British Writers In Support of Palestine

June 6, 2012

BWISP condemns arrest of Nabil Al Raee, Artistic Director of The Freedom Theatre

Filed under: West Bank — Naomi Foyle @ 7:59 pm
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As reported by Mondoweiss, last night at 3am, Israeli troops entered the home of Nabil Al Raee, Artistic Director of the Freedom Theatre in Jenin Refugee Camp, and arrested him at gunpoint, giving him and his wife no explanation for their actions, and terrifying his three-year old daughter. He 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.

British Writers in Support of Palestine condemns 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.   For the last three weeks Freedom Theatre co-founder Zakaria Zubeidi has been held without charge in a prison in Jericho.  The IDF investigation of the murder of founding Artistic Director Juliano Mer Khamis has only ever been directed at Freedom Theatre Staff, and has now been officially closed, ignoring significant forensic evidence.

British Writers in Support of Palestine demands a full and proper investigation into the murder of Juliano Mer Khamis, and the immediate release of Nabil Al Raee and Zakaria Zubeidi, neither of whom have been charged with any crime.  We thank our colleagues in the Irish Palestine Solidarity Campaign for their comprehensive statement placing these recent arrests in the context of the increasing abuse of Palestinian prisoners by Israeli military courts.  With the IPSC we call for the end of Israel’s policy of Administrative Detention and its Unlawful Combatants Law, by means of which Israel interns people without charge; and demand that Israeli courts treat all Palestinian prisoners in accordance with international law, and free all Palestinian political prisoners.

Our thoughts are with Nabil and Zakaria and their families and friends at this dark and uncertain time.

Press Release from The Freedom Theatre in Jenin Refugee Camp, northern West Bank June 6, 2012

At approximately 03:15 am the Israeli army entered the home of Nabil Al-Raee, the Artistic Director of The Freedom Theatre, and took him to an unknown location.

Nabil’s wife, Micaela Miranda explains what happened: “The dog started barking so I went outside and saw soldiers jumping over the gate and come into the yard of the house. They asked for my husband and I asked what for, that it’s my right to know and it’s my house. The soldiers replied that they were not going to tell me. They then took Nabil, brought him to an army jeep and drove off. We are very worried because we don’t know where they took him and why.”

Jonatan Stanczak, Managing Director of The Freedom Theatre: “I live on the floor above Nabil and when I heard what was happening I tried to go down to talk to the soldiers because I speak Hebrew. The house was surrounded by masked Israeli soldiers and three of them immediately pointed their weapons at me and pushed me back into the house.”

Attempts were immediately made to contact the District Coordination Office of the Israeli army but to no avail. More than half the employees of The Freedom Theatre were recently called to interrogations by the Israeli army, including Nabil Al-Raee. All came to the appointments as scheduled and answered to their best of their knowledge the given questions even though they were intimidated and even threatened.

Jonatan Stanczak continues: “I don’t understand why they do this after they know they could simply have made a phone call to Nabil and he would have come to answer any questions or concerns that they might have. Since this has happened so many times in the past, I can’t interpret it as anything else than an ongoing harassment of the employees of The Freedom Theatre and their families by the Israeli army.”

At this point it is unclear if any other members of The Freedom Theatre have been taken during the night. Several of them have not responded to phone calls.


April 14, 2011

The Word from Palfest!

Filed under: Bethlehem,Palestinian Literature,PALFEST,West Bank — Naomi Foyle @ 1:43 pm


PalFest 2011 kicks off tomorrow. We have an amazing programme lined up and everything is free and open to the public. We’re traveling through the country so, if you’re in Palestine, the chances are we’ll be near you one day this week. Come and join us.

And if you’re not in Palestine, you can follow us on Twitter and Facebook – we’ll be publishing author blogs, photos and videos every day!


April 15
10am Lajee Centre, BETHLEHEM, Aida Camp

April 15th
7.30pm African Community Society, JERUSALEM

April 16
7.30pm Arab Cultural Association, NAZARETH

April 17
Workshops with an Najah University
7pm Sheikh Qassem Café, NABLUS

April 18
Workshops with BirZeit University
Workshops with Bethlehem University

8pm Friends Meeting House, RAMALLAH
Performance by the Palestine National Orchestra

April 19
Workshops with al Quds University
8pm Khalil Sakakini Centre, RAMALLAH

April 20
7.30pm Solidarity Tent, SILWAN

See you soon!

March 14, 2011

PALFEST 2011: Call for Support

BWISP is delighted to post this PRESS RELEASE from the PALESTINE FESTIVAL of LITERATURE. We hope readers may be in a position to respond to PALFEST’s request for support.


As the revolution rolls on through the Arab world, we thought we should take a moment to update you about PalFest 2011.

We’re thrilled to announce that this year’s festival will take place from April 15th to 20th, and will hold events in Jerusalem, Ramallah, Nablus, Nazareth, Jenin, Bethlehem and al-Khalil.

We will be working with students at BirZeit, Bethlehem, an-Najah, al Quds and al Khalil universities as well as cultural centres in Jenin, Balata and Aida camps.

