Speakers at an event in Manchester have called for greater exposure for Palestinian artists.
The ‘Breaking the Occupation of the Mind: Arts and Culture Palestine’ event was organised to celebrate Palestinian culture and saw a sold-out crowd descend on the Manchester Museum last Saturday.
There were many topics discussed on the night, including the lack of pieces of Palestinian art that are seen and recognised worldwide.
Beesan Arafat, an art expert, told the audience: “Palestinian art should be pushed forward, otherwise nothing will change.”
This sentiment was backed up by James Walmsley, a regular visitor to Palestine who described the work as “world-class” and his belief that art has the potential to shape the world, which is why he would like Palestinian art to be bought to the United Kingdom.
They were two of the 10 speakers who spoke on the night, where all profits made were donated to the Hoping Foundation, a charity which supports Palestinian children.
Organiser and campaigner Muhammad Ibrahim said: “These events are never up North, they are always in the South.
“There is a huge appetite for events such as this, 220 people attended on the night and the museum was over capacity.”
He added: “There were a very diverse panel of speakers with people from Jewish backgrounds, Israeli backgrounds, Palestinian and arts backgrounds. That reflected in the audience as well.
“The event was open to all and there were no restrictions on who could come.”
However, Raphi Bloom, co-chair of the North West friends of Israel group, said he had no knowledge of the event taking place and that he would have been “happy to go anywhere to present Israel’s side of the story.”
He also disagreed with the claims of rapper and pro-Palestinian campaigner Lowkey, who used the event to criticise the British government, he said: “In 2017 UK firms sold £230 million in arms to Israel, up 256% from the £90 million sold in 2016.”
This claim was described as “ludicrous” by Mr Bloom who believes “Israel supplies weapons to the RAF and the United Kingdom does not arm.”