الصهاينة يشنون حملة عنصرية وهستيرية ضد مهرجان فلسطين تكتب الأدبي
التاريخ: 
21/09/2023
المؤلف: 

Editor's Note: The center of the image used is an illustration by artist Brice Patterson. The expansion of the image was done using AI with the artist's permission for the usage of the Palestine Square blog. 

This weekend marks the second iteration of the Palestine Writes Literature Festival — the only one of its kind in North America. The festival virtually debuted in 2020 after the pandemic abruptly prevented an in-person gathering. Three years later, numerous dedicated organizers, volunteers, and supporters have worked tirelessly to host a celebration of Palestinian cultural production inviting more than 120 speakers, writers, and artists. The Palestine Writes Literature Festival will open on September 22 at the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, homeland of the Lenni-Lenape People. 

It is no surprise that the Festival caught the negative attention of Zionists and Zionist organizations, specifically the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), the Jewish Federation, and elected officials, like New Jersey Congressman Josh Gottheimer. The Festival’s team consists of mainly volunteers, including students, many of whom attend UPenn themselves. In contrast, these Zionist organizations are highly funded and connected to powerful individuals who share one goal: to villanize and erase the Palestinian narrative from the public. For example, Gottheimer, who released an open letter against the festival received over $200,000 in financial contributions from AIPAC in 2022. 

These calculated attacks on the festival cite “anti-Israel bias and antisemitism.” The only argument to be made about bias is the unconditional support given to prop up the pro-Israel agenda, with lobbyists shelling out millions of dollars every year to keep support for Israel at the helm of American politics and popular opinion. 

In the midst of the racist attacks, Susan Abulhawa, executive director of the Festival, released a response on behalf of the organizing committee. Abulhawa acknowledged the power disparity between the Festival, its student organizers, and these Zionist organizations who have in recent days sponsored inciteful mobile billboards and branded beverages and posters.  The response letter elicits grace while maintaining direct and unwavering support for Palestine in the face of immense bigotry. Abulhawa acknowledges the decades-long dehumanization of Palestinians. One of the best aspects of the letter is addressing the villainization of the victim. The letter reiterates that Palestinians will not stand silent in the face of violent accusations when it is the Palestinian people who have been oppressed for over seven decades. 

 

The hateful tactics used by the ADL and Jewish Federation are not new to the Palestinian community. Abulhawa cites multiple examples of how the sheer mention of Palestinians and our culture has driven relentless hate campaigns by these very same organizations. To acknowledge Palestinians exist or to provide us with a platform is a cardinal sin for Zionists. We have seen examples of this such as when Zionists campaigned to have the film Farha, which depicts the Palestinian Nakba, removed from streaming services. Even songs by Palestinian musicians have been targeted, with Zionists attempting to push for their removal from Spotify. 

We will not stay silent as Zionists attempt to steal the Palestinian narrative and victimize themselves as they support a settler-colonial state committing crimes against humanity, including but not limited to apartheid. As Abulhawa perfectly states, “We are the ones who have been expelled from our homes; our history, heritage stolen; our families robbed and shattered all over the world.” It is in times like these that we are confronted with just how blatantly acceptable anti-Palestinian racism is in the United States. It is no exaggeration to state that giving Palestinians any platform is a threat to Zionism and Zionists everywhere. This festival, which sheds light on cultural productions such as Palestinian literature, films, cooking, art, and more, would only strike fear in those who know they are guilty of the attempted destruction of Palestinian life, society, and culture. 

The racist track record of Zionist organizations like the ADL is a perfect demonstration of just how significant events such as the Palestine Writes Festival are. Censorship of any and all things Palestine has been the norm for many generations, but Palestinians will not allow for our language, art forms, or fight for humanity to be deemed a threat by the very people who seek to eradicate us. 

A popular phrase coined by Palestinians is: “Existence is resistance.” The Palestine Writes Literature Festival is a perfect example of how the simple act of existing and having pride in one's Palestinian identity is an act of resistance. The acts of writing, singing, dancing, or educating the public on any aspect of Palestinian culture are in protest of Zionism. Palestinian existence in itself debunks the myths that Zionism desperately relies on. 

Although anti-Palestinian hatred has attempted to rob the public of this celebration of Palestinian brilliance, we have seen a wave of support for the Palestine Writes festival and the Palestinian community. Student groups at the University of Pennsylvania, such as Police Free Penn, the Penn Arab Society/Penn Against the Occupation, and The Chavurah, as well as faculty have all released public statements standing in support of the festival. Anyone familiar with the Palestinian struggle is aware of the heavy price that comes with a public declaration of support for Palestine. Constant harassment and loss of livelihood are common, but more extreme retaliation is not unheard of. Everyone who is organizing, participating, and supporting this endeavor deserves respect and thanks for fearlessly standing up against violent accusations and threats. As this op-ed acts as another showcase of support, I am also delighted to report that as of now, the Palestine Writes Literature Festival is oversold, proving that Palestine will always prevail as a just cause.