Israeli group plans Burning Man-style festival in West Bank

Israeli group plans 'insulting' Burning Man-style festival at settlements across occupied West Bank
3 min read
17 February, 2020
Diverging from Burning Man's official counterpart in Israel, a group of Israelis are planning on holding their own festival on settlements in the West Bank.
The event is scheduled to take place on Israeli settlements in the West Bank [AFP]
An Israeli group is planning a Burning Man-style event in settlements in the occupied West Bank, according to a Sunday report by The Guardian, causing dismay among Palestinians and festival enthusiasts alike.

The Burning Man festival, a US-based event held annually in Nevada's Black Rock Desert, aims to create a "temporary metropolis dedicated to community, art, self-expression, and self-reliance", according to the festival's website.

A group of "burners" who broke away from Midburn -Burning Man's official partner in Israel - decided to organise the Dead Sea Burn, an unofficial festival. This was due to Midburn's difficulty finding a desert location for its event.

According to The Guardian, Dead Sea Burn has already received approval by Israel's military for up to 15,000 people to assemble on land near the border with Jordan, the Dead Sea and Jericho, a Palestinian city.

The event is scheduled to take place on Palestinian territory claimed by Israeli settlers.

Local Palestinian residents and authorities were not consulted, but the group said it had extended an invitation to Palestinians, which was not well received.

"The bad side is fighting about the area and arguing with each other and making the gap deeper," Yaron Ben Shoshan, a joint-lead on Dead Sea Burn, told The Guardian.

"The other way of reacting is to say, 'we have an opportunity here to show our leaders that we as people can communicate and enjoy ourselves together'."

Dead Sea Burn's organisers said West Bank Palestinians who are planning on attending the festival must first secure permission from the Israeli army.

The Guardian quoted Palestine Liberation Organization secretary general Saeb Erakat, a Jericho native, said the invitation to Palestinians was "an insulting statement that unveils the colonialist mentality of the organisers".

"So they come to occupied territory, to an area where the occupation negates Palestinian development through a network of checkpoints, roadblocks and closed military zones, where our natural resources are stolen and our rights in general are negated, and then they tell us 'you can attend' in a closed military area," said Erakat.

The event was also criticised by Israeli "burners", who argued it does not uphold Burning Man's 10 principles, which include community-based tenets such as civic responsibility, communal effort and radical inclusion.

Midburn, which has maintained an apolitical stance, has denied affiliation to Dead Sea Burn.

"Clearly 'radical inclusion' cannot be upheld at this burn, as it excludes members of our own community who will not attend out of political discomfort, not to mention the Palestinian population who will not be permitted to attend," Danna Colin, one of the heads of Midburn's art department, told The Guardian.

Dead Sea Burn is scheduled to take place in April 2020, pending Israeli police permissions.

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