Jerusalem Days organisers’ say festival is bridge between cultures


The annual Days of Jerusalem in Prague festival is currently under way in the Czech capital. Established four years ago with the support of Prague and Jerusalem city councils, it offers a selection of dance, music, visual and culinary arts from the various communities in Jerusalem. Last year, the festival sparked criticism when a group of world renowned public figures claimed that it helped legitimise Israel’s political strategy.

I spoke to one of its organisers, Jitka Pánek Jurková, who says the festival has always been a strictly non-political event:

“Our deepest persuasion is that culture is really the ultimate way how to bridge the differences between people of different backgrounds, ethnicities and religion and we are happy with the fact that it actually seems to be proven by the practice of the festival.

“One of the examples of that is that Muhammad Mughrabi, the rapper from East Jerusalem, who was here last year, is coming back again this year to perform with Israeli artists.

“The criticism is mostly coming from the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions Movement which is obviously against dialogue of any kind with Israeli artists, but our persuasion is that dialogue is necessary under any circumstance and art is the best way how to achieve that.”

One of the critics’ complaints was that the Palestinian artists not sufficiently represented. So have you made sure that the artists are equally represented this year?

Muhammad Mughrabi, photo: archive of the festival
“Well, from the first year of the festival we have been trying to provide floor to all the communities involved. For instance we use open calls to get artists, designers and musicians to join the festival, but it is obviously up to the artists if they want to participate.

“This year we have for instance increased the representation of Armenian community from Jerusalem and as I have already said, Muhammad Mughrabi is coming back. Also, as in the previous years, we have a wonderful chef from Jerusalem cooking together with an Israeli chef. So I believe we are doing all we can.”

What are the highlights of this years’ edition of Days of Jerusalem in Prague?

Days of Jerusalem in 2015, photo: archive of the festival
“One of the favourites is the music part of the programme, and it is of the best quality again this year. Adi Ulmansky, a real superstar, is coming to the festival this year. She was part of the first Days of Jerusalem in Prague four years ago and she is returning as a really big name of rap scene.

“Apart from the music, we have bunch of other workshop that are really interactive. We have calligraphic workshops where people will have an opportunity to try writing both in Hebrew and in Arabic and we also have dance workshops with the mentioned Armenian dancers.

“On Friday, we have a wonderful debate about women empowerment and there will be a novelty, which is a design market. We have brought ten young designers from Jerusalem who will be exhibiting together with ten young designers from Prague.”