Walking to Jerusalem

Dear friends,

I’m writing to invite you to WALKING TO JERUSALEM, at WILTON’S MUSIC HALL1 Graces Alley, London E1 8JB, on Wednesday 18th March and Thursday 19th March, at 7.30pm.

“A remarkable work of humanity and humility — fascinating, beautifully drawn, very moving and often very funny. Utterly evocative.”
John McCarthy CBE — Journalist & broadcaster

“So impressive … displays the kind of unusual empathy essential in that tangled and tragic situation.” Brian Eno — Artist & Musician

Book tickets here.

Like the WTJ Facebook page posts here – and please share the posts.

Special ticket offer: a limited number of best-price seats at £15 are available, by quoting the friends’ code ‘WTJ’ when booking.

In 2017, to mark the centenary of the Balfour Declaration, the fiftieth year of the Occupation of Palestinian Territories and the tenth year of the blockade of Gaza, in partnership with Amos Trust I organised and led the Just Walk to Jerusalem – a 5-month pilgrimage on foot from London to Jerusalem, calling for equal rights in the Holy Land.
A pilgrimage of penance, a march of solidarity – 3,400km, 147 days across eleven countries, three seas, mountains, rivers and soul-stirring landscapes from the green fields of Kent to the desert dust of Jordan …

My book, Walking to Jerusalem: blisters, hope and other facts on the ground, was published in the UK by Hodder & Stoughton in November 2018, and in the USA by Pegasus Books in September 2019.

Calling for full equal rights for all in the Holy Land, more than one hundred walkers took part. Nine walked the whole way.
This is their story – walking journals and travellers’ tales on paths of pilgrimage and conquest, from monasteries and mountain passes to Bedouin camps and desert wadis across Europe and the Middle East – brought to life in a playful and inventive blend of theatre and stand-up directed by Genesis-shortlisted director Matilda Reith (‘The Good Times’, ‘The Andrew Project’, ‘Hotel Room’) and designed by Sarah Mercadé (‘Southern Belles’, ‘Leave A Message’, ‘Manon Lescaut’), with a haunting and evocative soundscape by Jack C. Arnold (‘Wild Rose’, ‘War & Peace’, ‘Holy Flying Circus’, ‘Albatross’) and video montage created from live footage along the route by award-winning artists Damian Hale, David Shepherd and Christian Krupa (Sigur Ros, Chemical Brothers, U2). 
Along Roman roads and refugee routes, with occasional outbreaks of blisters, tear gas and desert spirituality, Walking to Jerusalem traces the perils, pratfalls and marvels of the path to Jerusalem. A chronicle of serendipity: happenstances hilarious, infuriating and occasionally numinous – or, as pilgrims might say, encounters with the Divine.

View audience reactions here.

‘Energetic and zealous, fascinating … memorable.’ IRISH TIMES

‘Boundless energy, beautiful prose, colourful characters [and] his indefatigable presence as an actor create a piece of artful activism.’

‘Such passion and energy … the audience were transfixed. Such tales of inspiring compassion are few and far between.’ MEG.IE

During his recent visit to Bethlehem, in the Occupied West Bank, Prince Charles said, ‘It is my dearest wish that the future will bring freedom, justice and equality to all Palestinians, enabling you to thrive and to prosper.’

Hotfoot from its sell-out run at the 2019 Dublin Theatre Festival, Walking to Jerusalem comes to the Wilton’s Music Hall at a time when the Palestinian struggle for freedom, justice and equality is more beleaguered than ever before – from the Knesset’s passing of its discriminatory Nation State law to the opening of a US embassy in Jerusalem to the massacres of Palestinian civilians on the Gaza border, to the recent announcement of Donald Trump’s ‘Peace to Prosperity’ plan.

As Hagai El-Ad, Executive Director of Israeli human rights organisation B’Tselem, says, ‘What the Palestinians are being offered right now is not rights or a state but a permanent state of apartheid.’

In the words of Sir Vincent Fean KCVO, former British Consul-General to Jerusalem, ‘There’s a strong parallel between the Balfour Declaration and the Trump Vision. In both of the two historical circumstances … a foreign state arrogated to itself the right to bestow to one people territory that belonged, through history and international law, to another. The United States, like Britain in 1917, awards itself the right to make a political disposition to which it is not entitled. President Trump’s proposal on Israel/Palestine … wilfully ignores international law and the rules-based order. It is indefensible and unworkable. Britain should seek neither to defend it nor to work on it.  Britain must now acknowledge its historic responsibilities and present role, recognise Palestine side by side with Israel and support a settlement in accordance with international law and UN Security Council Resolutions.’

