– As partners of the Kairos Britain initiative, we wanted to highlight this years’ World Week for Peace in Palestine and Israel (18th – 24th September 2016) by encouraging our members in Christian faith communities to share their experiences with you. Deborah shares her experience of Greenbelt festival this year an how it continues to highlight the Palestinian struggle…
Greenbelt is a significant punctuation point in the year and for many people of faith is a highlight which sustains them for the rest of the year. It is not a festival that only concentrates on our personal relationship with God but propels us to act in the pursuit of justice and a more inclusive world. Greenbelt is about art and issues in a world of such riches but also much inequality. Whatever you believe about God or not Greenbelt is about a different way and all can play a part.
Palestine and Israel has for many years been a focus for Greenbelt and it is clear this has not been forgotten. Greenbelt 2016 reflected the ongoing concern about the current situation. The popular Communion service on Sunday morning was this year led by children to illustrate that children have the same worth as adults in God’s world. One Day written by Andrew Graystone was sung enthusiastically and one line especially so. “One day the wall between Israel and Palestine will be torn down, and all the children of Abraham will live side by side in peace”.
Palestine was reflected in the line up including a presentation from Make Apartheid History (who ICAHD UK partner with) showing video highlights of their year and the Alrowwad Youth theatre from Aida refugee camp in Bethlehem who performed. Alrowwad was touring the UK and had just come from a successful engagement at the Edinburgh fringe festival. The founder of the theatre Abdelfattah A Abusrour also led sessions giving his story living under occupation and his “beautiful resistance” via theatre to give young people a purpose. The young people also led sessions for youth and Dabka dance workshops. The main event and climax on Monday was “Cafe Palestina” where they performed to a packed marquee giving a taste of their dance and drama reflecting life in Palestine today. There were also songs from familiar friends like Garth Hewitt, poems and films from the Amos Trust and Embrace the Middle East. Greenbelters gave a standing ovation and you could feel the strength of support and hope in every heart.
Stalls encouraged Greenbelters to get involved and continue the struggle of raising awareness and campaigning for justice. G Source was not this year in a large marquee all together which I felt was a mistake and some stalls felt hidden away so lacked the footfall. Merian Derwent had the usual array of Palestinian crafts, olive oil and other Palestinian foods for sale and smaller groups like Living Stones and Friends of Sabeel engaged people in discussion and provided resources along with larger groups like Amos Trust.
Greenbelt has a certain magic and for me it is a place to recharge batteries and connect with like minded folk of all ages. There is often debate among organisations about the value of returning but for me I feel it is a place that can start a revolution for change. Working for justice can seem a lonely place but Greenbelt shows you the why and the how to move forward. Once we have seen the injustice as exists in Palestine we find it hard to turn away. The situation is dire and is getting worse but we must keep in mind the young Palestinians who want a future and want to live. As Ghandi said “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, and then you win.” We must keep fighting in all non violent ways possible.
– Please sign the petition here to stop the illegal demolition of Palestinian homes and property.