Posted by: Sammi Ibrahem
Chair of West Midland PSC
In the Guardian, Jonathan Freedland writes that liberal interventionism is “fine in theory” but goes wrong “in practise”. I’d suggest that it goes wrong in practise because it’s deeply flawed in theory.If liberal interventionists were consistent, they would advocate similar Western military action in relation to Saudi Arabia, Yemen, the Congo, Kashmir, Iran, Israel, Burma, etc. etc. etc. This would not only be wildly impracticable but deeply undesirable. It would lead to chaos and escalating violence on a global scale, overwhelmingly detrimental to the poor and vulnerable and fatal to the cause of democratic advance. A policy that if applied consistently and universally would result in disaster is best not applied at all.Liberal interventionists treat great powers as neutral agents, disinterested entities that can be inserted into a situation for a limited purpose and time, like a surgeon’s knife. In reality, however, these powers have clear and compelling interests – in Libya as elsewhere – and their deployment of military force will be guided by those interests. In action, western troops are accountable not to the people they’re supposed to be protecting but to a chain of command that ends in Washington, London and Paris.The unleashing of the great military powers undermines the universalism the liberal interventionists claim to honour: outcomes are determined by concentrations of wealth and power remote from the scene of suffering. If we’re to build any kind of just, sustainable world order, then we must (at the least) restrain and restrict great powers, not license them to act where and when it’s convenient for them.
Whole thing’s worth a read.
Census took me home at lastAs a British citizen of Palestinian origin, stating my country of birth often poses a problem, and this came to a head when completing the Census 2011 form.My birthplace, Beit Jala, lies in what is now the Israeli-occupied West Bank. Until 1948 it was Palestine; when I was born in 1951 it was under Jordanian rule and I received a Jordanian birth certificate; it was occupied by Israel in 1967, and is now referred to by the UK Government as the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT).The census form allows only 17 characters for the answer, so that officially sanctioned name does not fit. I wasn’t sure if “OPT” was a recognised abbreviation, so I called the census helpline.After much internal consultation, and reference to guidance notes, I was told that “We all know it’s occupied” and that I should simply write “Palestine”, which I have done, with considerable pride and satisfaction.It’s gratifying that at least Census 2011 is clear about the reality, even while the UK Government dithers. My British passport states my town of birth but mentions no country, presumably a diplomatic cop-out to avoid controversy. Let’s hope that the UK Government gets off the fence and properly recognises Palestine as a country.Johnny Rizq, London W3
In a major victory for proponents of the academic boycott of Israel, the University of Johannesburg has voted to end its relationship with Ben Gurion University. This decision to boycott Ben Gurion University carries special significance given South Africa’s history of Apartheid and the successful boycott that was launched against the country in the 1980’s. The university’s decision is another confirmation of the efficacy of the global BDS movement which, in a remarkable short time, has had a major impact on Israel’s ability to continue its occupation of West Bank with little international regard. Below is the press release detailing the decision.Today, setting a worldwide precedent in the academic boycott of Israel, the University of Johannesburg (UJ) has effectively severed ties with Israel’s Ben-Gurion University (BGU).This was after UJ’s Senate rejected a last ditch motion by pro-Israeli lobbyists to have two separate bilateral agreements – one with a Palestinian University and another with an Israeli University. UJ chose instead to uphold its previous Senate Resolution that required taking leadership from Palestinian universities. Palestinian universities unanimously rejected any collaboration with BGU (in any form) and have come out in full support of the the academic boycott of Israel. UJ chose to respect this.UJ is the first institution to officially sever relations with an Israeli university – a landmark moment in the growing Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) of Israel campaign. Throughout the campaign, academics and international human rights activists have been anticipating this decision. This boycott decision, coming from a South African institution, is of particular significance. This has set a precedent and must start a domino boycott effect!The movement to end ties with BGU was boosted by the overwhelming support given to the UJ Petition (www.ujpetition.com) – a statement and campaign in support of UJ academics and students who were calling on their