was featured in Israel's Hebrew and English press. Numerous audience members attested to the quality of the programs, expressing their appreciation for the unique opportunity to hear Arab artists speak about their work, their artistic development and the challenges of being an Arab artist in Israel.
 
 Actress Salwa Nakkara

 


The series is one part of the National Library’s ongoing efforts to open the Library’s resources to all parts of Israeli society and to highlight the cultural contributions of different communities. The positive response from both participants and audience members confirms the growing importance of the National Library as a leading public cultural space in Israel.

 

 Kobi Meidan (l) in conversation with author Salman Natour (c) and scholar Dr. Samir Hajj