“What Palestine brings to the world. » The title of the exhibition* on offer in Paris since May 31 sets the tone. Imagined by Jack Lang, head of the Arab World Institute (IMA) since 2013, the formula does not displease Elias Sanbar. The Palestinian ambassador to UNESCO, curator of the exhibition, claims that the Palestinian Authority must develop its “soft power. » He explains to Point this desire to develop “cultural diplomacy”.

Update: The exhibition is called “What Palestine Brings to the World.” Wouldn’t it have been better to title it “What the World Brings to Palestine”? The works of art presented there are, in fact, the vast majority of donations from international artists…

The other spaces mainly feature Palestinian artists. Exhibiting their work at the Arab World Institute makes sense, because this institution maintains a fruitful dialogue with the team that promotes our project for a national museum of modern Palestinian art. In such an exhibition, one should not be surprised that the world at large is very present.

The situation of the Palestinians since 1948 has increased the population’s thirst for culture and education. Because knowledge is the only thing you can take with you into exile.

We consider that culture is a bulwark and a fundamental tool for achieving equality. But equality is, from my point of view, the most important element there is. The term is at the center of the beautiful motto of the French Republic “Liberty, equality, fraternity”. Equality is an obsession for us in the same way as culture, which is a formidable vector of equality, and an essential lever to be able to remain audible.

Some Palestinian authors have chosen Hebrew to write. This is the case of the writer Sayed Kashua. What do you think ?

Palestinians who are citizens of Israel speak Hebrew. But almost all Palestinian artists, even those with Israeli passports, use Arabic. The case you mention is, in my opinion, part of a Palestinian expression within Israeli culture.

Coming back to the title of your exhibition, what does Palestine bring to the world?

Jack Lang came up with the idea for this title. I really like it because it gets a lot of reactions. To answer your question, I would be tempted to tell you that it is up to the visitor to decide, given what we show them, what answer should be given to this question.

But what would you say, as an individual?

Once again, I want to reiterate that I am not in a race for labels. I am Arab, like it or not. It’s my culture, it’s my identity. But I am also a thousand things more. Identities are multiplicities. I am Arab, I am Palestinian, I am from Galilee, I am of French culture. I come from a Christian family, but I am of secular culture, and also, let’s say it, influenced by Jewish and Muslim influences. But my culture is also jazz! This multiplicity is absolutely fundamental, and has unfortunately been in decline since the emergence of nation-states. It is necessary to safeguard at all costs what makes up the cultural diversity of a country, the musical variety of the peoples who make it up…

Isn’t it ultimately this spirit of multiplicity, this cultural mosaic which, as you understand it, underpins the Palestinian identity which would be the contribution of the culture you are talking about?

I think so. But I invite visitors to come and concretely measure this richness, this cultural diversity, in the light of what we show in the exhibition.

* What Palestine brings to the world, until November 19 at the Arab World Institute, in Paris. More information on the IMA website.