Monday, May 25, 2009

Culture of Power attacks Power of Culture, in Jerusalem

ARMED Israeli Border Police invaded a Palestinian theatre in Jerusalem on Saturday evening, just as an internationally-supported literary festival was about to open, and ordered it to close.

A squad of a dozen or so police walked into the Palestine National Theatre in East Jerusalem. They brought with them a letter from the Israeli Ministry of Internal Security which said the festival could not be allowed, because it was supported by the Palestine National Authority.

The week-long festival is being supported by the British Council and UNESCO, and has attracted leading authors from abroad – including Henning Mankell, Michael Palin and Ahdaf Soueif – to do a speaking tour of Jerusalem and the West Bank. Saturday night's opening session was to feature a panel of authors from Britain, Australia, South Africa and Canada.

The ordered the audience and eight speakers - from to leave, but the event was held several minutes later, on a smaller scale, in the garden of the nearby French Cultural Centre. It was interrupted by poweer cuts and police sirens. Israeli police were deployed on the street outside, with five vehicles.

"We're so taken aback. It's completely, completely independent," said Egyptian novelist Soueif, who is chairing the Festival. "I think it's very telling," she told the crowd at the French centre. "Our motto, which is taken from the late Edward Said, is to pit the power of culture against the culture of power."

The French consul attended the event, as did Rafiq Al-Husseini, from the Palestinian president's office. Al-Husseini condemned the Israeli actions, but praised France for stepping up to host the event, viewing it as empowering Palestinian demands for reopening offices in the capital. This year was declared Jerusalem, Al Quds -Capital of Arab Culture year by UNESCO, but events have faced frequent harassment.

Video of the festival team arriving, held up at Allenby Bridge, and starting tour:

Israel has unilaterally annexed East Jerusalem and its environs, and Prime Minister Benyam Netanyahu insists there is no way it would share the city with the Palestinians as part of a peace deal. The Zionist state's apologists like to say Jerusalem shall not be "divided again"; but as Saturday night's police action should remind us, it remains bitterly divided - between occupiers and occupied - and the Israeli authorities are doing everything to deny Palestinian rights in the city.

In Edinburgh a group of protesters were accused of "racism" for interrupting an Israeli dance event as part of the boycott. But the organisers of the film festival have acknowledged they made a mistake accepting money from the Israeli government.
I'm not a great fan of cultural boycotts myself. They can often misfire and hit the wrong people. But for harassment and intimidation, a few students dishing out leaflets can hardly compare with an Israeli army roadblock, or armed police raiding a theatre to close a literary festival. Perhaps all those people who jealously guard what they call "cultural freedom", against boycotters, will raise their voices over this Israeli action?

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At 1:43 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

SATURDAY 20TH JUNE, 11 am - 6 pm at Ruskin College, Walton Street, Oxford

Supporters of the event include Oxford & District TUC & local IWW

Books, talks, badges, workshops, posters, postcards, DVDs, CDs, music, culture, short films, magazines, lectures, warm atmosphere, fellowship, meet new people, education, entertainment, magazine, newspapers etc. To book a stall/more info. email us!

Includes 100th Anniversary of 1909 RUSKIN COLLEGE STRIKE meeting, the first radical student uprising in English history that saw students breakaway to form radical & anti-capitalist educational networks such as the PLEBS LEAGUE and CENTRAL LABOUR COLLEGES + Talks/workshops on anti-fascism & anti-racism, situationism/dada/surrealism, anti-capitalism, people’s history, trade unions, war, peace & empire, radical bookselling, bash the rich marches, psychogeography, feminism & women’s equality, social ecology, popular & radical education, poetry/culture/art, music etc

Speakers include -

COLIN WAUGH Radical educator/FE teacher, active on the Post 16 Educator journal, recently author of pamphlet on the 1909 Ruskin College Student Strike & Plebs League
IAN BONE English anarchist associated with Class War group. In 1984 he was labelled ‘the most dangerous man in Britain’ by a British tabloid newspaper & was involved in the legendary Bash the Rich marches on wealthier areas of England such as Kensington, Henley-on-Thames & Hampstead.
RICHARD SEYMOUR Author of ‘The Liberal Defense of Murder’, a searing critique of the B52 liberals and pro-war left & the brains behind Lenin’s Tomb, one of the best-known political blogs in Britain, listed in 2005 as the 21st-most-popular blog in the country.
ANDREW BURGIN Radical seller/collektor of books, badges, posters, pamphlets & other emphemera. As press officer for the Stop the War Coalition he has worked particularly closely with the Military Families against the War campaign. He has also been linked to the Public Reading Rooms in London . . .
JUDITH ORR Author of ‘A Rebel’s Guide to Women’s Liberation’
MALCOLM HOPKINS Our man from Housemans, London Town’s oldest radical bookshop who boast the largest range of radical newsletters, newspapers and mags of any shop in Brtain! He also does talks on situationism, dada, and surrealism - top bloke!
Cllr JOHN TANNER Lefty Labour Councillor supports good causes like the Palestinians and anti-fascism - top bloke!
DAVID RENTON Independent writer & historian. Written extensively on the history of anti-fascism including ‘When We Touched the Sky’ a history of the Anti-Nazi League & ‘Red Shirts & Black’ (Published by Ruskin College Library) the story of how the facist Blackshirts were driven out of Oxford in the 1930s.
CIARAN WALSH IWW/Wobblie Member involved in Traveller education. ‘The IWW is a union unlike any other. It is a grassroots, democratic and militant union that seeks to organise ALL workers in ALL industries in ALL countries’ … Sounds like a good idea!
PETER DWYER has done many silly and good things including working with NGOs and the labour movement in South Africa and speaking at World Social Forums in Rio, Mali and Kenya. During the daytime he teaches radical economics at Ruskin College
GUY DEBORD Sadly Monsieur Debord can’t make this festival, but we have received a copy of The Society of the Spectacle - The Movie that will receive a free screening and Ruskin College premier during the course of the bookfair
LUCY PARSONS once described by the Chicago police as ‘more dangerous than a thousand rioters’, Parsons died in 1942, she will be brought back to life for one day during the bookfair with a public reading of her infamous address To Tramps


For more info. - or

At 9:55 PM, Blogger Renegade Eye said...

I was opposed to the boycott of the Bat Dor Dance Dance Company, as well as Israel's actions. Israel's actions make the protest against the modern dance boycott hypocrisy.


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