Posted on September 2, 2011, by & filed under Articles, Culture.

ICAHD UK had a major presence at the annual Greenbelt Festival, where arts, faith and justice collide and where there was a focus on Palestine for the third successive year. Located at Cheltenham Racecourse over the August Bank Holiday weekend, Salim Shawamreh, ICAHDas field coordinator, spoke to the festival theme, _Dreams of Homea. Around 250 people crowded around the venue to hear his story of the four house demolitions that his family have experienced by Israeli authorities, illegal under international law. Salim also participated in the Amos Trust _Horiya Palestine!a event that also featured Reem Kelani & Al Zaytouna Dance Theatre. The show ended with the Palestinians dancing on stage to One Worldas _Freedom for Palestinea song with Salim standing in the centre waving the Palestine flag.

Both Salim and Linda Ramsden, ICAHD UKas director, were part of the panel, _Slouching towards Bethlehema. Salim focussed on the current situation on the ground, expressing his desire for a Palestine state and to have the British Consulate in East Jerusalem replaced by a British Embassy, while Linda spoke about the need for the church community at the grassroots level to engage with this issue to push church leaders to do the right thing in response to the injustice happening in the Holy Land.

Karen Chalk, ICAHD UKas new administrator, led the team of ICAHD UK members who manned our stall, some also participating in _checkpointa stunts to help illustrate the lack of freedom of movement for Palestinians within the Occupied Territories.

The ICAHD UK stall was part of the space taken by the umbrella group, Rediscovering Palestine, located in the 9m x 13m tent shared with the Greenbelt Just Peace Campaign team. In addition to the stalls, Karen helped introduce a variety of festival speakers and musicians to give punters additional opportunity to hear from them and ask questions. These included: Glyn Secker of Jews for Justice for Palestine, who captained a boat of Jewish activists to Gaza; and Israeli Air Force refusenik Yonatan Shapira.

A mock-up section of Separation Wall, actual height

A highlight on the last day of the festival was Mark Thomas performing his show, ‘Extreme Rambling – walking the Wall’. Three thousand people filled the Big Top tent and gave him a rousing standing ovation. When Mark returned to the stage he stated:

  • This is Apartheid

  • Get involved in BDS

  • The churches should be leading on this issue

For more news, check the Greenbelt website, where there is also a facility to order the talks on CD or as MP3 downloads.