Jaffa hosts Palestinian culture festival

"Culture is not something to be afraid of."

Jaffa festival (photo credit: Ben Hartman)
Jaffa festival
(photo credit: Ben Hartman)
Tourists joined local residents in Jaffa’s Old City on Friday and Saturday as the city played host to a two-day festival celebrating Palestinian culture.
The Palestinian folklore and culture festival was held at the Elsaraya Theater in Jaffa’s Old City, and included booths selling traditional foods and arts & crafts.
Inside the theater’s cobblestone hallways, a book fair featured books in Arabic, English and Hebrew, as well as a bazaar offering traditional Palestinian clothes.
Friday evening’s events included a performance of the play Cappuccino in Ramallah and a showing of Jaffa, a film directed by Israeli Eyal Sivan. Saturday saw the screening of Haemet, a short film directed by Ajami director Skandar Copti, and of the movie Sofer.
One of the festival’s organizers, Jaffa resident Muhammad Jabali, said it was held out of a desire to increase the presence of Arab culture in the Old City.
“We want to increase the cultural presence of local Jaffans in the Old City. We are the only Old City in the Middle East where there are no Arabs. Every year, the gentrification and development pushes us further and further from the sea, and eventually all of us will be in Lod and Ramle.”
Jabali added that celebrations of Palestinian culture don’t have to be relegated to the West Bank but can find a home for expression in the Tel Aviv area as well.
“One of the ideas for the festival was to return Jaffa to being one of the centers of Palestinian culture. We wanted to show that it’s possible to have a Palestinian cultural festival in the Old City of Jaffa without having to be afraid of how it will be viewed.
“Culture is not something to be afraid of.”