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1445 شعبان 13 | 23 فبراير 2024

British Palestinians revive their heritage in a festival attended by Jeremy Corbyn

British Palestinians revive their heritage in a festival attended by Jeremy Corbynفلسطينيو بريطانيا يحيون تراثهم بحضور جيرمي كوربن
فريق التحرير 20 December 2021
British Palestinians revive their heritage in a festival attended by Jeremy Corbyn 

The annual “Palestine Festival” attracted quite a large number of people, with about 1,500 audience members in Byron Hall, west London, as well as over 10,000 people who joined in the festivities via social media platforms and satellite channels. The attendance had to be limited due to COVID-19 and the recent development concerning the variant Omicron.

Organized by the Palestinian Forum in Britain (PFB) in its sixteenth year, the Palestine Festival 2021 kicked off with a strong speech from Jeremy Corbyn, a veteran parliamentarian and former leader of the British opposition, in which he stresses that “the Palestinian people have suffered like no other, in that they have been under occupation for many decades, and many are living in refugee camps ever since 1948.”

He emphasized the importance of recognizing “that there is an entity known as Palestine. There is a State of Palestine”. Adding that he was “proud to present a manifesto in the election two years ago to the British public which included unconditional recognition of the state of Palestine.”

Toni Qattan sparks a flame of Palestinian nostalgia in London

The festival packed the Palestinian fiery in the form of special activities for children, traditional Dabkeh performances, and a concert by the famous artist, Toni Qattan.

Attendees could also enjoy an exhibition of traditional Palestinian products and embroideries, and a food market featuring a variety of famous Palestinian dishes.

The festival’s acts were all met with an enthused reaction from the audience members. Videos see people waving their flags, clapping, and singing along to performance from the Yasmine Al-Sham group for children, folkdance group Al-Fursan, and Toni Qattan’s enlivening performance of songs such as “Falastini”, “Biktub Ismik Ya Bladi”, and other well-known Palestinian songs.

In addition to the entertaining performances, the Palestine Festival took time to acknowledge and award the efforts of a selection of prominent figures in the UK, who have been a great asset to the Palestinian cause – most notably, Mr. Jeremy Corbyn, the former leader of the British Labour Party.

Zaher Birawi delivers the forum’s official speech

The director of PFB, Zaher Birawi, took the stage to deliver a speech on behalf of the organization, in which he welcomes all and introduces the aims and nature of the festival.

He addresses the crowd, saying that “the festival is presented to you in a distinguished way that takes you to Palestine; its heritage, its traditional dishes, its songs, its embroideries, its fragrant olive oil, its thyme, and its sage, to provide you with a taste of its rich culture.” 

“This annual festival takes place at a time when the world is worryingly silent amid the cries of our oppressed people living under a racist illegal occupation, and in the face of the continued attacks against Palestinian rights,” he added.

“The festival comes at a time when we witness continuous attempts to silence Palestinians and their supporters here in the UK through various means.”

Birawi went on to assert that “We [as Palestinians] will not remain silent about our rights, and we will never relinquish our demands so long as we have beating hearts. We will continue to struggle for the freedom of our people and our homeland, generation after generation, until the glorious day comes when we raise the Palestinian flag on the walls of Jerusalem and on Al-Aqsa Mosque and in all our cities and towns throughout Palestine.”

He also stressed that Palestinians of Britain pledge their loyalty to the families in the occupied land and continue to work to “support their steadfastness, carry their flag, promote their rightful stand within this struggle, expose the crimes of their enemy, and delegitimize their occupier, until the international supply cord is cut off from the Israeli apartheid regime.”

Celebration of the Palestinian Identity  

Adnan Hmidan, director of the Palestine Festival, also spoke about the purpose of the festival.

“This festival is organized to remind the Palestinians in particular, as well as the Arabs and Muslims and all free people of the world”, he says, “about the cause of Palestine, the right of return and the usurped sacred sites, and connecting future generations emerging in the UK to their identity and heritage”.

Hmidan stresses that watching Dabke and eating Falafel may not liberate Palestine, but that it is important to reaffirm them as part of the Palestinian heritage, in light of Israeli attempts to claim them as their own. 

As such, Dabke and Falafel become tools in the battle to preserve the Palestinian identity and the history of its lands.

According to the organizers, the festival aims to contribute to the promotion of the Palestinian narrative of the conflict in light of the sea of ​​lies propagated by the Israeli occupation and its tools in the UK – and the whole world – through paintings, dabkeh, national songs, popular foods and other beautiful and interesting performances.

The event also carried a number of political messages, the most important of which is that members of the Palestinian community in the UK are part of the largely diverse British society, but they are also Palestinians who dream of returning to their homes from which they were displaced.

# British Palestinians revive their heritage in a festival attended by Jeremy Corbyn

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