FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
The 2012 Palestine Festival of Literature
29th April 2012
The 5th Palestine Festival of Literature, PalFest 2012, is announced today. The Festival will take place in Gaza from May 5th to May 9th, with an event in Ramallah on May 5th and a reprise event in Cairo on May 11th.
It has been a longstanding aim of the festival to travel to Gaza. Since it started in 2008 PalFest has taken the form of a travelling festival – moving to audiences constrained and divided by Israel’s military occupation, establishing creative links between Palestine and the rest of the world and pitting the power of culture against the culture of power.
PalFest has tried several times in the past to reach Gaza from the Occupied Palestinian Territories but has never been able to because of the restrictions put in place by the Israeli Occupation. Gaza has been under siege and isolated from the rest of the world since 2007.
This May, PalFest 2012 will bring a group of writers, educators and artists through the Rafah crossing from Egypt to perform free public events, run workshops with students of varying ages and meet civil society leaders in Gaza.
PalFest has endorsed the 2004 Palestinian call for the academic and cultural boycott of Israel. PalFest 2012 stands against the siege of Gaza; it is committed to re-invigorating cultural ties between Arab countries, ties that have been eroded for too long. The Festival will be bringing writers and artists from across the Arab world and beyond.
PalFest Producer, Omar Robert Hamilton:
Justice for Palestine was among the most urgent demands of the Arab revolutions. In Egypt, Tahrir called for the Rafah crossing to be opened – yet the movement of people and goods remains severely restricted. PalFest has always worked to forge cultural ties and now, more than ever, regional and global partnerships must be used to place justice for Palestine at the centre of the growing global struggle for justice.
PalFest has officially applied to Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs for travel permits into Gaza. Sunday 29th April was the date we were scheduled to have a response, but there has been none yet.
PalFest is a civil society initiative and its principal partner in Gaza is Dr. Haidar Eid, Professor of Post-Colonial and Post-Modern Literature at al-Aqsa University, and a Founding Member of PACBI, the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel.
Haidar Eid, PACBI:
For the first time, PalFest will conduct activities in besieged Gaza, where Palestinians continue to resist Israel’s illegal blockade which has transformed the occupied Gaza Strip into the world’s largest prison camp. PalFest is a sign of the growing solidarity across borders in our struggle against racism and oppression. Intellectuals and writers played a key role in ending Apartheid in South Africa; likewise, Arab cultural figures are visiting Gaza this year to show solidarity with Palestinian academics and artists in support for their call to increase the global BDS campaign against apartheid Israel.
On behalf of the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI), we deeply appreciate the Arab writers’ principled and consistent support for the Palestinian civil struggle for justice and peace in Palestine.
While the Festival’s primary activities will be taking place in Gaza, PalFest works to retain its active presence in the West Bank. British authors Rachel Holmes and Bee Rowlatt will lead extended creative writing workshops in Birzeit with the Palestine Writing Workshop. They will also be joining Maya Abu el-Hayat, Abd al-Rahim al-Sheikh and Imad Sayrafi on stage at the Sakakini Centre on May 5th. A one-day children’s literature festival will be held during the Festival, with plans for a larger children’s event in the summer.
Beyond the Festival dates PalFest continues its educational programme through its sister organization the Palestine Writing Workshop, whose activities include regular book clubs, creative writing classes and the creation and maintenance of a library.
PalFest will be launching a new, bi-lingual website this week. Developed with the support of the UK Arts Council, the site will be profiling new literary talent from across Palestine and the diaspora as well as developing an online space for critical feedback between young writers and more established authors.
The full list of artists attending PalFest 2012 is:
Ghada Abd el-Al
Alaa Abd el-Fattah
Alaa Abd el-Fattah
& the bands Eskenderella, Jafra and al Salam.
Birzeit & Ramallah
Maya Abu el-Hayat
Abd al-Rahim al-Sheikh
PalFest is supported by the Arts Council UK, the Abdalla Foundation, the British Council, the Open Society, the Qattan Foundation, Bloomsbury Qatar Foundation Publishing, Reach out to Asia and individual donors, Rana Sadik, Samer Younis, Fadi Ghandour, Riad Kamal, Zina Jardaneh, Mostafa Beidas, Suhail Sikhtian and Janwa Dajani.
PalFest Patrons are Chinua Achebe, John Berger, Seamus Heaney, Philip Pullman, Emma Thompson and the late Mahmoud Darwish and Harold Pinter.
PalFest Trustees are Suad Amiry, Alison Eliot, Nathalie Handal, John Horner, Brigid Keenan, Fiona McMorrough and Sheila Whitaker. Ahdaf Soueif is the Founding Chair.
PalFest Literary Advisor is Najwan Darwish.
PalFest’s partners in 2012 include PACBI, PSCABI, Riwaq, the Free Word Centre, the Khalil Sakakini Cultural Centre, the Palestine Writing Workshop and four Universities in Gaza: al Aqsa, al Azhar, the Islamic University of Gaza and Gaza University.
Fiona McMorrough and Kate Cooper at FMCM
0207 405 7422
Reema Fadda, Festival Organiser
+20 10 977 30446