TH Palestine Solidarity holds successful events to commemorate Nakba Week

To commemorate Nakba Week in May, we held two successful solidarity events in Tower Hamlets.

Roman Road Market Stall

On Saturday 13th, we held our fourth stall on the Roman Road Market, selling Zaytoun Palestinian produce (olive oil, dates, almonds, and maftoul), which again proved to be very popular.

Profits from the sales contribute towards a range of solidarity work, including future local and cultural exchange activities. Recent examples of donations to groups based in Jenin, the city we hope to one day twin with Tower Hamlets, were reported on here.

Sales of Palestinian produce though is just one benefit of our Roman Road stall. We also secured more than 40 signatures supporting the child prisoners campaign; ensured the Palestinian flag was proudly visible; had many conversations with people who knew more or less about the situation in Israeli occupied Palestine. We also promoted the Monday night event.

Film showing and talk

On Monday 15th, we held a public film night and stall at the Brady Centre, with almost 50 people attending. We screened the British documentary ‘Firefighters Under Occupation’, which was introduced by Lucy Masoud, an official from the Fire Brigades Union, who has witnessed first-hand the experience of fire fighters in occupied Palestine.

The film follows fire fighting units in Ramallah, Nablus, Hebron, Bethlehem and Jerusalem and the additional challenges they face with limited equipment having to contend with Israeli armed checkpoints and vehicle searches.

The film was followed by a short presentation by Sybil on her recent experience at the Bethlehem Marathon. The evening concluded with a Q&A with both Lucy and Sybil reflecting on what we’d seen and discuss other topical events in Palestine – particularly the hunger strike by Palestinian political prisoners, which has since been suspended after securing many of their demands.

Thanks to everyone who participated or helped to organise these events. If you would like to get involved in future events – helping on our next Roman Road stall or on local Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions engagement with shops selling fresh produce on the Roman Road are two live examples – please contact us.

Film & talk: Firefighters under Occupation – Mon 15th May Brady Centre, Whitechapel

Join us to mark the 69th anniversary of the Nakba, when 700,000 Palestinians were forced to flee their homes during and after the 1948 war with Israel and who largely remain refugees.

Tower Hamlets Palestine Solidarity is holding a free public event with film, speakers and discussion: 7.15pm-9pm, Monday, 15th May @ Brady Centre, 192-196 Hanbury Street, Whitechapel, E1 5HU.

  • Firefighters under Occupation: one-hour documentary about life as a Palestinian firefighter in the occupied West Bank
  • London Fire Brigades Union: Lucy Masoud will share her insights on the film and firefighting in Palestine
  • Bethelehem Marathon: report from our chair, who just returned from Bethlehem having completed the race
  • Palestinian produce stall: Palestinian olive oil, dates, soap, zatar (herbs) etc will be available for sale

Please join us and invite your friends for what will be a very interesting and informative evening!

We will also be running a stall at Roman Road market on Saturday, 13th May, selling Palestinian fair trade produce, so do stop by and say hello if you’re in the area.

Art and Resistance: Portrait of Palestine exhibition raises thousands for Palestine

The Portrait of Palestine exhibition was the latest project undertaken by TH Palestine Solidarity (THJFA and TH PSC) and proved an overwhelming  success.

The project:

In March 2016 local cartoonist and illustrator Tim Sanders was crowd funded to participate in a two week event called the Freedom Theatre ride round the West Bank of Palestine. The annual event is organised by the Freedom Theatre, based in Jenin refugee camp, to bring together artists and activists from Palestine and abroad to visit Palestinian communities in villages, towns and refugee camps for mutual exchange through art, theatre and discussion. Members of THJFA accompanyed Tim on the ride.

On return TH Palestine Solidarity worked to create an exhibition of the distinctive illustrations that Tim created on his journey. Our intention was to use the exhibition to make the realities of life under military occupation in Palestine accessible to a wide range of people and to promote a wider understanding of the situation in Palestine.

Funding:

Several local union branches and individuals helped fund Tim’s trip and we were also grateful to get sponsorship from Zaytoun in the form of £800 of Palestinian produce.

In order to raise money from this generous offer, stalls were booked in the Roman Road market on two occasions where we sold the produce. This, together with the income raised from a summer garden party where copies of Tim’s prints were auctioned raising a further £500, enabled us to raise the money needed to hire the gallery and fund the launch event as well as giving us the opportunity to reach out to a wide range of local people to inform them about Palestine, our group and the upcoming exhibition.

Publicity:

The exhibition was listed in the local press and online media as well as highlighted on PSC, Tower Hamlets, Zaytoun and many trade union websites. We reached lots of local people through our own social media campaign and through posting hundreds of postcards and leaflets in local venues and through letter boxes. The launch was broadcast by Al Jazeera Arabi TV while the exhibition received prominent coverage in the local council newspaper Our East End with a half page spread showing a photograph of Tim painting a mural in the West Bank.

