May 24, 2009

Power of Culture v Culture of Power

But who won? And who will win? This is from the Observer, the Sunday newspaper version of the Guardian:
Armed Israeli police last night tried to halt the opening night of a prominent Palestinian literary festival in Jerusalem when they ordered a Palestinian theatre to close.

The week-long festival, supported by the British council and Unesco, has brought several high-profile international authors – among them Henning Mankell, Michael Palin and Ahdaf Soueif – on a speaking tour of Jerusalem and the West Bank.

Shortly before the opening event was due to begin, a squad of around a dozen Israeli border police walked into the Palestinian National Theatre, in east Jerusalem, and ordered it to be closed.

Police brought a letter from the Israeli minister of internal security which said the event could not be held because it was a political activity connected to the Palestinian Authority.

Members of the audience and the eight speakers were ordered to leave, but the event was held several minutes later, on a smaller scale, in the garden of the nearby French Cultural Centre.

Israeli police were deployed on the street outside.

"We're so taken aback. It's is completely, completely independent," Egyptian novelist Soueif, who is chairing the Palestine Festival of Literature, said.

"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."

Israel regularly prevents political Palestinian events in east Jerusalem, but has recently also started to clamp down on cultural events in an apparent attempt to extend control over the city.

I think it's plainly obvious what the zionists are up to here. It's yet another attack on the Palestinian identity itself. But let the zios have a spin at this:
Micky Rosenfeld, an Israeli police spokesman, said the event was closed down because Israel believed it was organised or funded by the Palestinian Authority.

Rosenfeld said a signed order had been handed over by police.

"This is the policy being implemented with regard to any events which are either organised or funded by the Palestinian Authority in Jerusalem," he said.

He added that previous Palestinian events in the city, including the press centre for the pope, had been closed under the same policy.

Ok, now let's throw in a little naivety from the Palestinian side:
Rafiq Husseini, the chief of staff to the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, who was in last night's audience, was dismissive of the Israeli actions.

"It shows how the Israelis are not thinking, he said. "This is a cultural event. There is no terrorism, there is nobody shooting. It's just a cultural event.

"They are creating enemies for themselves."

Unfortunately it shows that the Israelis are thinking and that they want to create enemies for themselves.

Still, Michael Palin is quite a celeb in the UK and possibly in the States too and he has now seen Israel's racist rule and its expansionism first hand. He has also seen how the zionists see expressions of Palestinian culture as a security issue. Perhaps he could report back when he gets home to the UK or when he travels to the US.

In PR terms this may come to be seen as a setback for hasbara. The Observer article was written by Rory McCarthy who has tried to spin the Jewish National Fund as "a humanitarian and environmental charity" rather than the instigator and beneficiary of ethnic cleansing that it actually is. If McCarthy is now exposing the racism and expansionism of the Israeli state maybe other hasbaristas in the media will also turn.


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