university to end its apartheid-era relationship with BGU. As the UJ senate met today, over 400 South African academics, including nine Vice-Chancellors and Deputy Vice-Chancellors, had signed the UJ Petition.Included in the list of supporters are some of South Africa’s leading voices: Professors Neville Alexander, Kader Asmal, Allan Boesak, Breyten Breytenbach, John Dugard, Antjie Krog, Barney Pityana and Sampie Terreblanche. South Africa’s popular cartoonist Jonathan “Zapiro” Shapiro, Nobel Laureate Desmond Tutu, Bishop Rubin Phillips, former Minister Ronnie Kasrils and leading social activist Zackie Achmat also backed the campaign.Further, over 100 internationals began to lend their support, including several prominent international scholars: Professors Judith Butler, Vijay Prashad, Michael Burawoy, Wendy Brown, Ernesto Laclau, and acclaimed British author, John Berger.Today UJ has made history by upholding and advancing academic moral integrity. Palestinians, South Africans and the international academic and solidarity community celebrate this decisive victory in isolating Israeli apartheid and supporting freedom, dignity and justice for the Palestinian people. UJ now continues the anti-apartheid movement – against Apartheid Israel.ISSUED BY BDS WORKING GROUP (South Africa)
A bit of googling suggests that the happy news hasn’t hit the mainstream yet but I’m guessing even the mainstream media isn’t quite ready to accuse someone like Desmond Tutu of being antisemitic so best to say nothing.
Here is a portrait of the Holy Land as a physical embodiment of faith. Conjuring up the beauty of Israel’s countryside, this volume also evokes the all-consuming passions and deep-rooted mysteries of Jerusalem.
Israel’s countryside? H.V. Morton’s book was first published in October 1934. The map in my edition, published one year later, shows a place called Palestine. I wonder what happened to it? (You can find a very personal account here.)
Morton was a travel writer who enjoyed enormous success. But he had a dark side.
A battered copy of In the Steps of St Paul accompanied me on a trip round Turkey (it wasn’t battered before the trip, incidentally). Morton is a great writer, and his description of Paul in Rome is one of the best passages about the apostle that I’ve ever read.
Sadly, however, the writer himself is not so loveable. A crypto-fascist who found a spiritual home in South Africa and whose efforts in the war were at odds with his secret admiration for Hitler: this is not a man who one can admire. Perhaps he realised this himself; perhaps the character revealed by his diaries was not the whole truth. He always kept his personal life carefully guarded, because he didn’t want people who admired ‘H.V. Morton the author’ to be dismayed by ‘Harry Morton the man.’
UPDATE – woops, I had to correct this. It wasn’t Morton referring to Palestine as Israel, it was the Book Depository. I’ll let Ellis’s post speak for itself but I can now tag the post to hasbara.
Israel declines to deal with Falk or even allow him into the country, accusing him of being biased…..
In his speech, Falk said he would like the Human Rights Council to ask the International Court of Justice to look at Israeli behavior in the occupied territories.
This should focus on whether the prolonged occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem had elements of “colonialism, apartheid and ethnic cleansing inconsistent with international humanitarian law,” the investigator declared.
Only in the occupied territories? Perhaps he counts the whole shebang as occupied.
What desperate moments for all among us who revere Melanie Phillips and the rigorous self-restraint she brings to her work. In the coming days, the Metropolitan Police must decide whether to prosecute her over a classically thoughtful posting on her Spectator-hosted blog.No one could argue with Melanie’s outrage at the brutal murder of a family of West Bank settlers. What roused Muslim lobby group Engage to write to the Press Complaints Commission and Trevor Phillips, as well as the law, was her wontedly subtle extrapolation from the specific to the general… the extension of one horrendous crime to “the moral depravity of the Arabs”; one reference to Arabs as “savages”; and another to “the moral depravity of the Arabs”.
So I hurried home to do a quick post but first I checked Mad Mel’s blog at The Spectator for the quotes in context.
- Today the massacred Fogel family was buried in Jerusalem. And as anticipated, the moral depravity of the Arabs is finding a grotesque echo in the moral bankruptcy and worse of the British and American ‘liberal’ media
- So to the New York Times, it’s not the Arab massacre of a Jewish family which has jeopardised ‘peace prospects’ — because the Israelis will quite rightly never trust any agreement with such savages — but instead Israeli policy on building more homes, on land to which it is legally and morally entitled, which is responsible instead for making peace elusive. Twisted, and sick.
