So, we are not quite up and running for 2024 yet but we have a date: 22nd June and 23rd June. Please save it. And we have a theme: Land and Food, which we mention briefly, below.
Someone who is up and running right here right now is longtime supporter and co-organiser, Katelyn.
Katelyn was so keen to enter the 2024 Palestine Marathon she got number 7. But the Palestine Marathon has been postponed, so she is pounding our Sheffield concrete and will run a solidarity marathon on March 2nd, raising money to contribute to this year’s BIG SING for Palestine: please help her smash her target of £1500.
This year, as the land is being pounded, buildings destroyed, people crushed and dispersed and civil society crumbling, it seems looking hard at land justice and food sovereignty is essential.
How can Palestinians protect their food system from field to fork; and generate economic benefits through food exports? Today it seems further away than ever. In Gaza which is overrun by the IDF and in the West Bank which is under constant attack from settlers, the challenges are massive.
We hope to have representatives from Via Campesina and other experts in Palestinian food to guide us through the issues. And we will have a community meal in the park on Saturday evening. Details to come soon!
As we move to Autumn, we celebrate this year’s midsummer small park BIG RUN with a short film.
Inspired by the wonderful words of Mahmoud Soliman, the poetry and courage of Feryal and Arwa in Hebron and helped by the stunning photography of Ahmad Al Baz, Trees and Sumud is a short film paying homage to Palestinian trees and Palestinian resilience.
Arwa and Feryal sit by their tree resolute in its defence:
Thanks the the Vanguard Video Unit in Gaza for producing this film. It interleaves footage of our event in Sheffield and the wonderful events in Gaza that took place at the same time: one by the children at Never Stop Dreaming Association in Khan Younis, the other at New Horizons Children’s Centre based at Nusseirat Refugee Camp.
The children in Khan Younis are remembering their friend Lian Al Shaier, who was 12 when she was killed by an Israeli bombing raid last year. You will see them holding her picture.
As in all past years, we surround the run with events that we hope raise awareness about Palestine and give voice to Palestinians. This year was no exception with talks in the Palestinian Voices tent.
Before these talks, on Saturday, we were joined by Mahmoud Zwahre, activist and academic who helped plant a solidarity tree in Meersbrook Park.
This was accompanied by Catherine reading a poem, Trees Behind The Fence, translated by our friend and comrade Arwa, who sadly died during covid but spent many days and hours, as Catherine explains in this video, defending her land from Israeli settler diggers trying to force her, as a Palestinian, off her land.
Our Trees Behind the Fence On the day when our trees were cut On the day when our land was fenced in They gave me all sorts of excuses. They said to me your trees are not legal Your trees are not citizens No religion forbids killing these trees. I said, Oh God: Our Trees after today won’t bloom behind the fence. Our sky after today won’t rain behind the fence. But there they are now; putting out new shoots, coming to life again and I see the beautiful smile tempting me the almond trees calling me, saying “Get angry, be upset but don’t stay crying for me.”
There they are now. Sending me a fragrant greeting every morning. Oh our trees behind the fence I thought that being fenced in would suffocate the perfume of your blossom. I thought that being cut would be the end of you. There you are now blossoming again and sending out new shoots. Your roots in the depths of the earth are not destroyed by being fenced in or cut. Your roots in the depths of the earth are strong enough to defy hurricanes .
Peace to you a thousand times our trees behind the fence God bless you and protect you from all evil and wickedness.
Feryal Abu Haikal (translated by Arwa Abu Haikal) Tel Rumeida\ Hebron Palestine.
You can see from these ‘heatmaps’ when we most need help ensuring the run is supported and safe. Click on the images in the slides to get a full screen image.
Heatmap for marshals. Click to view.
Heatmap for runners
You might not think it but signing up to take part at night time or very early morning is exciting, fun and invigorating . Owls, foxes and supportive marshals can be spotted making all sorts of noises, from hoots to hoorays!
small park BIG RUN is a community solidarity event in support of Palestinian people. For a day, in the heart of Sheffield, Palestine is visible – in spite of continuous efforts that would encourage us to forget Palestine and silence voices in support of Palestinian people.
So, we are really pleased to have a programme that has Palestinian voices loud and clear both on 3pm Saturday afternoon and 10 am Sunday morning. (Free coffee and cake on Sunday morning!)
On Saturday, we are privileged to be able to welcome Mahmoud Zwahre who has been tireless (and brave) in his activism to defend Palestinian farmers.
Mahmoud will be helping us plant a native tree in solidarity with these hard pressed famers close to Meersbrook Hall; this will be followed by a talk in the Palestinian Voices tent.
Mahmoud will show us how Palestinian farmers bear the brunt of the environmental destructions perpetrated by Israel whether – this is uprooting of trees or denial of access to land or water. he will talk to us too about his campaign to plant native trees in Palestine to replace the ones uprooted by settlers.
Just as Palestinian farmers have to confront, daily incursions, so Palestinian women have to confront climate and environmental change. Dima Alshami will follow Mahmoud and discuss what climate justice means for Palestinian women.
Dima is a Rotheram-based Palestinian student.
Finally, our own Jawad Qasrawi, ran at the Palestine Marathon event in March this year. He will talk to us about what this means to him, his attempts to see his father’s village and meeting up with his family. Bring a hanky!
Look out for the Palestinian voices tent! For times see the programme.
As always we will be having a celebration at the end of small park BIG RUN – the Lord Mayor, congratulations to the 24 hour runners and all the people who have helped, and as always a special zoom call with children and childcare workers in Khan Younis, Gaza, at a centre where the money your raise goes.
This year we will be doing something really special.
We want you to feel the joy of singing with lots of people and we want the children and their carers to hear us say loud and clear they are not forgotten, that we think about them and we shout out for them.
But for this to work really well as a broadcast, we need your help now to raise £2000 in order to have the right technology and make this a truly memorable event.