Hello and welcome to the Cafe Palestine UK blog!
Firstly, thank you for taking the time to read this post. You are probably reading this because your curiosity has brought you here from Twitter or Facebook. So what is Cafe Palestine all about?
I have to give credit a brilliant woman in Germany, Gabi, who inspired me when I went over to perform with my dabke group, Al Zaytouna Dance Theatre, in Germany and Switzerland last November.
Gabi is part of a forum called Cafe Palestine, with bases in Zurich, Freiburg and Stuttgart. The idea is that people come together at a venue (often donated by the owner at no charge) on a regular basis to try traditional Palestinian cuisine and learn more about the history, culture and politics of Palestine.
It dawned on me that despite all the different events held in London in support of the Palestinian cause (which I commend), there didn't seem to be anything that was available to the average Joe on the street who may not know much about the region. Indeed, the current 'scene' is awash with people who have in-depth knowledge on Palestine's history and political situation past and present. This can be intimidating to someone who is a 'beginner'.
I have many friends who often ask me questions like 'I'm ashamed to admit I don't know much about the conflict - can you tell me more?' or 'what is Palestinian cuisine like?' - So I wanted to adapt the idea of Cafe Palestine and bring to the UK an open, welcoming forum for people to come together and learn more.
Palestine has much to offer - I am very proud of my cultural heritage - however music, poetry, art, cuisine, dance and film too often get overlooked in favour of media reporting on conflict in the region. Awareness and understanding of the conflict is extremely important, but it is also important that Palestine be celebrated as well.
That's where Cafe Palestine UK comes in. People from all backgrounds will be welcome to come, have authentically cooked Palestinian food and drink at a fair price, and be treated to anything from a musical performance, to a film screening or lecture on Palestine.
Questions will very much be encouraged - there is no such thing as a stupid question! Any money raised will be given to Palestinian charities and most importantly I want people to have a fun and engaging evening.
Keep an eye on here for more details about our first upcoming event. In the meantime, if you have any feedback or suggestions, please comment below.