The 2020 Palestine Festival in London on Saturday included a set from renowned Jordanian singer-songwriter Omar Al-Abdallat, which brought an end to another ground-breaking event for the Palestinian cause.
Organised by the Palestinian Forum in Britain and its partners in solidarity with Palestinian rights, an estimated 1,000 people attended the festival. The audience sang along with Al-Abdullat, who told those present that the beauty of the event was the presence of so many people getting together for Palestine, despite the bad weather conditions over the weekend.
Dr Hafez Al-Karmi, the head of the Forum, welcomed the singer both for his first visit to London and his efforts for Palestine. He affirmed the general rejection of America's "deal of the century" and stressed the need to work together to revive and preserve Palestinian heritage.
This was also mentioned by Professor Kamel Hawash of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC). Hawwash gave an overview of the ways in which the Israeli occupation is stealing the heritage of Palestine and even renaming its cities and streets.
He illustrated his talk with pictures showing how Palestine has long been populated with strong evidence of its civilisation and its progress before the occupation began in earnest. He demonstrated conclusively that the Israeli claim to have taken a "land without a people for a people without a land" is entirely false.
When the founder and head of Britain's Stop the War Coalition, Chris Nineham, took to the stage, he pointed out the great difficulties faced by the PSC and other pro-Palestine activists in Britain. Nineham called for them to continue their efforts for the cause and urged them not to submit to the threats of Israel and its lobby.
The Palestine Festival and the 15th annual Palestine Day provide an opportunity to bring together supporters of the Palestinians and their families. Festival Director Adnan Hmidan pointed out that the purpose is to increase the love of Palestine in the hearts of the public.
He explained that the heart-shaped strawberries were offered to everyone present not only because of Valentine's Day on Friday, but also because the Gaza Strip is famous for growing the fruit. The strawberries, said Hmidan, represented love, dignity and redemption for Gaza and its people.
Jean and Jack Shelmer, who have worked to preserve Palestinian heritage through embroidery and feature Palestinian history in their work, expressed their appreciation to the Forum for arranging the festival. Saturday was apparently the first time that their pro-Palestine efforts had been honoured.
Other activities featured at the festival – which is held every two years – included the ever-popular Palestinian dabke dance by the Yasmine Al-Sham Kids band and the Fursan Dabke group, as well as traditional Palestinian food, which proved, as usual, to be extremely popular.