The inaugural Tottenham Palestine Literature Festival was a nervous date on the calendar for some: the riots are still fresh in the memory and was there ever a topic more inclined to incite conflict than the Israel/Palestine issue? But there was not a whisper of disturbance on West Green Road last night as I headed towards the talk I was attending. Just groups of men, catcalling at womenfolk – and I have to say I had no idea Tottenham and Damascus had such striking similarities!

I was heading to a talk by Peter Kosminsky on his Channel 4 film ‘The Promise‘, which was first shown in February this year. It sets the current Israel/Palestinian conflict against the aftermath of World War II in what was then a Palestine plagued by Zionist terrorism, and it does so masterfully for a British audience. Eleven years in the making, it covers significant events in the formation of the state of Israel (such as the King David Hotel bombing) and juxtaposes them with Palestinian terrorism today, all seen through the eyes of British teenager and her Jewish friend’s family. And it is beautifully made.

Kosminksy spoke of the difficulties of filming with a mixed Palestinian/Israeli cast and crew that, in one particularly memorable incident, caused an actor to quit over what he was being asked to do. Filming entirely on location in Israel meant the crew were mainly Israeli Jews, with some Israeli Arabs; some had never before worked with someone from the opposing community. This is a film that should be seen by every person who is touched by this perpetual problem – it’s cultural diplomacy at its strongest, and if a solution is ever to be accepted by the peoples of these lands, it can only come from within. One film can’t shift prejudices, no amount of films or theatre or music could, but they educate, and that is the foundation of change.

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