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.


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.


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 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.


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.


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.


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.



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!



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)

Creation Under Occupation: An Evening with Jenin Freedom Theatre

This month Zoe Lafferty, Associate Director of The Jenin Freedom Theatre and Ahmed Tobasi, a Palestinian actor with the Freedom Theatre have been touring Britain, screening shorts films, documentaries and discussing cultural resistance.

The Freedom Theatre was built in the heart of the Palestinian resistance in Jenin Refugee Camp in 2006. The aim was to create a political and artistic movement of theatre and filmmakers who could fight the Israeli Occupation through art and use cultural resistance as a tool to fight oppression.

Tower Hamlets Jenin Friendship Association are proud to be hosting Ahmed at the iconic Wilton’s Music Hall, London on the evening of Monday 23rd June for the final event of the tour. There will be an interactive performance involving members of the audience.

Doors open: 6.30pm

Peformance starts: 7.30pm

Tickets are £5 on the door and all proceeds will go towards Tower Hamlets Jenin Friendship Association.

Palestinian food and refreshments will be available from the wonderful Maramia Cafe from 6.30pm.

Please write to your Tower Hamlets Councillors asking them to support twinning motion

We need your assistance! A motion to officially twin Tower Hamlets with Jenin is going to full council on Wednesday 27th November. It has the support of the Mayor and cabinet but also requires the support of the ruling Labour group. Make sure your councillors are supporting the motion by amending this letter as appropriate and emailing it to the Tower Hamlets Councillors (addresses below):

Dear Councillor

I am writing to you to ask for your support for the motion to be proposed at the Council meeting on Wednesday, to twin the borough of Tower Hamlets with the Province of Jenin in Palestine.

I believe that such a twinning would be of great mutual benefit to the people in both areas. The Palestinian people of Jenin are reaching out for international relationships and support and in my view the vast majority of people in Tower Hamlets would like to enter into such a relationship. At the same time, this would be of benefit to the people here in Tower Hamlets, as they learn about the lives of the Palestinian people, and our schools, colleges and other community groups can be enriched by the connections made.

Such links can also contribute to the pursuance of social justice in this part of the world, as twinning can provide an expression of hope that one day all the people there, whether they be Muslim, Jewish, Christian, or of no faith, may live together peacefully.

As a Tower Hamlets resident, I therefore hope that you will support this motion.

Kind regards,

[Your name and address]

Please select the relevant addresses for your area or simply write to all the councillors:,,, ‘’,,,,, ‘’,,,, ‘’,,, ‘’,,,,,, ‘’,,,,, ‘’,,,,,,,,,,,, ‘’,, ‘’,,,, ‘’, ‘’,,,, ‘’,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

Delegation of Tower Hamlets Councillors Visit Jenin!

A moving meeting with 3 Jenin prisoners who had been released after 20 years in Israeli jails.

In August 2013, Councillors Ohid Ahmed (Deputy Mayor), Shahed Ali, Rania Khan and Lutfa Begum visited Jenin on a visit organised by THJFA. Following a brief stay in occupied East Jerusalem, the delegation proceeded to Jenin where they spent days learning about the city and the camp of Jenin and the situation of the Palestinians living there. Talal Dweikat, the Governor of Jenin, who visited Tower Hamlets last year, invited and received the delegation.

In Jenin, the delegation were welcomed by the Governor of the Jenin Province, Talal Dweikat, who visited Tower Hamlets in 2012, and the Mayor of Jenin Town and the Mufti, along with THJFA’s partner Yousef Awad of the Jenin Creative Cultural Centre.

The delegation were invited to attend the celebration of the release of three Palestinian prisoners from Jenin, who were freed from Israeli jails as part of the build up to the current negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. A fuller report and pictures of the visit are on the Pictures page of the website.

Press Release from the Freedom Theatre on Zakaria



Press Release
The Freedom Theatre, Jenin Refugee Camp, Occupied Palestine

September 17, 2012


The Freedom Theatre co-founder Zakaria Zubeidi detained by PA a further 19 days, vows to continue food and fluid strike to the death


Zakaria Zubeidi, co-founder of The Freedom Theatre, was today sentenced to another 19 days in Palestinian Authority prison. Zubeidi responded by declaring that he was resuming a full hunger strike and from this point on would not eat, drink or speak.


