PA Disbands Youth Orchestra

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JENIN, West Bank - Officials in the Palestinian Authority- (PA) controlled city of Jenin disbanded a youth orchestra for performing before elderly Jewish Holocaust survivors.

Adnan Hindi, an official in Jenin, said the orchestra should not have performed for survivors because the Holocaust is "a political issue."

Hindi said Wafa Younis, 50, the conductor of the children's orchestra, has been barred from entering Jenin.

The 13-member Strings for Peace orchestra, made up of 11- to 18-year-old children from Jenin, performed a concert in Holon, a city on the outskirts of Tel Aviv.

The performance was part of Good Deeds Day, an annual event sponsored by an organization funded in part by Shari Arison, Israel's wealthiest citizen.

Neither the children nor the 30 elderly survivors who made up the audience knew much about one another prior to the concert, which was held at the Holocaust Survivors Center.

Ali Zeid, the orchestra's 18-year-old keyboard player, said he gained an understanding about the Holocaust for the first time in his life.

"I feel sympathy for them," Zeid said. "Only people who have been through suffering understand each other," he said, explaining that his grandparents fled the northern Israeli port city of Haifa in the 1948 War of Independence.

One 12-year-old girl said she had never heard about the Nazi genocide because in Jenin, many believe that the Holocaust never really happened.

For most of the children, it was their first exposure to Israelis, other than soldiers manning the checkpoints or entering the city in search of wanted terrorists. Many of the children remember the IDF's incursion into the city in April 2002.

During the height of the second intifada (armed Palestinian uprising), the IDF conducted a large counter-terror operation in PA-controlled cities, including Jenin, Nablus (biblical Shechem), Bethlehem and Ramallah.

The operation, called Defensive Shield, was launched to root out the terrorist infrastructure responsible for massive suicide bombings in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Netanya, which killed hundreds of Israeli citizens.

Source: The Associated Press

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