Palfest 2011 closing session in Silwan — a night to remember

Last year, the Palestinian Literary Festival (PalFest) scheduled their opening and closing sessions in East Jerusalem’s Hakawati Theater near the closed-down Orient House, almost next to the American Colony Hotel — and both were shut down by Israeli Police on orders from the Ministry of Interior.

The Israeli explanation at the time was that security sources believed PalFest was somehow working with the Palestinian Authority — which Israel bans from activity in Jerusalem.

PalFest denied this, but the events were raided — and the 2010 opening event was hastily moved to the French Cultural Center in East Jerusalem, while the closing event was held in the garden of the (prepared) British Consulate.

This year, the PalFest 2011 closing session was scheduled — and was held — in Silwan, the hottest of the East Jerusalem hotspots, where there are daily confrontations between residents (some of whom are living with the threat of possible imminent eviction from their homes) and Israeli settlers, some of whom are living there, guarded by Israeli security forces, and some of whom are excavating under the Palestinian homes, trying to build a City of David archeological/touristic complex.

And, it was business as usual in Silwan: heavy Israeli Border Police presence, clashes, stones, (1) molotov cocktail, tear gas, rubber bullets… and in the midst, after regaining their composure, internationals were reading poetry, and DAM (Israeli-Palestinian rap or hip-hop group formed in Lod) performed, on a spring night in the Silwan protest tent.

UPDATE: A video of the PalFest participants arriving in Silwan for the closing event has now been posted by PalFest on Youtube {showing, among others, Ahdaf Souef, Munther Fahmi of the American Colony Bookshop, a bit of DAM’s performance, and Silwan’s Fakhri Abu Diab}:

[According to Wikileaks, here: “In 2004 DAM released a single called ‘Born Here’ in Arabic and Hebrew. The song was released with a videoclip directed by Juliano Mer Khamis”…]

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No Police intervention in Jerusalem at this year's "PalFest" literary festival

Did anyone else notice that there was no intervention by Israeli Police and Border Police to try to close down this year’s PalFest events in Jerusalem?

Last year, the opening and closing sessions were scheduled to be held in East Jerusalem’s Hakawati national theater, not far from the American Colony Hotel. But both sessions were raided — and the opening session was moved to the French Cultural Center on Salah ed-Dine Streeet (the Fifth Avenue or Champs Elysees of East Jerusalem), while the closing session was transported to the nearby British Consulate…

See our earlier posts, on the events in May 2009 here and here and here.

This year, the Jerusalem session was held in the Hakawati theater without interruption or incident.