7 July 2018



Toynbee Studios
28 Commercial Street
E1 6AB
E boxoffice@artsadmin.co.uk

2.30-10pm. Free. Please note that this event is limited capacity so come early to avoid disappointment. 

A day of literature, music and Palestinian food at the Arts Bar and Café, inlcuding contributions from: Maan Abu Taleb, Diana Buttu, William Dalrymple, Kassem Eid, Omar Robert Hamilton, Rachel Holmes, Hannah Khalil, Kareem Samara, Kamila Shamsie, Ahdaf Soueif and William Sutcliffe.

In Palestine everything, even the past, is penetrated by occupation.

"You can see the stony terraces and the centuries that coaxed them into fruitfulness, the Israeli wall severing them from their farmers, and the settlement road cutting through the sky above them, its supports digging deep into their soil. Nothing, not a single thing, is free of the occupation, its instruments, its outcomes."
– Ahdaf Soueif

Since 2008, Soueif and her colleagues in PalFest, The Palestine Festival of Literature, have brought artists from outside Palestine to taste this bitter and complex experience, an experience evoked in 'This is not a Border' (2017). Breaking the cultural siege imposed by Israel, PalFest reaffirms, in Edward Said’s words, 'the power of culture over the culture of power' and strengthens Palestine’s cultural links with the rest of the world.

Artists for Palestine UK, launched in 2015, gives a platform to Palestinian voices, and campaigns against their silencing. There are many who would like art and culture to serve the project of occupation; APUK suggests a different role.

APUK and PalFest bring to London a day of music, literature and food, celebrating Palestinian culture and its long history. These are difficult times for Palestine, and the roads to freedom seem more cruelly blocked than ever. To enact hope, to demonstrate support, to explore modes of solidarity become urgent and necessary. Drinks from the Arts Bar & Café and food will be available on the day.


2.30pm, Doors open

3pm, Ten Years of PalFest: the Movie

3.15pm, Panel discussion: Palestine & London in 2018 (Ahdaf Soueif (MC), Diana Buttu & Rachel Holmes)

4.30pm, Coffee break

5pm, Writers Respond: Where is Palestine From Where We Are Standing?
(Maan Abu Taleb, William Dalrymple, Kassem Eid, Omar Robert Hamilton (MC), Kamila Shamsie, William Sutcliffe)

6:30pm, Break for food

8pm, Music from Kareem Samara

9pm, Music from Asifeh / Stormtrap

Please visit our Booking Information page for more information on our venue and our refund policy. You can let us know your access requirements ahead of time by emailing access@artsadmin.co.uk

About the contributors

Asifeh (also known as Stormtrap) is a Palestinian musician, rapper and producer who has lived between Vienna and Ramallah. Asifeh's music consists of rap vocals, sampled material and original compositions using modern and abandoned technologies. He is co-founder of the former Ramallah Underground collective, and he is 1/3 of the Aiwa Collective, who organize and perform regular hip hop events in Berlin. Asifeh has released two solo albums “Iradeh” (2012) and “Datura” (2017), and he regularly releases singles on his SoundCloud page, which includes collaborations with local and international artists such as Akhenaton, Well Gedacht, Toofless, Edd Abbas, Grup Ses, El Far3i, and many more.

Maan Abu Taleb is a novelist, essayist and cultural editor. His debut novel 'All the Battles', was released to critical and popular praise in 2016 and appeared in an accomplished English translation the following year. He is the editor of the influential music magazine Ma3azef and, most recently, published a powerful essay on Jerusalem, language and history with The White Review. 

Diana Buttu is a widely respected analyst, lawyer and writer. She is a former legal advisor to PLO Chairman Mahmoud Abbas and Palestinian negotiators, and Policy Advisor to Al-Shabaka: The Palestinian Policy Network. She writes and broadcasts extensively on Palestine, recently arguing in the New York Times that the Palestinian Authority should be dismantled. 

