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Azkadinya’s Gaza fundraiser: London stands up in solidarity

Azkadinya’s Palestine fundraiser: An evening of solidarity for Gaza
3 min read
08 November, 2023
Amid intensifying violence in Gaza and the West Bank, cultural community platform, Azkadinya’s Palestine Solidarity Fundraiser rallies support.

"I'm struggling to find words at the moment," says Omar Hamaoui, co-founder of Azkadinya, as he addresses the crowd at the Palestine Solidarity Fundraiser hosted in East London on November 2.

Omar is a British-Lebanese poet, and along with his close friends, Talal Soufan, a Palestinian chef, and Ramil Bassil El-Sabban, a Lebanese multidisciplinary creative, started Azkadinya back in April 2022. The fourth member, Sabrina Beydoun, a Lebanese-American chef and activist, who joined after the inception.

The organisation is dedicated to empowering cultural practices from South West Asia and North Africa (SWANA), as well as garnering support through its online platform during times of crises. 

In November 2022, Azkadinya partnered with local charities on the ground in Lebanon to raise funds for grass route organisations working to enhance sustainable community empowerment. And now in the face of escalating violence and humanitarian crisis in Palestine, the team is working with Anera, a charity working with refugees affected by war in Palestine, Jordan and Lebanon, to provide families with urgent food and hygiene kits. 

On October 16, the international community watched as France, the UK, the US, and others voted against a UN Security Council resolution that called for a humanitarian ceasefire in Palestine.

This resolution also demanded the "release of all hostages, aid access, and safe evacuation of civilians." The decision to vote against this resolution has left many questioning the priorities and actions of these Western governments in the ongoing Israeli genocidal war against the Palestinian people. 

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The number of Palestinian killings has now surpassed 10,000 — including more than 4,000 children — highlighting the urgency of collective action and mobilisation.

In response to this crisis, the Azkadinya team organised an evening dedicated to the people of Palestine.

Through Palestinian culture, food, poetry, and live music, as well as a silent auction, attendees connected and engaged in important discussions with 100% of the profits from the fundraiser donated to Anera.

But most importantly, the event was a chance to come together to grieve and also mobilise as a community.

Songs from Palestine by Layla Assam

Layla Assam performed songs written during her time in Palestine

Layla Assam, a London-based Palestinian-Iraqi singer, performed heartfelt songs she had written during her time spent visiting her family in Tulkarem and Nablus. Her lyrics draw inspiration from her relationships with others, society and her sense of self. 

Jeanine Hourani’s inspiring PYM talk 

Jeanine talks about the importance of movement work in times of crisis

Jeanine Hourani is a Palestinian organiser for the Palestinian Youth Movement (PYM). She gave an inspiring talk on the importance of movement work and collective organising beyond just mobilisation in times of crisis.

“Organising is the answer to everything,” Jeanine says, “it’s how we maintain momentum beyond the headlines, it’s how we install revolutionary optimism in our communities, it’s how we heal, and it’s how we win.”

Find out more about upcoming actions with the PYM here.

Recordings from 7 October by Mo’min Swaitat

Mo’min shared recordings from The Freedom Theatre in the Jenin Camps

Mo'min Swaitat, a London-based Palestinian actor, director, DJ, producer, and radio host, shared harrowing sound recordings made while he was in Jenin, Ramallah, Tulkarm, and Jerusalem during the days following October 7.

Initially visiting Palestine to be part of a film, Mo’min borrowed a recording device from a journalist friend and documented a soundscape from The Freedom Theatre, a cultural centre in the Jenin Camp.

Check out Mo’min’s Palestinian archive on NTS here.

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Azkadinya's Palestine fundraiser was a powerful moment of unity, compassion, and support. Events like this remind us all that, in the face of adversity, solidarity can be a force for mobilisation.