Or, as last week’s letter in The Guardian from more than 50 European former prime ministers and foreign ministers stated,

‘[President Trump’s] plan contradicts … the most fundamental principles of international law. Instead of promoting peace, it risks fuelling the conflict – at the expense of Israeli and Palestinian civilians alike … [it] allows for annexation of large and vital parts of the occupied Palestinian territory and legitimises and encourages illegal Israeli settlement activity. It recognises only one side’s claims to Jerusalem and offers no just solution to the issue of Palestinian refugees … Peace to Prosperity is not a roadmap to a viable two-state solution, nor to any other legitimate solution to the conflict. The plan envisages a formalisation of the current reality in the occupied Palestinian territory, in which two peoples are living side by side without equal rights. Such an outcome has characteristics similar to apartheid – a term we don’t use lightly.’
Funds raised at these performances will go to support the inspiring work of Amos Trust’s partners in Palestine – 
Al-Ahli Hospital & NECC in Gaza, and Alrowwad Youth Centre for Culture & ArtsHoly Land Trust & Wi’am Conflict Resolution Centre in Bethlehem.    

I’d be delighted if you can make it along to support these performances at Wilton’s Music Hall on 18th & 19th March, bring your friends and help to spread the word.

If you’re unable to attend but would like to support Walking to Jerusalem on its 2020 tour, click here to donate.

Many thanks for your support; I look forward to seeing you there!

Kind regards – Justin B.

Supported by Amos TrustHodder FaithWaverley Learning & Zaytoun CIC

Endorsements for Walking to Jerusalem

‘So impressive… interweaving face-to-face experiences and political realities, this book displays the kind of unusual empathy essential in that tangled and tragic situation.’
Brian Eno — Artist & Musician

‘An incredibly moving and fascinating book, a powerful pilgrim’s tale of love, humour and solidarity.’
Rosalind Nashashibi — 2017 Turner Prize nominee

‘A remarkable work of humanity and humility — a great achievement from an inspiring man. I found it fascinating — a fantastic piece of travel writing, beautifully drawn, very moving and often very funny. So many wonderful descriptions recounting in vivd detail the history and landscapes and people encountered on the way. Utterly evocative.’
John McCarthy CBE — Journalist & broadcaster

‘Butcher relights the flames of hope in our age of hopelessness.’
Yasmin Alibhai-Brown — Columnist of the Year 2016, British Press Awards

‘This is a gripping and intelligent book that everybody should read.’
Patrick Cockburn — Foreign Reporter of the Year 2014, Press Awards

Justin Butcher’s crisp and vibrant writing style grabs the reader’s hand and leads us on a fascinating and thoughtful tour through history into the heart of the politics of contemporary Palestine.’
Jeremy Hardy — Comedian

‘A must-read for everyone who yearns for peace in Palestine.’
David Suchet CBE — Actor

Justin Butcher’s book is both important and extremely readable – erudite and entertaining on spirituality, history, music, architecture and ecology. But we’re always aware of a sense of burning injustice at the plight of the Palestinians in the Occupied Territories of Gaza and the West Bank. The denouement, when they finally arrive in the Holy Land, is both thought-provoking and inspiring.’
Barnaby Phillips – award-winning journalist & author, former BBC & Al Jazeera correspondent

‘Its vivid pages, like a giant moving tapestry, immediately draw us in to this great walk of hope and justice to Jerusalem.’
Dr Swee Ang — Co-founder & patron, Medical Aid for Palestinians

‘Rare and compelling – a revelatory journey from the dirt on the ground to the dreams of so many still beyond the horizon.’
Pen Hadow — Explorer

‘As an Israeli who campaigns for equal rights in Palestine/Israel, I found in Justin’s compelling account a clear sense that peace based on justice and equality is no pipe dream but a real possibility in my tortured land. With Justin as a guide, all of us — you, too — can begin to walk the walk.’
Jeff Halper — Director, The Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD)

‘The world badly needs people like Justin Butcher. Insight and passion, soul and solidarity — to read it is to be reminded that what is right is always found on the other side of fear.’
Mark Oakley — Dean of St John’s, Cambridge, author of ‘The Collage of God & The Splash of Words’

See the 4-minute film here

Photograph: Mark Kensett
See the 4-minute film here

Palestinian children from Aida Refugee Camp, Bethlehem, at Banksy’s ‘Balfour Tea Party’
Walled Off Hotel in Bethlehem, 1st November 2017                          
Photograph: Mark Kensett

 Photograph: Mark Kensett

 Photograph: Mark Kensett

 Photograph: Mark Kensett

‘Walking to Jerusalem’ premiere at the New Theatre, Temple Bar, 2019 Dublin Theatre Festival
Photograph: Al Craig

‘Walking to Jerusalem’ premiere at the New Theatre, Temple Bar, 2019 Dublin Theatre Festival
Photograph: Al Craig

‘Walking to Jerusalem’ premiere at the New Theatre, Temple Bar, 2019 Dublin Theatre Festival
Photograph: Al Craig

‘Walking to Jerusalem’ premiere at the New Theatre, Temple Bar, 2019 Dublin Theatre Festival
Photograph: Al Craig

‘Walking to Jerusalem’ premiere at the New Theatre, Temple Bar, 2019 Dublin Theatre Festival
Photograph: Al Craig

‘Walking to Jerusalem’ premiere at the New Theatre, Temple Bar, 2019 Dublin Theatre Festival
Photograph: Al Craig

Photograph: Nick Welsh