Iyad Burnat: Political Activist and Author Reading

by Christina Butcher for OLY ARTS

Political activist and author Iyad Burnat is touring the Pacific Northwest this week to speak about his new book, Bil’in and the Nonviolent Resistance, which addresses peaceful protests in the West Bank and the author’s lifelong struggle for justice and freedom in Palestine.

Burnat’s reading at Traditions Fair Trade Café and World Folk Art is only one of four speaking events he’s scheduled to attend across Washington state this week, including venues in Seattle and Vashon. The author’s tour is sponsored by the Rachel Corrie Foundation for Peace & Justice, an Olympia-based nonprofit organization which fosters cooperation and support of grassroots efforts to ensure human rights and environmental, social, and economic justice across the globe. When asked about the importance of bringing cross-cultural talks about world issues to Olympia, administrative manager of the Rachel Corrie Foundation Allison Glidden said, “It’s been kind of a cross-community effort to bring him here…and we find it really important for speakers, especially speakers from Palestine, to be able to share their story and connect with people who may not be aware of the issues going on.”

Cindy and Craig Corrie, the parents of 23-year-old peace activist Rachel Corrie (killed in 2003 by Israel Defense Forces while demonstrating in a combat zone in the Gaza Strip), visited Burnat in Bil’in several times over the last decade. Despite being a relatively small Palestinian town in the West Bank, Bil’in has taken center stage as a major hub for nonviolent resistance in a decade-long struggle to stall Israeli encroachment and illegal settlement in the area. The town’s story was showcased in the 2013 Academy-Award-nominated documentary Five Broken Cameras, directed by Burnat’s brother, Emad Burnat, and Guy Davidi.

Currently, Burnat is the leader of the Bil’in Popular Committee and Friends of Freedom and Justice in the occupied West Bank. He is also the winner of the 2015 James Lawson Award for Excellence in the Practice of Nonviolence. Glidden spoke briefly about what it means for Olympians to be able to engage with Burnat here in the United States. “I feel like people are really eager and hungry for these connections…Just hearing different perspectives and different viewpoints has the possibility to really engage you with a whole new world perspective. And I think that’s really important to move forward and stand in solidarity with others, because you can’t really stand in solidarity with them without understanding what they’re going through.”

What: Iyad Burnat author reading

When:  7-9 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 22

Where: Traditions Fair Trade Café and World Folk Art,
300 Fifth Ave. SW, Olympia

How much: free (donations encouraged)

Learn more: 360-754-3998 | Rachel Corrie Foundation

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