The exhibition:

The exhibition took place at Four Corners gallery on The Roman Road, Bethnal Green from 29th Feb to 3rd Dec 2016. Thirty five prints in all were developed from Tim’s sketch-es and were printed by Print 101 on high quality giclee paper. All were framed and signed by the artist and hung around two rooms of the gallery.

A slide show of photos from the trip was also created and on continuous loop to give visitors greater insight into the places and communities visited by the Freedom bus.

The launch event on the evening of the first day was attended by around 120 people. A magnificent spread of Palestinian food was provided and a range of Zaytoun produce was on sale. Visitors heard presentations from Momin Swaitat, theatre performer and graduate

of the Freedom Theatre; Wesam Tahboub of Palestinian olive oil producers Zaytoun and of course from the artist Tim Sanders. Over £1500 was raised at this event alone from sales of £10 tickets, produce and limited edition prints.

Over the following four days a range of visitors from the diversity of local communities were encouraged into the exhibition by the colourful window display and by members of the group who took turns to wave a Palestinian flag outside the gallery and hand out leaflets to passers by.

This really worked well and resulted in a constant stream of visitors, all of whom received a folded hand out that gave a context to the images in the exhibition.

Most visitors were keen to discuss the exhibition and wider issues about Palestine and human rights. The feedback we received from these discussions, and from the feedback forms that all the visitors were asked to fill in, was overwhelmingly enthusiastic about the exhibition itself and what it represented in the fight for freedom and human rights.

At a time where politics and the media was focusing on divisions between communities it seemed that people were keen to have the opportunity to focus on our common humanity. Overall we estimated that around 300 people visited the exhibition and many of these left their email addresses so that we are able to contact them about future events.

 

Sales of prints:

All visitors were able to buy prints from a small selection available at the exhibition or to order bespoke prints that we ordered for them from the printers and which we sent off to arrive before Christmas. Despite the complexities of this task, this was achieved and in all over 150 prints were sold.

Outcomes and future plans:

As we still have the framed prints we are planning at least one further exhibition before auctioning them to raise further funds for Palestine. Currently we are negotiating an exhibition in the summer with P21 gallery in Chalton Street, Euston.

The exhibition yielded £3,500 profit which we are sharing between the Freedom Theatre in Jenin, the Jenin Cultural Centre and a project in Jenin refugee camp that produces prosthetics for people injured by conflict. We have also contributed to the production of a film by a young Palestinian on peaceful solutions to the conflict.

Sponsors:

Sponsors of the exhibition and Tim’s participation in the Ride included:

  • Zaytoun
  • East London Teachers Association (NUT)
  • Tower Hamlets UNISON
  • UNITE London housing workers’ branch
  • University and College Union London Retired Branch
  • National Union of Journalists London Central
  • We are also grateful for the support of graphic designers Smith+Bell, local picture framers Ginger White and printers Point101 as well as individual donors.

Portrait of Palestine Proves A Popular Sketch of Palestinian Life!

Thank you to everyone who attended our popular art exhibition at Four Corners Gallery, Bethnal Green.

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From Tuesday until Saturday last week, we opened the doors of the gallery to those from afar as well as from our own community, to experience Tim Sanders’ unique portrait of Palestine sketched during The Freedom Ride earlier this year.

We were humbled to host over one hundred and twenty people at the opening of the exhibition where guests enjoyed Palestinian cuisine whilst browsing the illustrations and listening to our speakers. Al Jazeera broadcast the evening’s events live! The first speaker to address the audience – international and in house – was Mo’min Swaitat, a graduate from The Freedom Theatre, the institution which organised The Freedom Ride. He spoke passionately about The Freedom Threatre, cultivating individual talent of Palestinians and the importance of protecting the cultural life of Jenin, our twinned city. He shared the lamentable news that Cinema Jenin was to be destroyed to make way for a shopping arcade. Mo’min emphasised the value of art in shaping, not merely a response to oppression, but articulating a vision of a more hopeful future.

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We owe a great debt of thanks to Zaytoun for their enormous contribution to the exhibition. Wesam Tayboub, social relations manager for Zaytoun also spoke at our opening, delighting us with the details of the ancient olive harvest in the West Bank and giving mouth-watering descriptions of Palestinian cuisine produced using ingredients such as Palestinian Medjoul dates. Zaytoun produce, which supports Palestinian farmers to continue to make a living despite the obstacles of occupation, was snapped up in great quantity during the week, especially the ‘liquid gold’ olive oil!

Tim Sanders, with his characteristic humility and humour, shared insights and inspirations that helped form the reportage style of his illustrations. He spoke movingly of the deeply affecting scenes that he witnessed, albeit it briefly, hoping that ‘the images would speak for themselves’. One of the illustrations he captioned ‘To Exist is To Resist’, for him this was the most evocative slogan of life in Palestine, capturing so much experience in so few words – something he wished to replicate with his art.

