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Breaking: Palestinian music school is bombed to rubble

The photograph that you see below has been sent to Slipped Disc by Neil van der Linden,  a Dutch colleague who helped organise a music school in, or very close to, these premises six years ago. The building collapsed after repeated shelling. An entire Palestinian  family is believed to be trapped beneath the rubble.

This tragedy is not taking place in Gaza. The building is in the Yarmuk refugee camp on the outskirts of Damascus. The camp has been the target of bombing by Assad forces for many months. Many children have died. The world stays silent. Here is a remembrance of the music school.

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  1. Neil van der Linden says:

    Dear Norman,

    Maybe I have created some confusion. As far as I know, it is not the school itself that was hit, but a location nearby in the camp was hit. The pictures are from a time when the future looked brighter. And the music and the musicians made it sound brighter too.


    • Dear Neil
      Your original email identified it as the music school. I have now modified the text to clarify that it appears to be at or near the music school. In any event, it is a shocking image from a vicious war that receives very little coverage in other media, and none at all from the Palestinian movement.
      best wishes

      • Perhaps they are too busy counting the dead and injured victims of Netanyahu’s cynical war crimes.

        • Dennis, curb your prejudices and face the facts. The militia allies of Hamas in Syria have killed tenfold the number of casualties in Gaza – and that’s a very conservative estimate, one that does not include the victims of the former Hamas backer, Assad.

          • It’s interesting when Israel attempts to hit back at those firing rockets indiscriminately at civilian targets in Israel it is labelled a ‘war crime’. I suppose firing rockets at civilians is not? And what about some condemnation about what Assad is doing to his own people?

          • Joseph Novak says:

            Thank you for this post, Mr. Lebrecht. How much is lost in the fight for power!

        • Or perhaps they only stress the cynically termed “unwarranted” response by the IDF to daily rockets on Israel?

      • I suppose you don’t watch Al Jazeera news – plenty of coverage about Syria.

  2. I hope that you and others will gain a fuller understanding of this war and its genesis. Syria is, or at least was, before the West tried to dismember it, the most secular/non-sectarian country in the Middle East, one that allowed all of its minorities to live in peace and without discrimination, albeit under an authoritarian government. Moreover, during the Iraq war, it took in almost one million refugees, many of whom stayed, received housing, medical care, and education for their children, while the U.S. who was responsible for the war and started it under false pretenses, took in several hundred. In 2010, or possibly earlier, Syria initiated a constitutional reform process, while at the same time NATO and the U.S. began to take clandestine measures to destabilize the country and overthrow the regime as part of a neocon plan developed years earlier to remake the Middle East, including replacing many different regimes, changing borders of countries, and taking control of energy resources. We’ve all read about it with Iraq, but it involved seven or more countries, including Iran, Libya, Syria, Sudan, Lebanon, etc. Just as with NATO’s action in Yugoslavia, the media were also enlisted to engage in a propaganda war. So, massacres in Homs, Houlas and Hama were pinned on the Assad government, even though later they were shown (e.g. by German journalists, and intelligence analysts- such as a number of former CIA officials who have been much more honest about it) to have been caused by special ops groups and contractors provided and funded by the U.S. and NATO (and by some of Syria’s neighbors, such as Jordan and Turkey) with the operation coordinated out of Incirlik and other NATO bases in Turkey.) Furthermore, it should be noted that the U.S. Ambassador to Syria in 2010 and 2011 was Robert Ford who was actively stirring up opposition to the Syrian government. His history is a dark one, having served directly under John Negroponte in Iraq during the U.S. counter insurgency operations where special ops were sent in in a reign of terror to slaughter not only resistance fighters but also civilian suspects. Now, as you can see, the whole process has spiraled out of control with Al Qaeda and other extremists creating havoc. If you think the people of Syria don’t support their government, even with its heavy hand in policing, then why hasn’t the government fallen? The minorities in that country are getting clobbered by the “rebels” who have come primarily from outside the country. I can say without qualification that the Christian community is living in fear and many have left. Yet none of the mainstream media (the Frankfurt Allgemein, excepted) are interviewing or reporting the atrocities being committed against them. One must instead go to other sources, such as Voltairenet, and reports by those alluded to above. Moreover, with Western sanctions imposed on Syria, the Syrian people must now primarily depend on Russia, China and Iran to assist its relief efforts and provide supplies, (or on Christian and other NGO’s and church groups) and as we all know the West has also demonized those countries. We are living in an age of rampant plunder with all of these wars which we have provoked under the false pretense of fighting a nebulous “war on terror”- and no rule of law, international or otherwise has been able to restraining those with the power to ignore it. When it will all end is anyone’s guess, but right now the US, Britain, France, Germany, Turkey, the Saudis and GCC, and Israel all must bear responsibility for this. Too bad we can’t put it all to rest right now with the Beethoven Ninth.

  3. Wing-chi Chan says:

    As a arts and cultural man, I hereby voice, from man’s dignity, to form an international and independent investigation commission in preparing a facts-finding report that aims at for seeking a solution of peaceful settlement. It has been a big shame for the international arts and cultural community in keeping long silence in front of millions of innocent war victims, including children and women, over the past few decades in the Middle East. Butchers and terrorist should go out for a man to man fight. Only an impotent coward would use women and children to shield for his own physical existence in operating continued war crime.

