Claiming that this year’s Palestinian literature festival, PalFest09, was somehow organized by the Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority (with which Israel has been engaged in peace negotiations), Israeli police and Border Police shut down the opening session at a theater in East Jerusalem at 6:30 on Saturday evening. The French Cultural Center then offered its premises, and the participants walked a couple of hundred meters in the direction of the Old City to start over again. In that new venue, the event apparently went off without a hitch.
A Youtube video, posted on the Ma’an News Agency website, captured the drama:
Ma’an News Agency reported that “Audience members crowded on the lawn outside the building [at the French Cultural Center] as book readings and discussions on the theme of displacement in world literature were interrupted by power cuts and police sirens. The spectators and litterateurs were greeted at the new event by five Israeli police vehicles stationed outside the garden wall. According to Ma’an’s Jerusalem correspondent the initial decision to close down the performance at the National Theater was made at the request of the Israeli Interior Ministry. The move mirrors efforts to quash celebrations of Jerusalem culture for the 2009 Capital of Culture events”. This report can be read in full here.