Travelling in the opposite direction, 17 international writers head to Palestine for the second Palestine Festival of Literature from 23rd-28th May 2009. Because of the difficulties Palestinians face under military occupation in travelling around their own country, the Festival group of 17 international writers will travel to its audiences in the West Bank. It will tour to Ramallah, to Jenin, to al-Khalil/Hebron and to Bethlehem. To mark Jerusalem’s status as Cultural Capital of the Arab World for 2009, the festival will begin and end in Jerusalem. On the occasion of the first festival, last year, Mahmoud Darwish said:
Thank you, dear friends, for your noble solidarity, thank you for your courageous gesture to break the moral siege inflicted upon us and thank you because you are resisting the invitation to dance on our graves. We are still here. We are still alive.
This year, there are several Arab writers participating: Suad Amiry, Suheir Hammad, Nathalie Handal, Robin Yassin-Kassab, Jamal Mahjoub, Raja Shehadeh, and Ahdaf Soueif. Soueif, chair and Founder of PALFEST, said
We were overwhelmed by the responses of both our audience and our authors last year; so we can't wait to go back. We found that Palestinian cities – even in theextraordinarily cruel circumstances in which they find themselves – manage to produce brilliant art and top class education. PALFEST aims to help them carry on doing that.The Palestine Festival of Literature was inspired by the call of the late great Palestinian thinker, Edward Said, to “reaffirm the power of culture over the culture of power.” PALFEST 09 is organized in co-operation with Yabous Productions, and in partnership with the British Council.