- Graphic pictures of the bodies of the slain Fogel family are circulating on the net and on YouTube. The relatives of the massacre victims have made them publicly available in order to show the world the full horror of the Arab barbarism in Itamar.
It looks like The Spectator is going to tough this out for now. The editor, Fraser Nelson, is trying to make out that the references were only to the unidentified killer or killers. I think most reports assume that one person acted alone buthere’s Nelson:
It’s a funny old world. I have now been contacted by two journalists informing me that Bedfordshire Police are investigating The Spectator. Why? Because of the Melanie Philips blog where she referred to the “moral depravity” of “the Arabs” who killed the Fogel family in Israel.
She cannot possibly have been referring only to whoever killed the people at Itamar. This looks like a Kilroy-Silk moment for Mad Mel and let’s see if she/they get away with it.
But, back to The Independent:
Some will wonder about the public reaction were a parodist to rework this piece by substituting “Arabs” with “Jews”, and perhaps they have a point.
But then of course, they’d never get away with it.
Leading U.S. Republican Sarah Palin began a private visit to Israel on Sunday and planned to meet Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and tour holy sites.
Palin started off her tour of Israel at the Western Wall Tunnels, accompanied by Likud MK Danny Danon.
I went to Israel three times when I was younger, always in a private capacity. I don’t remember ever meeting an MK, still less the Prime Minister. Still, now Palin can tell AIPAC that she’s been to Israel, like Obama did when he was on the campaign trail.
You can call Israelis Nazis and compare Gaza to a concentration camp – but that is not preaching hatred, according to Labour MP Glenda Jackson.Ms Jackson, who won her Hampstead and Kilburn seat with a majority of just 42 votes in the general election, submitted herself to a grilling by Jewish constituents at London’s Belsize Square Synagogue this week.The MP dug her heels in when asked by a Birmingham student about hate speech on campus. The student was distressed by the comments made at Birmingham Palestine Society by a visiting speaker, Mike Prysner, who compared Israel’s actions with the Holocaust. But Ms Jackson was unmoved. Free speech on campus was “precious”, she said, adding: “I don’t think that is hate speech, I think it’s stupid and insensitive if someone does that. But it isn’t hate speech. If people do preach hate on campus there are laws to prevent that.”She said she had met Manchester University students during a lobby of Parliament. “They argued that everyone speaking on campus should have their speech vetted. I couldn’t believe it. You cannot do that.”Ms Jackson admitted she “expected more of Israel. Israel is not a little country standing alone against armies of people who hate it. If the government want support, they must stop building settlements, take down the wall and start letting necessities like cement into Gaza. I’m not anti-Israel but I am anti the Israeli government.”But Ms Jackson was unconvinced by those who urged a trade and academic boycott of Israel.She said: “I do think that most boycotts are totally non-productive and hit the people who are most vulnerable. “Nevertheless, her conclusion to the 50-strong audience was that “I can see there’s going to be no meeting of minds here.”
So she doesn’t support the boycott but it was kind of brave, if she’s seeking re-election to cross swords with 50 people when her majority was only 42.
But did you notice that it was a Birmingham student trying to twist her arm over comparing Israel to the nazis? Last I heard there were moves at Birmingham University, instigated by the students’ union’s anti-racism officer to get the “working definition of antisemitism” adopted by the students’ union:
so that if a guest speaker refers to Israel as a racist state, the student group inviting that speaker would face disciplinary charges on the grounds that it is ‘Anti-Semitic’.
I don’t know what happened but it appears that while we are often told that Jewish students are made to feel uncomfortable on campus, the victims of Israel’s ethnic cleansing and segregationist laws will be barred from speaking out against it or describing it as racist. It would also mean that Birmingham Uni can’t host Israeli Apartheid Week.
The negligible coverage in the international media of the terror attack in Itamar last Friday night, in which five members of one family died, has enraged the authorities in Israel.