“This court and this judge made an unfair decision against me, Zubeidi said in an extremely weak voice. “I’ve been in prison for a long time without evidence. This morning the doctor told me I have three days to live if I don’t drink water. So this court has decided to kill me.”


Zubeidi was supporting himself on the railing as he stood. He took off his shirt, revealing a noticeably thin torso, and pointed out the multiple bullet wounds he had obtained from his years as a fighter against Israeli occupation. “I have been a freedom fighter since I was born, and it’s unjust for me to die here.”


“This decision is unjust and means you want to kill me, but I want to choose how I will die. In four days, there will be a funeral from Jericho to Jenin”, Zubeidi concluded.


Zubeidi’s wife, who attended the hearing, broke down in tears when the ruling was announced. She said: “This is a humiliation for the Palestinian resistance. Someone who was the leader of the Al Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades in 2002 is now suffering inside a Palestinian Authority prison instead of an Israeli prison.”


The court hearing was also attended by members of The Freedom Theatre and friends of Zubeidi’s from all over the world. Zubeidi was clearly touched by the support, waving and smiling to his colleagues and friends. When the proceedings ended, international and Palestinian supporters stood and chanted “Shame! Shame! The world is watching you!” and “This is Palestinian democracy? You are no better than the Israelis!”


The judge ordered a further 19 days of detention for Zubeidi, bowing to the prosecution’s request for “more time to finish the investigation” stating that these 19 days was the prosecution’s final chance to bring charges against Zubeidi, who has been in the custody of the Palestinian Security Forces since May 13. No charges or evidence of wrongdoing have been presented.


“Zakaria was the person who inspired me to stay in Palestine to join the struggle for freedom against occupation,” said Jonatan Stanczak, Managing Director of the Freedom Theatre. ‘The Palestinian Authority has succeeded with what the Israelis did not: to kill Zakaria. The PA has learnt their lesson from the Israelis very well, to the extent that they have become themselves part of the occupation.”





For more information:


Jonatan Stanczak, Managing Director of The Freedom Theatre





Note to Editors:

For more background, see Human Rights Watch statement:


Latest Article and THJFA Action on Zakaria

A very good article has just been published by Haaretz on Zakaria Zubeidi.

Tower Hamlets Jenin Freidnship Association supports the work of the Jenin Freedom Theatre and Zakaria.

We will be sending in the following letter to all our MPs and handing in a similar letter to the Palestinian Embassy on Friday at 2pm:

We are members Tower Hamlets Jenin Friendship Association, one of several organisations twinning boroughs in the UK with towns / cities in Palestine.  Our association, as you probably know, is involved in supporting Palestine in general, and Jenin and the Jenin refugee camp in particular.  We organise volunteer programs, host Palestinian speakers and visitors and raise public awareness of Palestinian issues in our country.


We are writing to you as a supporter of the Palestinian cause because we are very disturbed by the news we have received about the detention without charge of Zakaria Zubeidi a prominent figure in Jenin refugee camp.  Zakaria, was one of the founders of the Freedom Theatre in Jenin Camp, which has had a huge influence through its work in drawing international attention to the Palestinian situation and its effect on people there.  In 2005 he renounced armed struggle and devoted himself to resistance by peaceful cultural means.  Last year, the amnesty he was given by the Israelis was revoked without any reason being given.


Since his arrest and detention by the Palestinian Authority four months ago, he has not been charged with anything or brought to trial.  We have now learnt that he has now declared that he will embark on a total hunger strike including fluids.  Given that the illegal Israeli practice of administrative detention has rightly caused an international outcry, we think it is absolutely wrong that Zakaria should be treated in a similar manner by the Palestinian Authority itself, for reasons that we can only guess at.  We consider that this action will harm the Palestinian cause especially if Zakaria persists in his decision and he ends his life, which could easily happen in a short time.


We appeal to you as a friend of the Palestinians to use any influence you have to persuade the Palestinian Authority either to charge Zakaria and put him on trial if it thinks he is guilty of anything, or to release him at the earliest possible time.  This is extremely urgent.  Zakaria’s death would be a tragedy for his family and for the people of Jenin Camp, and it will damage the Palestinian cause.   It is essential that in opposing the unjust Israeli occupation, the Palestinian Authority firmly puts itself on the side of human rights and the rule of law.


Yours sincerely,