Tweets from PalFest 2016

The Palestine Festival of Literature (PalFest) is taking place, in events across historic Palestine, May 21 – 26.

the power of culture over the culture of power

The festival’s mission is explained on its Facebook page as follows:

The Palestine Festival of Literature (PalFest) was established in 2008 with the aim of supporting cultural life in Palestine, breaking the cultural siege imposed on Palestinians by the Israeli military occupation and strengthening cultural links between Palestine and the rest of the world.

Since 2008 an annual literary festival has been the center of our activities and we have brought dozens of influential literary figures from the UK, US and Arab world to teach workshops and perform in free public events. We partner with dozens of Palestinian organizations – cultural and educational – to produce an immersive, collaborative festival every year.

We work to reaffirm, in the words of Edward Said, ‘the power of culture over the culture of power’

PalFest’s Patrons are John Berger, Philip Pullman, Emma Thompson and the late greats Chinua Achebe, Mahmoud Darwish, Seamus Heaney & Harold Pinter.

There have already been some beautiful pictures and powerful quotes from speakers shared on Twitter and I thought I’d share some of them on this blog to try to create a picture of what the festival is like, and what everyday life in Palestine is like.  It’s great to see that Remi Kanazi (who I wrote about here when he included the small Wiltshire town of Trowbridge on his UK tour earlier in 2016) is one of the invited performers this year.  If you can, do follow some, or all, of these tweeters this week as they continue to offer us a window into their #PalFest experience.


nowhere refuge, only refugees

There’s more blood than water today in Gaza

Thank you to writers, poets, performers and artists sharing these images and experiences from Palestine.  Lookout for the #PalFest2016 hashtag.  More on the PalFest Facebook page and at

Since posting these tweets, I’ve learned the frustrating news that Israel has denied entry to two artists this year, London-based Nigerian writer Inua Ellams and UK-based Palestinian writer Ahmed Masoud.  Inua Ellams was denied a visa by the Israeli embassy in London and Ahmed Masoud, who has a British passport, was denied entry into Gaza from  Amman.  He has written a moving account about this at his blog here.

It’s hard not to keep adding to this post.  The tweets coming from PalFest are mesmerising. I think these will be my last three.  Head over to PalFest’s feeds on Twitter and Facebook to keep up to date.

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