William Dalrymple is an acclaimed, best-selling historian who specialises in the history of India. He attended the very first Palestine Festival of Literature in 2008 - having travelled there before to research his 1997 travel book, 'From the Holy Mountain'. He is one of the co-founders of the Jaipur Literature Festival, which has grown to be one of the world's most important literary events - and has been known to showcase Palestinian literary talent. His latest book is a collaboration with Anita Anand on the history of the Koh-i-Noor diamond.

Kassem Eid is a writer and activist from Moadimiya, Syria. Born to Palestinian parents he joined the Free Syrian Army to fight against Bashar al-Assad, working both as a fighter and a blogger, witness and reporter. His memoir of the war 'My Country', has just been published by Bloomsbury. He is unable to come to London, so his brother will read from his book.

Omar Robert Hamilton is an author, filmmaker. He is a co-founder of PalFest and co-editor of 'This Is Not a Border: Reportage & Reflection from the Palestine Festival of Literature'. In 2017 he published his first novel, 'The City Always Wins', a chronicle of the rise and fall of the Egyptian revolution. A commitment to Palestine runs through his work - in his essays, films and fiction Palestine holds a central position within the world’s interlocking injustices.

Rachel Holmes is a biographer, activist and organiser. Her most recent book was the critically acclaimed biography of Eleanor Marx. After first travelling to Palestine with PalFest in 2010 she has returned multiple times to teach, to talk and to research. Her experience as an anti-apartheid activist in South Africa informs her work deeply - and is powerfully on display in her contribution to 'This Is Not A Border' – 'South Africa & Israel: A Familiar Geography'.

Hannah Khalil is one of the most exciting young playwrights working in Britain today. Her play, 'Scenes from 68* Years', played to rapturous reviews at the Arcola Theatre in 2016 and, the following year, she was awarded the Arab British Centre's Award for Culture. She will be performing a theatrical scene. 

Ahmed Masoud is a novelist and playwright from Gaza. Based in London, he published his debut novel Vanished in 2015 that stands alongside his numerous pieces of theatre. The Shroud Maker has enjoyed years of popular attention and has recently been staged in multiple venues across the UK. He was barred from entering Palestine by Israeli Border Forces in 2016 and prevented from participating in that year's PalFest.

Kareem Samara is a musician, improviser and activist from London that uses traditional Arabic instruments, electronics and field recordings to explore the reality of identity in diaspora. Primarily a performer, he is also a serial collaborator across many fields. A founding member of Raast collective, Kareem has also released the Thin Blue Border vol 1 & 2 EPs on Firebrand Records with Ryan Harvey and Shireen Lilith.

Kamila Shamsie is the author of seven novels, most recently the highly celebrated 'Home Fire'. After accepting British citizenship in 2014 she was able to travel to Palestine for the first time and attended that year's PalFest – having already long been a supporter of the festival. Her contribution to 'This Is Not a Border' is built on a poetic dialogue between Pakistan and Palestine.

Ahdaf Soueif is a novelist, journalist and public intellectual for whom Palestine has always held a central role - both in her work and in her life. In her novels of the 1990s the ongoing colonization of the region is the historical environment against which all action is played out. During the Second Intifada her reportage for the Guardian was groundbreaking and since 2008 she has designed and developed PalFest as a cultural intervention into the ongoing siege of Palestinian physical and intellectual life. Her latest essay, on Jerusalem, was written for 'This Is Not a Border: Reportage & Reflection from the Palestine Festival of Literature'.

William Sutcliffe is the author of seven novels. He travelled to Palestine with PalFest to research a novel in progress, but after visiting returned home and “re-built” the narrative of 'The Wall'. His follow-up, 'We See Everything', set in a London walled into a densely populated strip policed by drones, was published last year. His contribution to 'This Is Not A Border', is a timely and sharply honest consideration of the political role of the artist. 

Jehan Bseiso & Nablus Chapter, Edward Said Musical Conservatoire (PalFest 2017). Photo by Rob Stothard.

Jehan Bseiso & Nablus Chapter, Edward Said Musical Conservatoire (PalFest 2017). Photo by Rob Stothard.

PalFest 2018-07-07 00:00:00 2018-07-07 00:00:00 Toynbee Studios, London UK
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