Palestine Expo hailed a success as more than 10,000 attend two-day London event
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Tuesday July 11 2017
Thousands of people attended the Palestine Expo hosted in London last weekend, despite fierce attempts by pro-Israel lobby groups to have the event cancelled.
Europe’s largest pro-Palestine event, held over five floors of the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre in Westminster, combined art galleries, exhibitions, food and art stalls, along with numerous lectures from academics and activists aimed at raising attention towards the situation of the Palestinian people.
According to the organisers, at least 10,000 people attended the conference over the two days.
For Mohamed Abu Dayyah, president of Olive, a British-Palestinian youth organisation that aims to highlight the right of return for Palestinians, Palestine Expo was about promoting Palestinian culture and heritage.
“This event is about saying that Palestine has not been and never will be forgotten. It is about showing our presence and raising awareness about Palestinian culture no matter.”
Complaints by lawyers of the pro-Israel group Jewish Human Rights Watch, which claimed that the event was aimed at promoting anti-Semitic and extremist views, meant there was some uncertainty whether Palestine Expo would go ahead.
On 6 July, several Conservative MPs and ex-servicemen had called on Prime Minister Theresa May to intervene in order to prevent the use of government buildings by “groups which oppose our values and ideals”.
Those allegations were rapidly refuted by the organisers and participants.
Ismail Adam Patel, chair of event organisers Friends of Al-Aqsa (FOA), said ahead of the event: “It is clear to anyone who looks at the Palestine Expo schedule of events that this is a diverse event, supported by many with speakers who are Israeli, Palestinian and British, and of Muslim, Jewish and Christian beliefs.
“We are witnessing a desperate and underhanded tactic being used to undermine Palestine Expo,” he added, accusing opponents of the event of running a “deliberate smear campaign”.
David Miller, professor of sociology at the University of Bath, said the event was a visible show of public support for the Palestinian cause.
“The significance of this conference is that it brings the issue of Palestine on to the agenda,” Miller told Middle East Eye.
“People see that there are thousands and thousands of people who are interested in Palestine and human rights,” added Miller, who spoke at the event on the role of UK-funded charities that support Zionist organisations in the establishment of illegal settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.