London (QNN)- The Palestine Expo, which is the biggest Palestinian event in Europe has kicked off on Saturday at the Olympia in the British capital despite of Israeli feverish attempts to cancel it.
The event, which is a two-day celebration of Palestinian culture, history and arts, has attracted over 15,000 visitors in its debut in 2017.
Several journalists, politicians, human rights activists, professors, and scientists participated in the event.
The grandson of anti-apartheid hero Nelson Mandela has delivered a damning condemnation of “Israeli apartheid”, in a high-profile expression of solidarity between South Africans and Palestinians.
He also outlined what had constituted apartheid for black South Africans – from the creation of bantustan reservations to land expropriation and the daily assault on dignity.
“All these characteristics were present in apartheid Israel since its inception but have now been codified and given a constitutional status and expression by the Nation-State Law.
Ilan Pappe, a professor at the University of Exeter and director of the European Centre for Palestinian Studies, also blasted the mainstream media’s coverage of Israeli activities.
“They mention every word that they think attests to institutional anti-Semitism in the Labour Party but they would not mention what happened yesterday when 49 young Palestinians were shot by Israeli snipers. Neither did they mention the 52 who were shot last week.”
Human rights activist Issa Amro told attendees that the city had become the “micro-centre of apartheid, discrimination and segregation”.
“Don’t be afraid of ‘anti-Semitism’ because the message of this conference should be that criticising Israeli human rights violations is not anti-Semitism,” he said.
Palestinian journalist and author Ramzy Baroud – who had just returned from a 10-day solidarity tour to Kenya – told the event in the UK capital that a new front in Palestinian activity should be aimed at the developing world.
“One thing about Africa that I noticed is that we don’t have to contend with the tiny little bits of the discourse – nobody accuses you of anti-Semitism, it is not even on the agenda of African audiences: what they talk about there is national liberation.”
The event, organized by the British charity organization Friends of Al Aqsa FOA, was directly accused on Israeli media of antisemitism.
i24 News website repeated accusations against the FOA, which has been proved wrong and costed the Daily Mail 150,000 dollars.
A Zionist group called “UK Lawyers for Israel UKLFI” tried to cancel the event accusing it of having “anti-Israel and BDS bias”. they wrote to the Olympia London asking them to cancel the event. However their request was rejected.
Despite this, there has been continuous back and forth with UKLFI writing letters to “three of Olympia’s German co-owners…to alert them…that the organizers of the forthcoming exhibition at Olympia are major promoters of BDS against Israel”, according to a statement by the Zionist organization, which has been understood as a threat to use a controversial German pro-Israel law against the German co-owners of Olympia to intimidate them.
UKLFI said the co-owners were now putting pressure on the venue to either cancel the event, or to put pressure on FOA to “curb their advocacy of BDS [Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions] and hate speech”.
But FOA said in a statement that it had not been contacted by any “institutes, authorities or companies” regarding the event. Nor had UKLFI contacted it directly, it said.
In response to UKLFI’s failed efforts, Mandela slammed the zionist group for its intimidation tactics.
“We express our outrage and disgust at the intimidation tactics of the UK Lawyers for Israel.” he said in a statement published by Middle East Monitor. “We say to them and all who seek to deny our basic human rights such as freedom of expression – hands off BDS, hands off [the] Palestine Expo.”
Palestine Expo was launched two years ago. FOA then complained that the event had been targeted in a “smear campaign” by pro-Israel lobbyists. It says it nonetheless attracted 15,000 people in its first year.