Friday, June 21, 2013

Palestinian Embassy and Nakba Museum opens in Bristol UK

The first Palestinian Embassy and Nakba Museum outside London is now open for business! Last Saturday 15 June in an action packed day which drew in large crowds of supporters from Bristol, London and around the UK…the four floors of ARC, a historic building  on Broad Street in Bristol, was draped with the Palestine flag and filled with hundreds of photographs, historic artifacts, and drawings and paintings, including a Banksy, the famous local artist, AND including live links to Gaza and the West Bank, which will be available day and night from now on for our brothers and sisters in Palestine.

The Palestinian Ambassador, Professor Manuel Hassassian together with the mayor of Bristol Cllr Frank Choudhury cut the green ribbon in front of the building, together with the symbolic Nakba key,  and the day of action began, including live video link ups to Gaza and the West Bank. The first picture the Ambassador stopped at was a donation from the Estate of Bishop Gobat of Jerusalem, from the 1850’s, depicting Omar’s Mosque in Jerusalem, ..’That is where I live in the Old City’ he exclaimed and when he discovered it was a present from Pam Hardyment, a descendant..she was delighted  to tell the tale of the famous Bishop Gobat…’Oh I know of him, he is legendary, my uncles and other members of my family went to the famous Gobat school, which is still there, and many of the famous politicians in Palestine from the 1950’s attended it.’

Live video links to Gaza and the West Bank were played, with harrowing stories of orphans and imprisonment and devastation; it must have been some comfort to the Palestinians that people from all over the UK were gathered together at the new Embassy and Museum, dedicated to their struggle for self determination. Eddie who runs the ARC building said of the Palestine Nakba and 65 years of oppression and occupation,  ‘this is one of the biggest injustices of our lifetime’. Video testimony echoed that. Now the Palestinians will always have a home in Bristol. ‘This is an exciting opportunity for the people of Bristol to learn more about Palestine, its history, culture and struggle in its fight for justice’ said Rita, the tireless organizer of the event.

Pam Hardyment echoed her sentiments, ‘Just as schoolchildren visit and honour Holocaust Museums throughout the world so the hope is education authorities will seize their chance to organize visits to the Nakba Museum, with its historical depiction of refugees, demolitions, injustices and to find out how they can discover the truth about a sordid period in our British history.’

‘This is just the beginning‘, said Rita, ‘may there be more embassies and museums like this throughout the world’ as we tucked into dreamy felafels and salads - ‘there is  an onsite café and bar and evenings of music and traditional Palestine dance, and many many speakers and events. We want everybody to be involved and welcome any help to keep      the museum and embassy open every day’. There is a bicycle donation center on the top floor, with proceeds going to Palestine. There was even a naked cyclist rally past the door as we took a break from the jam packed day. Proof that Bristol is truly the home of activism and caring individuals!

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