Inad Theater for Culture and Arts held a press conference to launch the activities of the second International Mukhur Festival, discussing the latest developments and details, particularly the obstacles imposed by the occupation on prominent artists like the famous Iraqi artist Ilham Madfai, preventing them from entering Palestinian territories as part of its ongoing war against everything Palestinian, especially culture.
Dr. Ihab Bessiso, a member of the festival organizing committee, opened the press conference at the Bright Tower Hotel in Bethlehem to announce the start of the festival's activities, which will continue for four days. It is a diverse festival with various activities that reflect the diversity of Palestinian culture and arts. It also signifies the Palestinian cultural openness to both the Arab and international dimensions through multiple partnerships established over a long period to ensure the success of this year's international aspect of the festival.
Dr. Bessiso emphasized that Israeli occupation remains the primary obstacle to Palestinian culture and arts, as it is for all aspects of Palestinian society. The occupation has consistently attempted to disrupt communication between Palestine and its Arab and international counterparts. However, all of these Israeli attempts are destined to fail, as the Palestinian people are determined to maintain cultural and artistic openness to convey the Palestinian national message, which the occupation has tried to erase over the years but has consistently failed to achieve its goals.
Bessiso noted that the festival aims to convey a clear Palestinian message: despite all of the occupation's obstacles and settlement harassment, Mukhur can carry the message of the land, place, memory, and geography to spaces that can challenge the policies of occupation and settlement.
Speakers at the festival, organized by the Anad Center, emphasized that Israeli measures would not deter them from continuing the Mukhur festival, which includes over 25 cultural, artistic, and sports events, all of which aim to reaffirm the Palestinian right and presence in the targeted Mukhur lands.
In this context, Palestinian artist Khaled Al-Maswar, director of Inad Theater for Culture and Arts, stated that last year's first edition of the Mukhur Festival celebrated the 35th anniversary of its founding during the first intifada, aiming to affirm the Palestinian cultural identity that the occupation sought to erase. Since its inception, the theater has been working to strengthen Palestinian cultural life in all its aspects.
Al-Maso added that the second Mukhur Festival has taken on an international Arab dimension, renewing its activities to continue promoting culture and challenging the occupation. It remains committed to strengthening its community through events aimed at empowering the Palestinian community in general and Beit Jala in particular, especially its farmers. He stressed that the festival's events take place on the ancestral lands of Beit Jala in the Mukhur region, which is targeted by the Israeli occupation. Therefore, it is essential to support the farmers who continue to protect their land and live on it as their ancestors did.
Al-Maso affirmed that Anad Theater, along with various partners and supporters, cannot continue its work without the participation of its community in the diverse and varied events aimed at strengthening the Palestinian community's resilience on the land and living and enjoying the natural environment and the flavors of Palestinian heritage.
Supporting organizations and participants in the festival emphasized that the festival carries multiple messages to the Palestinian community, and therefore, it must be supported as a symbol of Palestinian resilience.
Reem Qaraqe, the director of the Southern District for Individual Services at Bank of Palestine , stated that Palestine Bank collaborates with various Palestinian institutions across all regions of the country on strategic partnership programs in various sectors, including culture and the arts. Therefore, the bank has offered its strategic partnership for the second International Mukhur Festival.
Qaraqe added that the festival includes various activities and programs that the bank sees as part of its mission to consolidate and protect Palestinian land. It encompasses cultural and sports activities, promoting the products of farmers, and supporting their economy by promoting these traditional and heritage products. The festival also encourages domestic and international tourism during its event days, thus contributing to economic activity in Beit Jala.
Qaraqe expressed her satisfaction with this festival, which is expected to achieve great success through its diverse activities, including artistic performances, theatrical plays, singing segments, and multiple events that reflect Palestinian culture, promote it, and wish the festival's events success.