Palestine Unlocked – Celebrating Life and Culture: 4 – 21 June 2015 (Oxford, UK)

 Sending a BIG shout out to this incredible upcoming festival.
To go to their website click here.


A Conversation with Dr. Mustafa Barghouti

Monday 8th June – Nobel Peace Prize nominee and General Secretary of the Palestinian National Initiative Mustafa Barghouti will be in conversation with Edward Mortimer about the future of Palestine. Mustafa Barghouti has been an active member in Palestinian politics…

Celebrating Life and Culture: 4 – 21 June 2015


Films at the Phoenix

Don’t miss this fascinating series of Palestinian films! Open Bethlehem, Omar and High Hopes will be shown at the Phoenix Picturehouse. Each film will be followed by a Q&A/discussion panel. Omar 6pm, Thursday 4th June, Phoenix Picturehouse. For tickets &…


Palestine Unlocked’s Comedy Event

Friday 5th June – Palestine Unlocked hosts a comedy night at Oxford’s number one comedy venue, The Glee Club. Tim Renkow, Sajeela Kershi, Chris Coltrane, and Nabil Abdulrashid will be performing live, with Ivor Dembina compering. Support a great cause and…


Celebration of Solidarity

Saturday 6th June – Palestine Unlocked’s Opening Ceremony will feature Al-Zaytouna who will perform Palestine’s national folk dance – the ‘Dabke’ – followed by a brief workshop so you can have fun learning the steps! A local Morris dancing side will…


Kite Flying – Family Fun

Sunday 7th June – Did you know that Gaza holds the Guinness World Record for kite flying! In July 2010 a staggering 7202 kites were flown simultaneously. Come and join us as we celebrate the Palestinian tradition of kite-flying and…


A Conversation with Dr. Mustafa Barghouti

Monday 8th June – Nobel Peace Prize nominee and General Secretary of the Palestinian National Initiative Mustafa Barghouti will be in conversation with Edward Mortimer about the future of Palestine. Mustafa Barghouti has been an active member in Palestinian politics…


Palestine: Exile and Return

Tuesday 9th June – Palestinian authors Dr Ghada Karmi, Karl Sabbagh and Selma Dabbagh will speak about their work and writing. Ghada Karmi –will speak about her new book “Return: A Palestinian Memoir”. Beautifully written and deeply moving, Return is…


A Bird is not a Stone

Wednesday June 10th – A rare opportunity to discover the range and variety of extraordinary voices in contemporary Palestinian poetry translated by Scotland’s most acclaimed poets. Editor Sarah Irving and poets involved in the project will bring this poetry and…


Romeo and Juliet in Palestine

Friday June 12th – Tom Sperlinger, Reader in English Literature and Community Engagement at the University of Bristol discusses his recently published book written following 5 months teaching English Literature at the Abu Dis campus of al Quds University in the Occupied…


The Book of Gaza

Friday 12th June – writing from a city under occupation and under fire. Sarah Irving will present some of these stories collected in the prize-winning collection The Book of Gaza (Comma Press, 2014) alongside some of its editor, Atef Abu…


Palestinian History Tapestry Project

Saturday 13th & 20th June – Jan Chalmers will talk about the Palestinian History Tapestry Project. The Tapestry will be exhibited in St Giles Church throughout the festival. Jan will explain and demonstrate how the embroidery project was initiated and how…


Ashtar Theatre & Pegasus Youth Theatre

Saturday 13th June – Ashtar Theatre’s 48 Minutes for Palestine and Gaza Monologues, at the Pegasus Theatre 2pm & 7.30pm, Saturday 13th June, Pegasus Theatre. For tickets and more information about getting to Pegasus, click here. Or call (01865) 812150…


Family Storytelling: “One City Two Brothers”

Sunday 14th June – Storyteller and author Chris Smith will perform this story, together with a number of other wonderful stories and songs from Palestine. Chris lived for 15 years in Palestine and currently runs Storytelling Schools and Storytelling Republic here…


Living Stones: following Christ in the Holy Land

Sunday 14th June – a sermon by Sami Awad, of the Holy Land Trust, Bethlehem. Sami Awad is the Executive Director of the Holy Land Trust based in Bethlehem. The organisation exists to lead in creating an environment that fosters…


