Tuesday, May 09, 2006

HOPING auction for Palestinian kids

(L) Tilda Swinton

At first sight there might seem to be little connection between supermodel Kate Moss and the Palestinian cause. But a kiss from Kate Moss is just one of the ‘promises’ up for auction at a benefit dinner in support of Palestinian refugee children, to be held at Annabel’s club in central London on Monday May 15. Tickets for the dinner and auction are £200 each.

The event is organised by the HOPING Foundation (HOPING is the acronym of ‘Hope and Optimism for Palestinians in the Next Generation’). By far the majority of the funds the foundation raises go directly to community projects for children in refugee camps. The foundation’s most recent grant paid for a specially-equipped bus to transport of disabled children located in refugee camps and villages in the Nablus area.

HOPING’s trustees are fashion designer Bella Freud, Palestinian academic and activist Karma Nabulsi, and writer and film maker Harriet Vyner. Another key figure in HOPING is Jemima Khan, the ex-wife of the Pakistani politician and former cricketer Imran Khan. Jemima is a member of HOPING’s committee, along with 12 other prominent women.

Oliver Barker of Sotheby’s auction house will present the benefit auction, and the ‘promises’ will presented by actor Rupert Everett. The ‘promises’ include the reading of a story to a child by actress Tilda Swinton, a star of the film “Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.” Another ‘promise’ is a cricket lesson with Imran Khan. Also being auctioned is the ‘promise’ of a game of golf with Jemima Khan’s boyfriend, film star Hugh Grant, with Jemima acting as caddy.

The other ‘promises’ are a walk around the Tate Modern gallery with artist brothers Jake and Dinos Chapman plus Paul Simonon of punk group The Clash; a pair of boots or shoes designed by artist Sam Taylor-Wood and shoe designer Christian Louboutin; tea and a tour of Lambeth Palace with the Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Wiliams; a portrait by top fashion photographer Terry Richardson, and dinner for eight cooked by chef Giorgio Locatelli, or a day in his restaurant kitchen.

The HOPING Foundation has already shown its ability to organise high-profile events in which celebrities show their committed support for Palestinian children. In October 2004 the foundation held a sell-out benefit concert for 5000 at the Brixton Academy featuring Primal Scream, Spiritualised, Nick Cave and Steve Mason (of the Beta Band). The concert was released on DVD.

Before the concert, Primal Scream lead singer Bobby Gillespie wrote in the Guardian newspaper: “The Palestinians are a prisoner nation, refugees and exiles treated like ghosts. Now we want them to feel our solidarity.” He said the members of his band were “upset and appalled with what is going on there.” Doubtless this is a sentiment echoed by those who will be guests and participants at the forthcoming benefit auction.

Susannah Tarbush
Saudi Gazette, 9 May 2006

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