Leichhardt-Hebron festival raises funds for Palestine

One of the Hebron kindergartens supported by Leichhardt Friends of Hebron. Photo: Hebron Leichhardt/Facebook

Palestine solidarity campaigners in the Sydney suburb of Leichhardt are celebrating raising more than $5000 for kindergartens in the South Hebron Hills at their annual Refugee Week Festival of Friendship on June 18.

Leichhardt Friends of Hebron’s festival attracted several hundred visitors to a photographic exhibition, indoor market, musical performances, a screening of the film Return to Gaza and a panel debate on boycotts, divestment and sanctions against the state of Israel.

The proceeds will be used to renovate and run kindergartens in the South Hebron Hills, in Palestinian communities that regularly come under attack from extremist settlers and which are severely economically marginalised.

Organisers stress that the event is not just about humanitarian relief, but also has an important role in highlighting the plight of Palestinian refugees, the largest and longest-standing refugee community in the world.

Many Palestinian refugees still live under poor conditions in camps established in the West Bank, Gaza, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria in 1948-9 after the war, which lead to the foundation of the state of Israel.

Others remain as “internally displaced persons” within the West Bank and Israel.

Sonia von Bornemann, convenor of Leichhardt Friends of Hebron said: “Some commentators, such as Sydney Morning Herald political editor,] Peter Hartcher, have recently claimed that the rights of Palestinian refugees are an “old narrative” that should be set aside."

“The images and messages we saw and heard at the festival show that over six million Palestinian refugees are very much a live issue, and that their fundamental rights are still being denied by Israel and the international community.”

Leichhardt Friends of Hebron are planning a number of future events, including a follow-up screening of Return to Gaza and a trivia quiz night.

[For more details visit www.hebronleichhardt.wordpress.com ]