Well I seem to have left my copy at my mum’s (ok, my mum’s copy at my mum’s) so I looked at the JC on line and on the home page, at the time of writing, there is not one report or link to a report on Itamar. It’s not that they don’t have the reports but they have to be searched to find them and then you will find 15 reports that appear to have been filed in time for publication in print. So we must express “outrage over West Bank family” but not for long. It could be some webmaster oversight or it could be that some of the responses from zionist sources are too repugnant even for the JCor it could be that new information has come to light that undermines some of the hypocritical and racist outpourings.
Britain has excelled itself in taking the lead, spearheading international efforts to protect Arab civilians in Libya. Such courage in the face of economic adversity and global cynicism makes us all very proud to be British. This is a moment to celebrate British grit, values and assertive action at times of exceptional difficulties.Despite detractors, David Cameron and William Hague deserve praise for their role. It is true that as a country we have legitimate commercial concerns. Yet while we should always make sure that the UK is open for business, we equally need to assert that its fundamental values are never for sale.The UK should never be a mere convenience to Arab dictators, their sleazy offspring and highly corrupt cronies. Either we are on the side of Arab masses or we assist in their subjugation.With their brutal ways and espousal of corruption, Arab dictatorships are a relic of the Cold War and a threat to the security of the UK, EU and the US. Building genuine friendships with the deeply oppressed Arab populace is the only way forward.Dr Lu’ayy Minwer Al-RimawiPeterborough
Well it cracked me up but I’m not really sure if they are joking.
When Israel bombed Gaza at the end of 2008 in a brutal action which killed 1,300 people and destroyed 20,000 buildings, there was no question of the US allowing the UN to impose a no-fly zone over Gaza to protect its people, 50% of which are children. Those who support the UN security council’s authorisation of a no-fly zone over Libya (Britain, France and US line up for air strikes against Gaddafi, 18 March) need to reflect on the selective nature of UN intervention throughout the world and in the Middle East in particular.The UN will not be intervening in the Libyan revolution to protect civilians from Gaddafi’s brutality. It will go in to further the interests of the world’s major powers in the region. It will be an imperialist action, not a humanitarian one. After the bloodshed it produced in Serbia, Iraq and Afghanistan, the doctrine of “humanitarian military intervention” should be discredited beyond rehabilitation. The west is a major source of the problems of the Middle East and north Africa. It’s not part of the solution, even when its troops wear blue helmets.Sasha SimicLondon
We can fret about it, and we can prophesize doom. We should. Doom is a distinct possibility. We can also explain to the rebels why they are wrong to welcome Western intervention. But I’d rather not. It feels dirty. I’d rather ask what other roads were not taken. One of Lenin’s comment begins doing that:
I would have argued that they (‘Western’ governments) could keep their military hardware out of it, recognise the transitional council, release Qadhafi’s frozen funds to them, allow them to acquire arms, and open the borders to Libyan refugees. These would have been practical, relatively low-cost measures that could have made a lot of difference.
How could we have actually helped on the basis of this template? The organized radical left in Europe, together with the left in the Arab world, could have perhaps called on volunteers to gather in, say, Marseille, to prepare for sailing to Libya. A camp of volunteers could have come about, a solidarity “tahrir square”, clamoring, amplified by widespread demonstrations, for all the measures Seymour suggests, as well for free passage, arms for the rebels as well as for themselves, supplies, boats to take refugees safely across the Mediterranean, and everything else that might have been needed, AND NO NATO military intervention AND limited assistance for people who want to help the rebels.
We didn’t do that. Why? Maybe we couldn’t. Why? What should we do so that we can do that? These are questions worth discussing. In the absence of any of that, what cup should a thirsty rebel pick, the poisoned cup of imperialist “help,” or the empty cup of anti-imperialist rhetoric? The answer is stuck in my throat.
Nor should I have anything to prove to Reider. As he accuses, I plead guilty: I do have a double standard for which I won’t apologize. I have one standard for the systemic, meditated, clinical and profitable violence of the oppressor, and a different one for outbursts of anger and hatred coming from those who have been systematically stepped upon, let alone the very different matter of organized armed liberation, which I justify and support. For more in that vein, Max Ajl wrote a beautiful and eloquent rebuttal of Reider that ought to be required reading in schools.
