22  05  2009


PalFest in Jerusalem, beside the Israely police

The organisers of the PalFest meant to “confront the culture of power with the power of culture”. None but Jerusalem could be as prominent, so that’s where they decided to inaugurate and close the second edition of this touring literature festival, in the honour of Al-Quds 2009 (Jerusalem, capital of Arab culture). However, Israeli police forces closed the National Palestinian Theatre, that was due to host the inauguration on 23 May and the closure of the event on 28 May, just an hour before each of the two events. The first one finally took place at the French Cultural Centre and the second one at the British Council.

“Even an author or a musician can pose a threat to Israel’s security”, says ironically Rania Elias of Yabous productions, one of the co-organisers of this festival that gathered Palestinian and foreign writers for a tour around the West Bank (Ramallah, Jenin, Bethlehem and Hebron). “They fight anything Palestinians do in Jerusalem”.

The launch of Al Quds 2009 on last May had already been disquieting. This new Israeli intervention against a Palestinian cultural event in East Jerusalem occurred in a very particular context.

On the Arab side of town, conquered by Israel in 1967, the orders to demolish the Palestinian houses have abounded in the last months, whereas the authorisations to extend the Jewish settlements have multiplied. According to some observers, by these means the Jewish State hopes to encircle East Jerusalem with settlements and cut it off from the rest of the West Bank to avoid returning it as the future Palestinian capital. The annexation of East Jerusalem, contrary to international law, was ratified by the Knesset since 1980 with the adoption of the basic law that makes of Jerusalem the “complete and unified” capital of Israel. The law was judged “”null and void” by the UN Security Council in resolution 478, though this doesn’t prevent Israel from trying to create circumstances that will make any retrocession difficult, or even impossible.

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Marie Medina -