Open Bethlehem (Discussion)
Leila Sansour and Sir Vincent Fean
Palestine/British director Leila Sansour in conversation with Sir Vincent Fean, former British Consul General, Jerusalem and director of the Balfour Project. Followed by Q and A with Angela Feeney.
About Leila Sansour
Leila Sansour is a Palestinian/British filmmaker with more than 24 years of experience working in television as a producer, director and writer. She is best known for her two feature documentaries released across cinemas in the UK and internationally to a high critical acclaim- “Jeremy Hardy vs The Israeli Army” 2003 and “Open Bethlehem” 2014.
Before moving into independent films, Leila worked as a producer on Al Jazeera’s leading documentary series “Encounter in Exile” and made several award winning shorts. She holds a masters degree in philosophy and fluently speaks Arabic, English, Russian and French. Parallel to the release of her latest film Leila founded an organisation called “Open Bethlehem”, a project that promotes global engagement with Bethlehem as a doorway into Palestine.
The film has resulted in the gathering of an extensive archive of the city. This archive is about to be launched as an online resource in collaboration with Sussex university under the name Planet Bethlehem. Leila has toured extensively with her films and has presented her work at cinemas, universities, the Royal Geographical society (UK), the British parliament, The Royal college of Defense (UK) and at the US congress.
About Sir Vincent Fean
Born in 1952, Vincent joined the Diplomatic Service in 1975 from Sheffield University, where he studied French and German. His 39 year diplomatic career took him to mainland Europe and the Arab world – Brussels, Paris and Valletta mixed in with Baghdad, Damascus, Tripoli and Jerusalem, from where he retired in 2014. He learned Arabic with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO). He was High Commissioner, Malta (2002-06), Ambassador, Libya (2006-10), and Consul-General, Jerusalem (2010-14).
Vincent chairs the Balfour Project charity (www.balfourproject.org), seeking to raise awareness concerning Britain’s past and present responsibilities in the Holy Land. The Balfour Project advocates British Government recognition now of the state of Palestine alongside Israel, on pre June 1967 lines. He also chairs the Libyan British Business Council. He is a trustee of British charity Medical Aid for Palestinians, co patron of the Britain Palestine Friendship and Twinning Network, and on the board of the Palestine Britain Business Council.
During his three years (2010-14) as Consul-General, Jerusalem, responsible locally for British Government relations with the Palestinians, Vincent focused on two key areas of work:
- to preserve and advance the prospect of two sovereign states, Israel and Palestine, coexisting in peace on the basis of the pre June 1967 borders and
- to strengthen British – Palestinian relations at all levels.
Since retiring in 2014, Vincent has kept in touch with political and economic developments in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, visiting when he can. His charity-related educational, fundraising and advocacy efforts are aimed at improving Palestinian daily life and the prospects for a just peace.
T2P has organised tours to the Palestinian West Bank, including East Jerusalem since 2011. Our aim is to help educate, inform and engage on the situation in Palestine and Israel.
On our West Bank tours, we stay in locally run hotels in Bethlehem and Ramallah, and the programme includes meeting everyone from local people, to politicians, to international agencies.
We are a not-for-profit company, and have taken over 500 people to see the situation for themselves. We always receive overwhelmingly positive feedback from our delegates. Our latest trip – in February 2020, just before the pandemic – was no exception. Here is what some of our visitors had to say:
Nadia Edmond said:
An intensive and powerful crash course in the Israeli-Palestine conflict. Provided a depth of understanding no amount of reading can match.
Linda Clarke said:
“The visit was very comprehensive and highly educational. It was well organised and planned. You will understand so much more about the Palestinian cause and be inspired by their bravery and endurance.”
Lesley Phillips added:
“Our Travel2Palestine trip was life changing and offered the opportunity to meet Palestinians living under the appalling conditions of occupation. Although the itinerary was “full on” our leaders managed to keep our group organised and extremely well informed throughout. I cannot thank
We hope you can also join us!