As reported by Mondoweiss, last night at 3am, Israeli troops entered the home of my host in Jenin, Nabil Al Raee, Artistic Director of the Freedom Theatre, and arrested him at gunpoint.  The soliders gave Nabil and his wife Micaela no explanation for their actions, and their intrusion terrified his three-year old daughter.  Nabil is currently being held in a nearby military prison. Jenin is in Zone A of the West Bank, under Palestinian control and administration, and this arrest by the IDF violates the Oslo Accords.  To be arrested without charge also violates Nabil Al Raee’s human rights. As the co-founder of British Writers in Support of Palestine, I have issued a statement condemning in unequivocal terms this violent, illegal and repressive act, which is part of a systematic campaign of intimidation clearly directed at the Freedom Theatre itself.  As I reported…

Read more

Note: for the benefit of readers hazy in the geopolitical department, a short history of the West Bank is included at the end of this post. I don’t think you have to visit a country in order to have a valid opinion about it, but as a writer-activist, and a vocal advocate of the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions movement since the 2009 Gaza Massacre, this year I felt the time had come to go to Palestine.  Creatively, I wanted to experience the conditions of daily life there as research for my second novel, which is set in a colonialist post-apocalyptic, post-oil world.  Politically and professionally, I hoped to forge stronger ties with local activists, and make what contribution I could to their political and cultural resistance.  In particular, I was going to the West Bank to visit The Freedom Theatre in Jenin Refugee Camp, and to take part in a…

Read more

Jerusalem.  The Holy City.  Centre of three major world religions,  and surely a place that should transcend political differences, remind us of our shared humanity, and humble all who enter its ancient walls? For while I am not a member of any of the patriarchal Abrahamic faiths, it seems to me that Christianity, Judaism and Islam share a reverence for knowledge, love, and justice and their houses of worship can be experienced as imperfect shrines to these ideals.  Despite the promise of interfaith harmony still faintly echoing through the lanes of the Old City, however, modern West Jerusalem is not built on any spiritual values I can recognise.  The contemporary city is closer to ancient Rome – a gloating festival of Zionist triumphalism, a swaggering celebration of military might, intent on the ruthless dispossession of the indigenous population.  As such, it cannot last. But more of prophecies in a moment. …

Read more

First day in Israel-Palestine, and a stop in Tel Aviv en route to Jerusalem, Jenin and Ramallah.  But what to do in a city you are boycotting?  Protest, of course.  Today I joined Arab and Jewish Israeli activists demonstrating in Yaffa – AKA Jaffa or Yafo, the old Arab town now subsumed by Tel Aviv – in support of the mass hunger strike of over 1600 Palestinian prisoners. The prisoners are demanding an end to the practice of Administrative Detention – indefinite imprisonment without charge or trial – the use of solitary confinement and the denial of family visits, in some cases for years. Today marked the 75th day of hunger for two men, Thaer Halahleh and Bilal Diab, who are now close to death.  The strike is reaching crisis point, and could trigger the eruption of the Third Intifada. Not that you would guess that from Tel Aviv’s crowded beaches,…

Read more

4/4