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We are delighted that many who visited the exhibition throughout the week not only enjoyed the experience but said that the illustrations enhanced their awareness of Palestinian life and struggle, just as Tim intended.

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We are enormously grateful to those who made the exhibition possible, including all the individual donors and unions who sponsored Tim to attend the Freedom Ride 2016 (NUT, Unite Housing Branch, NUJ, Unison, UCU); Zaytoun;  those involved in production and logistics including Four Corners Gallery, Ginger White company, print 101, Riverside Printers, Smith+Bell; as well as all the activists from our Tower Hamlets Palestine Solidarity group who, with no previous experience of this type of undertaking, worked over many months to put on our first ever exhibition.

A Portrait of Palestine: Brand New Exhibition to Open in Tower Hamlets!

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UN International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, Tuesday November 29th, sees the launch in the borough of our week-long exhibition “A Portrait of Palestine” featuring the work of national cartoonist and illustrator Tim Sanders along side a pop-up shop selling Zaytoun fair trade olive oil, dates and other delicious Palestinian products.

On show will be colourful depictions of everyday life among Palestinians living in West Bank refugee camps, towns and villages. Farming, food and community resilience is a strong theme. Prints and cards of selected images will also be on sale. Tim, who lives and works in Bethnal Green, was the talent behind the daily cartoon in the Independent until the newspaper switched to online only earlier this year. He recently took part in the The Freedom Ride 2016, organised by The Freedom Theatre based in Jenin  Refugee Camp.

Retired local Maths teacher Sybil Cock also joined the tour, which brought performing Freedom Theatre actors to Palestinian communities, alongside a group of internationals sharing their talents.

The opening night will include a private view, with Tim Sanders talking about the inspiration behind his images, Palestinian performer and graduate of The Freedom Theatre Momin Swaitat, plus Zaytoun representatives talking about their work with Palestinian farmers.
 
A Portrait of Palestine
 
Four Corners Gallery, 121 Roman Rd, London E2 0QN
 
Tuesday 29 November 6.30 pm – 9 pm
(Doors open 6pm)
£10 entrance including refreshments
(Concessions available at the door)
          TICKETS NOW AVAILABLE HERE

Zaytoun Stall at Organic Pop-up @Roman Road Market

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Saturday 10th September 2016

10am – 4pm

On Saturday 10 September, thirty of the UK’s top organic food and drink producers along with organic beauty brands will give the Roman Road Yard Market an organic makeover.

The Soil Association will join forces with the brand new Roman Road Yard Market, which happens every Saturday in the car park of Roman Road and St Stephen’s Road. Featuring street food, live music, and a fantastic array of tasty organic food, people can get involved in the action from 10am to 4pm.

From organic artisan bread to gourmet coffee, flavourful fruit and veg to melt-in-your-mouth cheese, Londoners can taste the best of organic and discover green from the inside out with organic beauty and yoga workshops throughout the day.

We will be selling delicious Zaytoun produce including organic olive oil, Medjoul dates, Za’tar as well as gorgeous olive oil soaps – all in aid of Tower Hamlets Palestine Solidarity and our upcoming exhibition of Tim Sanders’ work. This exhibition will be on at Four Corners Gallery, Roman Road, opening on the evening of 29th November and running until 3rd December.

A big thank you to Zaytoun for this amazing opportunity. Please come along, support us and pick yourself up something delicious and fair trade for a good cause!

For more information on the Pop-up Market, visit here

 

2016 Summer Garden Party Fundraiser – Tower Hamlets Palestine Solidarity

After the success of last summer’s garden party-fundraiser we’ll be doing it all again on Saturday, 27 August.

Expect excellent Palestinian and Middle Eastern food, Zaytoun produce and Tim’s Freedom Ride sketches for sale, and a raffle to boot.

Oh. And did I mention some excellent company.

All friends and supporters welcome.

Email us to register your attendance and receive the address (secret Bow venue).

2016 garden party

TH Palestine Solidarity backs September’s Women’s Boat to Gaza

womens boat to gaza
Picture from freedomfloatilla.org

In three months time the Women’s Boat to Gaza will set sail in an attempt to break the Israeli blockade of Gaza that has been suffocating 1.5m Palestinians for almost a decade.

The mission aims to not only highlight the escalating impact the blockade of goods and produce is having on the people living in Gaza, but also the important role women play in Palestinian society and the daily resistance to Israeli oppression.

A spokesperson for WBG said: “Like most people, we recognize the need to make our world more just and egalitarian. Women in Gaza often fill the role of caring for and sustaining life, and are actively involved in community development and nation building. It is important  to make their voices heard, even more so during periods of extreme injustice.”

TH Palestine Solidarity is supporting the Women’s Boat to Gaza, which is due to set sail in September 2016, to challenge the illegal maritime blockade of Gaza.

Please show your support for this latest project of the Freedom Flotilla Coalition however you can, including endorsing it, donating money, or time (email: james@breakgazasiege.org).

For more information visit the main website here.