Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is the aim of this festival?
To celebrate the life, history, and culture of the people of Palestine, as well as to bring home the realities of Palestinian life under occupation today. We also want to highlight valuable ongoing Oxford-Palestine links.

How often does this festival take place?
This is the first year the festival will be running but we hope it will turn into an annual event.

What if I want to help with the festival?
Please do, we can always use more hands, hearts and heads! Contact the Oxford Palestine Festival Group using this contact form to let us know how and when you could help.

Are there costs for the events?
Some of the events, such as film screenings and performances, will be ticketed, yes. But most events are free. Please check our events page for more detail.

Is it easy to get to the event locations?
Please check the events pages for maps and transport advice.

What will you do with my donation?
All donations will go towards the running of the festival – from events hire to paying performers and speakers to participate in the festival. All organisers and stewards are unpaid volunteers.

Where is Palestine?
Historic Palestine refers to the land between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea, bounded by Lebanon in the north and Egyptian Sinai in the south. The land of Palestine has witnessed many occupiers and empires coming and going over the thousands of years of its history. The current State of Israel was established in 1948 on just over half the land of historic Palestine [see map below].

The parts of historic Palestine which are currently not part of the Israeli state and are still populated by a majority Palestinian population are: Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem [see map below]. When talking about ‘Palestine’ and a Palestinian state, it is to these territories that most media, governments and organisations are referring.

Fading Map of Palestine

Fading Map of Palestine

Who are the Palestinians?
The Palestinians are the indigenous population of the land of Palestine. Since the birth and spread of Islam in the 7th century CE, the majority of Palestinians have been Muslim living alongside significant minorities of Christians and Jews.

Where are the Palestinians?
Outside Palestine: Since the ‘nakba’ (catastrophe) of 1948, when 760,000 Palestinians fled or were expelled from Palestine and the new Israeli state during the war of that year, many Palestinians have been living in refugee camps in neighbouring Lebanon, Jordan, and Syria. Lebanon now holds around 450,000 Palestinian refugees, while around 2million Palestinian refugees reside in Jordan. Syria was home to over 560,000 Palestinian refugees before the Syrian uprising began in 2011.

Within Palestine: The Gaza Strip is home to around 1.5million Palestinians, the vast majority (1.2million) of whom are refugees from either 1948 or 1967 when there was a second significant population transfer. Around 2.5million Palestinians live in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, about half of whom are refugees. There are Palestinian refugee communities in innumerable other states but the above are the most significant.

Why have you chosen to celebrate Palestinian history and culture rather than any other?
Because it is an ancient land with a fascinating history. Although the indigenous population of Palestine has lived there continuously for hundreds of years, there are concerted efforts to delete their history and culture and sometimes to appropriate it into Israeli histories (such as Waitrose’s recent attempt to present Palestinian cuisine as Israeli). We think it is important to counteract these efforts by raising awareness of the history and culture of the people of Palestine.

Why are you not including Israel or Israeli history in this festival?
Because it’s a festival celebrating the people of Palestine, not the people of Israel – a separate state. That would be like including France in celebrations of St. George’s Day.

But surely their histories and peoples intersect.
Yes, so do the histories of France and Germany and Britain’s history. That doesn’t mean we have to include half the countries in Europe in any celebration of British culture.

So would you be happy for there to be an Oxford festival celebrating Israeli history, culture and life?
Yes, why not.

What would you say to people who accused you of anti-semitism?
That they must be either confused or determined to confuse others! Let’s be clear: anti-semitism is bias against people who are Jewish. Like all decent people, we totally reject anti-semitism. But Zionism – the political movement that led to the creation of the state of Israel – is not Judaism. There’s a big difference between criticising a State, and stereotyping all adherents of a religion. As it happens, many Zionists are Christians; and many Jews reject Zionism as a settler-colonialist movement which does not represent them. There will be anti-Zionist Jews contributing to Palestine Unlocked. Come and hear what they have to say!

Further Reading:

Is Palestine a State?

What are ‘settlements’?

Is Gaza ‘occupied’?