Palestine Medical Week

Monday 15th June to Saturday 20th June – a series of talks by health professionals who have worked in Gaza. The flyer will be available to download soon. Oxford Medical Teaching Initiative in Palestine: Oxford Medics who have travelled and…


Evening with Sami Awad

Monday 15th June – Impossible to Possible: what does nonviolence mean in Palestine today? Palestinian Christian Sami Awad, the Executive Director of the Holy Land Trust will lead discussions about nonviolence and its role in bringing a just and lasting…


Celebrating Oxford Connections

Wednesday 17th June – a reception with the Lord Mayor of Oxford to mark the opening of the Oxford-Palestine Photo Exhibition. 4pm Gallery, Museum of Oxford, Town Hall.Event run by Oxford Ramallah Friendship Association


Hope in a Time of Darkness

Thursday 18th June – a sermon by Bishop Angaelos of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the UK . In recent years, His Grace’s comments and views have frequently been sought on matters of human rights, civil liberties and international religious freedom,…


5 Broken Cameras

5 Broken Cameras Friday 19th June – This Oscar nominated film is a first-hand account of protests in Bi’lin, a West Bank village affected by the Israeli West Bank Barrier. The documentary was shot almost entirely by Palestinian farmer Emad…


Christians & Muslims: Peaceful Co-resistance in Palestine-Israel

Saturday 20th June – Iyad Burnat, of the Oscar Nominated film Five Broken Cameras, and Dr Richard McCallum, Sociologist at The Centre for Muslim-Christian Studies, will be speaking at the Friends of Sabeel UK Conference. 10am – 4.30pm; Church Mission…


Gaza 2014

Saturday 20th June – Dr Mads Gilbert and Dr Mohammed Maqadma (UNWRA) talk about their experiences of providing medial care in Gaza during the military assaults. Dr. Gilbert and Dr. Maqadma both worked in Gaza during Israeli assaults, including the…


Unlocking Palestine

Sunday 21st June – Unlocking Palestine: Moving Forward, at Bonn Square, Oxford The official closing ceremony of the ‘Palestine Unlocked’ festival. Speakers from many organisations will give short speeches, including members from the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, and Neturei Karta.

England and Wales: Al-Nakba re-imagined

walesenglandHow would you feel if:

  • You were Welsh,
  • and you lived in Wales,
  • and the English built a wall between England and Wales?

And if:

  • the English built a wall actually into Wales, dividing up villages and farms,
  • and stopped you from going to England, even to a nearby hospital?

And then:

  • built English towns inside Wales,
  • and joined their towns with roads that only they could use?

And then:

  • made it almost impossible for you to build houses in your country, and destroyed houses already there that they said were illegal?


Suppose the English did all this and forced it on you by military force, what would you feel then?

You would feel



Full of despair

The whole idea is ridiculous.

It would be so unjust.

So how do you think the Palestinians feel?

This scenario is suggested by Friends of Sabeel UK, and describes the situation using England/Wales instead of Israel/Palestine.  The feelings expressed here are a natural consequence of colonization and occupation.  This describes a present Palestinian reality, and it can be traced back to the 19th century political ideology and aspiration of European, secular Jews, that found expression in the events of May 15th 1948.

In a ‘meeting of ministers’ just before the British general election, the Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond, answered my question about this intractible problem.  Although he answered very well and showed knoweldge and integrity, he did admit to me that this one issue is the single biggest problem he faces.

This is the Day Israel celebrates as Independence, and the Palestinian Muslims and Christians as ‘Al-Nakba’ or catastrophe.  The whole world needs to turn this event from a catastrophe to a eucatastrophe, and in this regard, the Church, with her Resurrected Lord, must be at the forefront of this, instead of the eschatological horror show that is Christian Zionism.


A Palestinian Catastrophe is a World Catastrophe

AlexLeading up to (yet) another anniversary of the ‘catastrophe’, or ‘Al-Nakba’, of the Palestinian people following the events prior and up to and since 15th May 1948, I will be posting excerpts highlighting this tragic situation from various angles.   I have taken my lead from the excellent book ‘Palestinian Memories by Palestinian theologian Alex Awad, Dean of Bethlehem Bible College and pastor of international East Jerusalem Baptist Church:

“Many Westerners view the Arab-Israeli conflict through distorted lenses, and not surprisingly, their understandings of the realities on the ground is influenced by blurred, false or partial information.