Then another writer from that same 972 magazine wrote a rebuttal. Yossi Gurvitz, with whom I sparred before, among other good points, correctly argued that Reider has internalized right-wing rhetoric. He also had an unpleasant slip of the pen, describing the settlers’ rapid instrumentlization of the deaths at Itamar as “going native.” He was justly taken to task by Ahmed Moor on Mondoweiss, and this is where it is getting doubly annoying, because Moor’s criticism fast developed into little more than a gratuitous swipe at Gurvitz’ alleged Jewish worldview.
Here is Gurvitz’s offending line:
I never even considered the idea of grabbing the nearest Palestinian, burning his property, or beating him up. And most Israelis were just like me. We took the attacks on the chin, gritted our teeth, and kept ourselves from whining. The settlers, on the other hands, have gone native. It used to be Palestinians who brandished bloodied Israeli bodies; now it’s the settlers who do so.
There should be no doubt that associating behavior the author considers repulsive with “the natives” is a racist commonplace of European colonial discourse. There is doubt however about the level of the conscious thought behind the offense, as Moor graciously concedes being “confident he [Gurvitz] didn’t intend to employ the language he did in the way that he did.” That is a charitable, and I would say a fair reading. But it is downhill from here on. Here is how Moor interprets the meaning of Gurvitz’s slip:
Here, Gurvitz reveals a deeply embedded Jewish-centrism that many of our friends on the left share. The drive to end the occupation and Israeli apartheid stems not from universal human values, but from the drive for the Tikkun Olamization of the Jewish people. Everything else is secondary.
This is simply made up. Nowhere in this passage does Gurvitz even mention anything Jewish, or indeed provide any rational at all for “ending the occupation,” Jewish or otherwise. Nowhere does he mention Tikkun Olam or even raise any of the issues Moor mentions. Gurvitz contrasts an Israeli attitude that one could describe perhaps as a “stiff upper lip” (if there is any allusion here, one that comes to mind perhaps is the popular representation of British calm under the Blitz) with a kind of histrionic politics that is allegedly shared by Palestinians and settlers alike. Is this racist? You bet. But the contrast between the rational, self-disciplined European and the emotional, childish, impulsive native is a commonplace of Western colonialism. One can find it in representations of native Americans, or Africans, of black slaves in the US, and of course, of Arabs in the Middle East. The racism of Gurvitz’s language, at least to the extent that a textual reading can reveal, does not come from a “Jewish-centric” worldview, a worldview Moor ascribes to Gurvitz based on the mere fact that Gurvitz is in fact Jewish. It comes from Gurvitz’s western cultural references.
Furthermore, the expression “going native,” which Gurvitz uses, is a familiar English idiom that doesn’t even have an easy counterpart in Hebrew (Although the ideas are certainly familiar in Israeli culture). Here is the definition of the idiom from “Post Colonial Studies: The Key Concepts:”
The term [going native] indicates the colonizers’ fear of contamination by absorption into native life and customs. The construction of native cultures as either primitive or degenerate in a binary discourse of colonizer/ colonized led, especially at the turn of the century, to a widespread fear of ‘going native’ amongst the colonizers in many colonial societies.
What does that have to do with “Tikkun Olam” or Jewish exceptionalism? Nothing. Gurvitz uses an English idiom to articulate an idea that is familiar to English speakers precisely because of the colonial history of the term which allows him to put Israeli Jews inside a larger implied context of whiteness. If there is an argument about Jews in there, it precisely the opposite of what Moor thinks, it is that the Jews are the same as other (Europeans).
