Christian festival styles itself as the Gaza Strip

Music festival at Cheltenham Racecourse asks fans to imagine the site was the Strip.

August 26, 2010

Thousands of music fans are expected to attend a four-day festival organised by Christian groups promoting Palestinian causes.

Greenbelt, held at Cheltenham Racecourse from today, will feature performances by Shed Seven and Beverley Knight and a promotional campaign entitled "If Greenbelt was Gaza." The campaign asks fans to "confront the stark contrast" between the event and the "day-to-day life experienced by Palestinians in the Gaza Strip" by asking them to consider how they would manage with only one tap on the site or how 12,800 festival-goers would survive without food.

The festival's newest partner is the Methodist Church, which passed a policy in June calling for a boycott of goods from "illegal" Israeli West Bank settlements. Organisers said 21,000 music fans would be able to "wrestle with this issue" during the event.

Greenbelt also promotes the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Israeli human rights group B'tselem and Christian Aid's work in the West Bank.

The festival's website mentions Hamas only in the context of former international development secretary Clare Short visiting Gaza. It says: "She believes in engaging in dialogue with people even if they are considered the 'enemy' by some".

Ms Short will join Greenbelt speakers including the controversial anti-Zionist Israeli academic Ilan Pappe.

Last updated: 2:45pm, August 26 2010