Notably, numerous Christians in the United States and the West view the Arab-Israeli conflict from a perspective strongly influenced by popular sentiment relating to Biblical Israel and its place in the Promised Land and the way in which all of this relates to the political entity that is modern Israel. Pro-Israel groups such as the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), and the powerful Jewish-American lobby, have also had a significant effect on both Christian and secular perceptions.


These organizations influence – not control, but influence – many American institutions, including branches of government and the media. In addition, Hollywood has contributed much towards shaping Westerners’ distorted perceptions of the Middle East, with many popular films advancing the very worst stereotyped, comic-book portrayals of Arabs, be it the murderous terrorist, the “primitive” nomad, or the depraved oil sheik.


The events of September 11, 2001 have also resulted, perhaps understandably, in even greater polarization between the Arab and Western worlds.  All these factors, combined with the tragic history of the Jews in Europe over the centuries, culminating in the Halocaust, have molded the lenses through which Westerners usually view the Arab-Israeli conflict. The purpose of [my writing], then, is to offer an overview of the land, its history and its people, one that might challenge and alter the prevailing assumptions with which the conflict is commonly seen.”


I commend the book to you. alex_awad_2

Rev. Naim Ateek, the father of Palestinian Liberation Theology

This trip is very special as it is led by Rev. Naim Ateek, the father of Palestinian Liberation Theology and one of the cofounders of Sabeel.

Nine days in Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Nazareth, and the Sea of Galilee to meet Palestinians, visit holy sites, and experience the reality of Palestinians living under Israeli occupation: settlements, checkpoints, demolished homes and many more.

As a participant, you will also learn about the Bible and the Palestine Israel conflict and reflect on Bible readings through the eyes of Palestinian Christians.

Ateek Trip

DSC00428-1This is a picture of me taking a picture of the Separation Wall in Bethlehem in 2011 on a trip with Amos Trust.  It was on this trip that our group met Palestinian scholar Naim Ateek for a few hours as we discussed his mission and ministry. 

Al-Nakba Horror – Remembering 1948 and the ‘Trail of Tears’

nakbaMay 15th, 1948 – The Palestinian Catastrophe, known as ‘Al-Nakba’, also known as Israeli Independence Day.  One date, one land, two peoples, opposite ends of the spectrum – one people in deep trauma, the other in deep joy, a joy which is certainly tinged with a darkness of soul that must be continually pushed down and ignored.  It won’t stay there forever.  This anniversary is coming round again, and it is right to remind ourselves what is going on, to stand up for justice, for people, for God’s sake.

Alex Awad:

“Eighty percent of the Palestinians living in Palestine (what is now Israel – excluding the West Bank) fled out of fear or were forcibly evicted by the Zionists.  Most of those who were not pushed out lived on the periphery of the Zionist military action, particularly in the Galilee, and thus managed to stay put, primarily because a cease-fire was signed before they could be evicted.  It was essential, however, for the Zionists to prohibit those who left from returning to their homes, despite international pressure and UN resolutions, and despite Israel’s own promises, made in return for recognition and membership in the United Nations.”

UN Resolution 194

“Refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbours should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date, and those wishing not to return should be compensated for their property.”

“The 750,000 Palestinians who fled lost all their land and possessions in 1948 and became refugees.  Just as Jews in Europe were driven from their homes due to pogroms, Palestinians were forced to leave their homes and land because of Zionist ethnic cleansing.  In what may be termed a Middle Eastern “trail of tears”, refugees . . . trecked to Lebanon, Jordon, Syria, and other surrounding states.”



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Israel-Palestine in Perspective

Three really excellent sermons by Rev. Dr. Alasdair Black of Stirling Baptist Church, relating to the Israel-Palestine problem, given during the recent bombing campaign of Israel on Gaza.  They are entitled, ‘Putting the Israeli-Palestine Conflict in Perspective.’

Click here to go to the church web site or go straight to the sermon below

 27 July What kind of nation? Rev Dr. Alasdair Black
  3 August A Christian response to the Palestinian conflict  Rev Dr. Alasdair Black
 10 August The holocaust narrative in the Old Testament Rev Dr. Alasdair Black