A full list of participating authors will be released very soon.


We are delighted to announce we’ve been offered the free use of a building in Birzeit village for three years. We are now working to establish The Palestine Writing Centre with our sister organisation, the Palestine Writing Workshop.

We’re hoping the first stage will be up and running by late April. Will keep you posted!

Support the Arts in Palestine

Raising the funds to run PalFest grows harder every year. We need to raise £20,000 in the next month to deliver a festival truly worthy of the revolutionary momentum sweeping the region.

We are proud of our track record of innovative and engaging educational programmes, our top-quality translations, our distribution of free anthologies. But now we need your help to keep our work of the highest quality.

If you can, please support the arts in Palestine. All online donations are guaranteed to go straight to our educational programmes.

Please Donate Now

December 24, 2010

Thinking of Bethlehem …

The best of this bright season to all our readers from everyone at BWISP. We are thinking especially of the people of Bethlehem at this time, and highlighted their plight to the people of Brighton on Dec 10th as part of the city’s annual Beach Hut Advent Calendar event.

We decorated the hut with an olive tree, a dove, Christmas lights, candles, cushions, and symbols of the three Abrahamic religions. We brought PSC leaflets and magazines, and photos from Active Stills and Against the Wall by William Parry, who lit up London with his recent images of Bethlehem this week. The local BBC covered our event, though naturally they airbrushed all references to Palestine … But the many passers by engaged deeply with what we had to say, and in particular with the writing of Mahmoud Darwish, whose ‘State of Siege’ we read from at the end. BWISP poets Naomi Foyle and Judith Kazantzis also read from their own work about Palestine. Here, with all our hopes for peace and justice in the Holy Land, is Judith’s poem for your seasonal reflections:

The Magi return
for Palestine 2010

In Bethlehem was born a slaughtered babe
his breast’s a wound.
See the war horse saddled with crimes.

In Palestine was born a babe,
a dozen, a hundred,
the mothers do a body count –

Of all the children born that day
we cared for only one.
The library in the palace of our brains

said, he’s the only one,
and we misread, and to redress,
we must come back again.

In Bethlehem and round about
each village and every farm
every mill and bakery,
every cobbler tapping leather,
every wheel the wheelwright worked,
under the table they hid their infants,
behind the chair,
in every house in Palestine
a babe was born,
wrapped and buried,
a dozen, a thousand,
you couldn’t keep count.
That winter, what did we know?
And so we come again.

As to that year, we left quietly,
steered by our learned star
trying to avoid all other sights,
the incandescent phosphorus stars
that rained all strange night on house and barn,
We left quietly once and long ago.


Ride here again, wrench the eye
in the new cruelty of the stars
to the flash, the uproar of breaking houses
down the alleys of the souk
down the souk of the mind.

Ride back and still we see thee lie,
O little town of Bethlehem,
children running from the sword the gun
a bitter night for what was festival.
In the library of the night,
O walled up Bethlehem,
we’ve read of a infant constellation,
a second coming in your silent sky.

Wise or not, knowing only truth,
this time we mean to witness a birth
when all your children shall dream
in the freedom of all the stars that are,
the safe shepherds of their dreaming.
And this is why we come again, we stay.
This time we will not go away.

Judith Kazantzis

December 9, 2010

Israeli Support for BDS

Filed under: Boycott Israel,West Bank — Naomi Foyle @ 12:28 am
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The growing Israeli support for BDS vividly demonstrates the justice of the campaign. When even members of an occupying state protest its brutality, it is far beyond time for the international community to take decisive action.

BWISP applauds the courage and commitment of Israeli writers and cultural workers who have added their names to the call for BDS:

Boycott! petition and website

Rela Mazali in The Huffington Post

Israeli actors refuse to appear at the Ariel Centre, West Bank

To end with the words of Reza Mazali:

‘Today, BDS can make it increasingly difficult for Israel’s government to keep up the occupation and the internal repression. Hiking up costs, it can make occupying unprofitable and racism disgraceful. Meanwhile, and no less important, it is already allowing Israeli society a clear reality check, reflecting what it looks like to international civil society, and capturing what it has become.

BDS is a means to justice for those to whom it has been denied. Not against, but rather for, both Israel and Palestine, it aims to end the policies destroying the lives of Palestinians and devouring the humanity of Israelis. BDS supports the livable, viable futures of all the people of this land.’

October 8, 2010

BWISP members in Palestine … or en route!

BWISP member Robin Yassin-Kassab is currently blogging on Pulse from the West Bank, while BWISP co-founder Irving Weinman’s Word Convoy will record his journey to deliver surgical supplies to Gaza with the Road to Hope Convoy to Gaza. Both writers will be delivering asute, compassionate and informed observations and analysis of their experiences. You can sign up to follow their accounts via these links:

Special thanks to Robin for posting a link to Project Hope, where international and local volunteers work together teaching children and young adults in Nablus. And all strength and good spirits to Irving and The Road to Hope Convoyin their upcoming trek across North Africa to Gaza!

Blog at