    • Neil van der Linden says:

      Dear all,
      While I certainly have my points of view about what is going on in Syria and Gaza, what I had wanted to convey by sending the pictures of the music activiities of kids with some great Dutch musicians along with the picture of the current destruction in the Palestinian refugee camp to Norman and other friends is different. Although the pictures in their context have a political meaning as well, in the first place I wanted to show the contrast between young people trying to make life of their own, in this case through music, and the current havoc that came of the community in the camp and over so many other communities. But also that there still might be hope, as the pictures showed some very determined people, who indeed appeared to be able to shape their life, and who seemed intending to make the best of their chances.


  4. Time to get Daniel involved?

    • Neil van der Linden says:

      Daniel from the Lion’s Den (by the way Assad in Arabic means Lion) or Daniel Barenboim? By the way as the Damascus Conservatory was well established, Syria always provided quite a few members for the West-East Divan Orchestra.

    • No. Time for US and Israel governments to stop funding Muslim terrorists and mercenaries in Syria for the dirty aim of destabilizing a regime that is not a buddy of the above mentioned powers. All this disgusting global superiority agenda will one day backfire badly. There is no alternative to peaceful coexistence. Zionism is a dead end street, just like any form of dogmatic extremism.

      • Neil van der Linden says:

        Dear all,

        Although in other instances I have sometimes very outspoken opinions on what is going on in the Middle-East, I would also recommend to have a moment for what is on the pictures. Did the pictures of the kids represent a moment of hope? Is that hope dashed? And what can we do when the fighting ends, to restore such hope? On additional photo’s I sent to Norman one could see that the kids enjoying these events were over a hundred. And although the core was around a music school, that music school was part of a large regular school. And the activities of the kids playing music radiated on allt the other kids at school. It was a beginning of an El Sistema. I was not suggesting that we should stop thinking about politics or that the kids should only play music. But everything looked like it was going so well.


      • Why is a country trying to survive in the midst of neighbours who want its annihilation labelled ‘Zionism’? And I suppose that suicide bombings, indiscriminate rocket attacks, 9/11 etc, does not constitute extremism? Mr Reaist, you need to start thinking realistically.

        • We need to stop the black-and-white labeling and thinking and look for holistic solutions.
          We are all humans of ultimately the same tribe, aren’t we?

          Unfortunately the Zionist idea of settling in the Middle East was a bad one. I have no easy solution either. I only know that violence only results in more violence.

          • ‘Black and white thinking’ – if your comment wasn’t black and white thinking I don’t know what is!

  5. Dominy Clements says:

    Dear Readers,

    I don’t know if this is the same music school – but these are my friends and colleagues. The whole thing is extremely worrying.

    These are the words of one of the founders already posted on Facebook last Friday 16th November:

    “A missile just fell not very far from my house in Jerusalem. 5 years ago I moved here to teach music in Silwan. Facebook was just becoming popular.

    Now many children from Silwan are my friends on Facebook. They are all amazing, seriously. In the last few days they have been publishing on their profiles very sad images and texts, describing their anger, fear and sadness; they pray for the safety of other children in Gaza. Some of them call for revenge. Some of them continue to play farmville.

    Also children in Gaza and in Tel-Aviv and in Hebron and in Haifa and in Modi’in and in Jenin and in Ariel are amazing, seriously. They also post images and texts.

    And I see some of my adult friends on facebook write angry words of revenge, hatred and racism. And I came to the conclusion that we adults are not so amazing. We are the ones who talk hatred and fear, and we create wars and death; and the children, they look at us and learn.


    I think this sums up everything. Whatever our opinions or perceptions we owe it to future generations to be able to make up their own minds. None of this is worth the suffering of innocent people, and children especially.

  6. The world is only silent because the media and politicians would rather we all remained unaware… For me, I try not to take sides: but when each side says ‘the other started it, and must stop it first’, I just look at my 8-year-old in the school playground – even he is more mature than this, and recognises that THAT is NOT the way to stop a fight. When the fighting takes people’s lives, it is doubly sad that world leaders are unable to be as mature as 8 year olds.

  7. Norman, for what it’s worth, the US news media (or at least the parts that I follow – public radio and major news websites) has given plenty of coverage to the nasty conflict in Syria. That coverage was eclipsed for a while by the presidential election, but it’s coming back a bit now.

    As for the world remaining silent – I’m afraid the sad reality is that almost nothing the outside world might say would make any difference. The Assad regime is going to fight as fiercely, as brutally, as murderously as it thinks it needs to fight to stay in power – and they no doubt believe that if they lose, the victors will treat them as cruelly as they have treated Syria. (The Assads have probably also convinced themselves, rightly or wrongly, that Syria will undergo a massive communal civil war if they step down and go into exile. And that civil war is one in which the Assads’ own community, the Alawites, would be badly outnumbered.)

    I’m afraid that nothing could stop the current carnage in Syria but a full-scale military intervention by an outside power. And we saw how well that worked out in Iraq …

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