The Palestine Festival of Literature is a traveling cultural roadshow touring across the West Bank, in Palestine, from May 23 to 28.
It aims to bring writers and artists from around the world to Palestinian audiences, to initiate and organize cultural festivals with international and local participation. Also, workshops with students in Palestinian academic institutions in co-operation with Palestinian academics are being organized on the sidelines.
According to the event's organizers:
Because of the difficulties Palestinians face under military occupation in traveling around their own country, the Festival will travel to its audiences. It will tour to Ramallah, to Jenin, to al-Khalil/Hebron and to Bethlehem. To celebrate its year as Cultural Capital of the Arab World, the festival will begin and end in Jerusalem. And for those audiences that we can't reach, we're running several ways to connect with the festival: from author blogs to daily videos to twitter updates you can check them all out on our Connect page.
However, the festival opening didn't start as smooth as expected and the first night was shut down by armed Israeli police.
Dan-Chyi Chua, from China, who took part in the festival wrote under the title “Reality Check or How to hold a festival under occupation” the detailed story of how the Israeli security forces came with guns and closed the ceremony down. She also adds her personal thoughts on this experience:
It is not a bad idea – to say the very least – to arrive in the West Bank, to set aside the ideals, causes and perceptions that we have packed along with our luggage on this trip, and instead listen to the stories of the people here. The voices of the Palestinian people are already sufficiently subdued, without outsiders coming to further drown it out.
Egyptian novelist, Ahdaf Soueif, who also participated in the festival, concluding her powerful blog post with this phrase:
Today, my friends, we saw the clearest example of our mission: to confront the culture of power with the power of culture.
English PEN World Atlas, echoing Ahdaf Soueif's Culture vs. Power quote, shared a video from the opening night.
Needless to say that it was not so long before people from all around the globe started tweeting about the event.
Here is a snapshot of some of the reactions from Twitter:
Great post, I love the way twitter and tech is allowing us to communicate real time about these events. Will the pen prove mightier than the (proverbial) sword?