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A woman in dark hair and a green top stands at a podium in a dark club, where many people are silouetted in the background. Behind her is a screen where people with masks and Palestinian flags are marking

Oakland concert raises money for Palestinian Children’s Relief

on October 31, 2023

Bay Area artists performed Sunday evening for more than 500 people at the Continental Club in West Oakland to raise money to help children in Gaza. 

Organized by first-generation Palestinian American Janan Barance and artists AroMa and ASTU, the event raised over $13,000, all of which will be donated to the Palestinian Children’s Relief Fund, which provides free medical care to injured and ill children in the Middle East.

The event featured Palestinian and Arab artists, poets and performers who shared pieces based on personal experiences of oppression and activism. Attendees were encouraged to celebrate Palestinian community and culture, and to demand that the United States government initiate a ceasefire in the ongoing Israeli attacks on Gaza.  The event also featured altars mourning Palestinian deaths.

On Oct. 7, Hamas, a militant group that has governed the Gaza Strip since seizing control in 2007, attacked Israel, killing over 1,400 Israelis, according to the Israeli government, and taking more than 200 hostages. In response, Israel launched airstrikes in the weeks that followed. More than 8,000 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces, according to Gaza officials.

A Palestinian flag, red triangle turned sideways on the left, then a black, white and green stripe fille the rest, with a fist in the middle hangs above an altar that had a few candiles on it and photos.
Attendees gathered at an altar grieving Palestinian deaths ( by Meg Tanaka)

On Saturday afternoon, more than 15,000 protesters blocked lanes on Highway 101 in San Francisco, calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza. On Wednesday, students in colleges across the country held a walkout, including at UC Berkeley, to show solidarity with Palestinians.  

Barance said she wanted to provide a platform for people to express their feelings. 

“We don’t often have a safe space for grief and celebration, so I’m excited we could create that,” she said.

The event featured performances ranging from rap and psychedelic rock to drag.

One of the speakers and performers, drag queen Mama Ganuush, spoke on their experience as a Palestinian, and said they had lost family members to Israel’s bombings in Gaza, which have displaced more than 1 million people.

“I didn’t choose to be Palestinian,” Ganuush said. “It’s a part of my DNA, marked by over 70 years of trauma caused by Britain’s imperialism and Israel’s statehood. I consider this event an act of dignity and deeply appreciate your support and presence in our quest for justice.”

Hadeel Ramadan, who performed a poetry reading, said that as a child of Palestinian refugees, she appreciates the solidarity from various communities. 

“It’s amazing to see the Black and brown communities and the LGBTQ community coming together to show true solidarity,” she said.

Fen Chou, an Oakland resident who attended the event, was struck by the personal stories told through music and poetry. As someone with Vietnamese heritage, Chou said that poetry about the trauma of colonized people resonated. “The music was great, and it got people to show up,” Chou said.

Barance said the increase in global support for Palestinians has been overwhelmingly positive. “I hope for Palestinians to find freedom and peace, and a life that they deserve, because they’re beautiful people,” she said.

(Top photo: Organizer Janan Barance speaks to the crowd, by Meg Tanaka)

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