al quds capital of arab culture needs to join the boycott NOW!

bokra begins the celebration of al quds as a capital of arab culture. last year it was damascus. i have mixed feelings about these festivals because whether it is damascus or al quds how many arabs are prevented from traveling to participate if they had the money and wanted to go? i was not sure when all of this was beginning, but i saw this in ma’an news yesterday (someone also needs to tell ma’an news that mahmoud abbas is not president any longer!):

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will officially launch a yearlong celebration of Jerusalem as Capital of Arab Culture for 2009 at a ceremony in the West Bank city of Bethlehem on Saturday.

Simultaneous ceremonies will also take place in Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Gaza, Nazareth (a Palestinian city inside Israel), and Mar Ilias Refugee Camp in Lebanon. The simultaneous celebrations are an attempt to build a cultural bridge between Palestinian communities in Palestine and in the Diaspora.

The Al-Quds Capital of Arab Culture festival has faced an uphill battle organizing events in Israeli-occupied Jerusalem. The Israeli-controlled Municipality has not granted any permits for events to take place there.

so, of course, i went to their website to see what was going on because i knew i’d be in ramallah and i thought i would see if any activities were going on nearby. all i found on all the calendar thus far is going on in paris, not palestine. but what was really shocking was that the organizers of this conference–on culture–are clearly not interested in the boycott campaign as they have decided that israeli terrorist cinema–and here i mean this quite literally: the cinema created by an israeli terrorist who participated int he mass murder of palestinians in shatila refugee camp and the surrounding neighborhood–counts as al quds culture. here is an screen shot from their website (or you can click the link to see it):


what i want to know is this: why is it that they are ignoring a cultural boycott and acting like israeli terrorist even have a culture (or if they do, of course, it is stolen like everything else there)? this is about arab culture not the colonists’ so-called culture. note to organizers: wake up and join the boycott. for those who don’t understand why this is the film of a terrorist you may read about it here (two different reviews):

in arabic: رقصة الموت: «فالس مع بشير» والعطف على القاتل

in english: Film review: “Waltz with Bashir”

and for those who need a reminder of why boycott is a necessary form of resistance, here is what israeli terrorists did today with their terrorist soldiers in relation to the al quds festival:

Al-Quds Capital of Arab Culture 2009 planners have no intention to change scheduled events in light of an Israeli police decision to shut down the cultural festival.

Additional police and border guards will be deployed with the task of blocking celebrations of Jerusalem (Al-Quds in Arabic) and Palestinian culture. Police say the festival is illegal because it is sponsored by the Palestinian Authority (PA). Israel banned all PA activity in the city in 2000.

The threats have not changed plans for the event, however. “People are going ahead,” said Najwa Silwadi, Director of the Community Action Center, a Jerusalem community support and legal rights expertise hub for Jerusalemites.

Silwadi explained that organizers were prepared to deal with the realities of Jerusalem, including the refusal for permits to hold large events celebrating Palestinian culture. She noted that small-scale community-based events will be hosted by dozens of community centers like hers in the Old City.

One of the activities planned is a series of traditional childrens’ games, run by dozens of volunteers, set to take place at Damascus Gate – the main entrance to the Old City – on the afternoon of the opening day.

“These are children playing games,” Silwadi said, “What are the police going to do?”

Israeli police spokesperson Mickey Rosenfeld, however, noted that “All Palestinian activity [sic] inside Jerusalem is illegal… [and] the cultural festival won’t take place as far as the courts and police are concerned.” He said that police would be deployed in the early hours of Saturday.

Commenting on the decision to stifle the cultural events, member of the planning committee Mohammed Edwan said, “the program will be a public, artistic, cultural and peaceful; it will not be an occasion to link arms and throw stones.” He called the events planned for Jerusalem an “expression of our simple happiness in our ability to honor our traditions.”

On Thursday night police stormed Jerusalem’s Christmas Hotel where organizers were discussing plans for the festival, which is scheduled to begin on Saturday. Police seized a laptop, documents, and the ID cards of the planners.

Because the festival is banned in the city it is meant to honor, the official launch event is planned to take place in Bethlehem, ten kilometers to the south, behind Israel’s concrete wall and within the PA’s jurisdiction.

Israel occupied East Jerusalem in 1967 and later annexed the area as part of its “eternal undivided capital.” Palestinians still regard the city as their capital and the international community does not recognize Israeli control over the area.

A spokesperson for the Israeli-controlled Jerusalem municipality said that police in Israel are controlled by the federal government, and that it was not the municipality’s decision to ban the festival.

need i say more?


4 thoughts on “al quds capital of arab culture needs to join the boycott NOW!

  1. this is terrible. you know, this hurts more than all the zionist prop i see here. i mean, are we ignoring our our own call for boycott or what?

    this is somewhat unrelated but this reminds me of something you mentioned in one of your earlier posts- about how one of your students dreamed of removing of checkpoints only. its actually kinda scary to think we’ve stooped so low- but i just don’t understand why? is this all from the crappy pa education system? this is something that should be crystal clear- but it seems to be totally lost on some (i don’t know how many- is it a lot?) palestinians living there…

    1. such a big question you ask me and it is actually a blog post i’m working on now that i will post in the morning sometime. but it is not just the education system here that teaches students nothing about the right to liberate their land nor the history of palestinians doing this from the initial strikes against the british-zionist occupation to the palestinian resistance movement in the early 1960s to the first intifada, which none of my students are old enough to have lived through. i think it has a lot to do with the bantustanization of the west bank. the fact that palestinians are imprisoned within these bantustans and don’t know each other outside of their area. the fact that refugees and palestinians in cities and villages are separated from each other. and the fact that they want to remove these barriers, these separations and they see the checkpoints as a means of doing that. it is not just my students, by the way. when tony blair came here last spring or summer (by here i mean to nablus), all of the political leaders from all the factions and civil society got together and decided to speak in one voice: they decided that they wanted to ask him to work to remove the 17 checkpoints surrounding nablus.

      what is amazing to me is that palestinians can be unified on this issue of checkpoints, but not on liberating their land. i mean: what palestinian can argue with the goal of liberating all of palestine? we watch these leaders day in and day out arguing over these unity talks in cairo. what the fuck are they discussing? either you are for liberating the land or not. there really shouldn’t be anything else to discuss as far as i am concerned.

  2. exactly- there so much to be united on. but its worrisome, b/c if everyone in the west bank (or at least nablus) thinks only in terms of their hometown, and nothing else, well then they could easily walk away from it all. its strange, b/c even though they are living on the land, its like they are not connected to it- i mean whats to say they won’t leave if they given the chance? maybe its not my place to say, since i don’t live there and have never lived in a war zone/occupation, but is too much to ask that folks over there be more nationalistic (for lack of a better word) or more educated about their own history?

    1. i could write a book about the barriers to education, the lack of access, and unfortunately, the lack of desire. just as we had jeel an nakba, jeel al thawra, jeel al intifada, i feel that jeel al oslo is in a phase that brings everything down to its lowest. the problem is: studying jeel al thawra, for instance, is just the thing to snap people out of this, i feel. the barriers to making that a priority, however, are so steep…

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