The press release ahead of the “Tahrir Square to Jerusalem” event in Logan Hall London promised to be an “imaginative production that will transport us from Tahrir Square through Jenin and to the heart of the new Jasmine Revolution sweeping the Arab world”.
Razanne Carmey the artistic director and Mohamed Masharqa the producer certainly kept their promise. It was indeed an incredible evening, and probably the biggest Palestinian cultural event since the 2005 Deir Yassin Annual commemoration event. Once again we saw a room entirely full with an enthusiastic, dynamic crowd, supporting a stage that was exploding with Palestinian talent.
The night was a commemoration for the great Juliano Mer Khamis, and a celebration of the power of cultural resistance. In the spirit of the ongoing regional Intifada in the Middle East, we saw hundreds of highly motivated Palestinians and other members of the Arab community rising together, believing in themselves and their cause.
The talent on stage was incredible: we enjoyed moving performances from Aymen Safieh, an incredible Palestinian modern ballet dancer, Al Zaytouna, enthusiastic Debka group, fabulous Nizar Al Issa and the outstanding Amal Murkus and her world class band, all of whom lit up the evening.
But, there were also a few issues of concern that should be raised: the truth of the matter is that, prior to the evening’s entertainment, I had been quite worried about the potential success of the show, because, generally speaking, tickets sales are very slow in Britain at the moment. But, I also knew that the PSC and CAABU (both production partners) hadn’t managed to sell many tickets in the run up to the show.
Eventually though, it was clear to me that there had been no real reason to worry: the Arab community got it right, and Logan Hall turned out to be very busy on the night.
And yet, I still want to express some concern: even though the event was strongly supported by the diverse Arab communities, how is it that out of more than 3000 PSC members, not that many UK people came out to support the event and to support these expressions of Palestinian culture? This is a serious question and it better be addressed by people who claim to support Palestine and Palestinians.
In Logan Hall, I met an old friend of mine, a much respected PSC activist and a very insightful woman. We both knew the truth: the Arab community had supported the event -- but the English and the Jewish activists were just not there. I asked my friend, how is it that all those Jewish fiery enthusiast activists who join every BDS call to boo Israeli artists off stage -- had failed to support the crème of Palestinian culture and artists? I do understand the reasoning behind Israeli boycott activity, and yet, isn’t it equally important to support Palestinian artists?
My friend’s answer was simple: “They may call themselves Palestinian Solidarity campaigners -- but in reality, they are largely interested in Jewish anti Israeli solidarity,” she said.