Additionally, it is worth noting how much Moor’s distinction between “universal values” and whatever he imagines as Jewish values is itself a deep internalization of the same colonial discourse about the natives that traverses Gurvitz’s text. It is primarily in the name of “universal values” that Europeans argued that slavery was “civilizing” Africans, that killing native-Americans was an effective way to save their souls, and recently that Iraq ought to be “liberated” so that it is made to conform to the “universal” political norms of US-European kleptocracies. Here is George Bush on universal values:
The great struggles of the twentieth century between liberty and totalitarianism ended with a decisive victory for the forces of freedom—and a single sustainable model for national success: freedom, democracy, and free enterprise. In the twenty-first century, only nations that share a commitment to protecting basic human rights and guaranteeing political and economic freedom will be able to unleash the potential of their people and assure their future prosperity. People everywhere want to be able to speak freely; choose who will govern them; worship as they please; educate their children—male and female; own property; and enjoy the benefits of their labor. These values of freedom are right and true for every person, in every society—and the duty of protecting these values against their enemies is the common calling of freedom-loving people across the globe and across the ages. (The National Security Strategy of the United States of America)
And here is, taken from the same post-colonial dictionary, the entry on “universalism:” a bit simplistic, but given how well it fits the previous paragraph, good enough for my purpose here.
The assumption that there are irreducible features of human life and experience that exist beyond the constitutive effects of local cultural conditions. Universalism offers a hegemonic view of existence by which the experiences, values and expectations of a dominant culture are held to be true for all humanity. For this reason, it is a crucial feature of imperial hegemony, because its assumption (or assertion) of a common humanity – its failure to acknowledge or value cultural difference – underlies the promulgation of imperial discourse for the ‘advancement’ or ‘improvement’ of the colonized, goals that thus mask the extensive and multifaceted exploitation of the colony. (my emphasis)
More importantly, before getting into what Jewish values offend Moor and why, there is also the issue of the value of reading accurately, and criticising authors for what they wrote, rather than for what can be assumed about their state of mind on the basis of their religion or nationality. I don’t know if this is a Jewish value or not, but I would certainly recommend it to Moor, along with spending less time learning about “Jewish-centrism” from the “native informants” at Mondoweiss.
Here is, for reference, a definition of the “native informant”:
A native informant is someone from a particular race or place who is seen as an expert on it simply by virtue of belonging to it. (Abagond)
* As an aside, this elaborate discussion is taking place as if it is already known that the perpetrators were Palestinians. Let me note that we do not in fact now that. Therefore, I think it is inappropriate to “defend” the alleged perpatrators as much as it is inappropriate to condemn them, but with that in mind, it is fair to address the general questions raised.
Opposing antisemitism being the last refuge of the latter day scoundrel, the Canadian ruling class fully invested itself in the task of defending imaginary Jews from imaginary racism. Last year, the Ontario regional parliament took time from less pressing issues to condemn “Israel Apartheid Week,” a series of events organized by students on a budget that wouldn’t buy Canada a minute of repression in Afghanistan. In March 2009, the Canadian parliament created a Coalition to Combat antisemitism, a barely veiled attempt to rehabilitate Senator McCarthy’s tactics and update them for the needs of the day. As its activities make clear, the CPCCA has one and only goal, to suppress public criticism of Israel in Canada.
Canadian universities have become prime targets of the new Canadian Mcchartyism. Student groups involved in BDS have been regularly harassed, banned, fined, their posters censored and their activists disciplined by university administrators, whereas local and national politicians sought to undo students elections, all for Israel. Israel’s shills didn’t stop with students, but also sought to derail conferences and attack professors and graduate students.
This year, the attack on Israel Apartheid Week reached the national parties. Michael Ignatieff, leader of the Liberal Party, issued a statement condemning the IAW as antisemitic, intolerant and ignorant.
(BTW. You have to visit the website of that Liberal party. These days, the more one has the blood of brown people on one’s hands, the more brown faces you can expect to see in their “image”. If Goebbles had been as savvy as these people are he would have always appeared in public wrapped in a Jewish prayer shawl.)
One effect of this campaign of intimidation is that it works. Very few untenured professors dare speak critically about Israel. Another effect however is that it backfires. (Yeah, yeah, I know… some people would call this “dialectical.” Deal with it!) Even academics who are unconnected to the issue of Palestinian rights care about politicians interfering in their classrooms. By attacking academic freedom, the McCarthyites are making it hard not to see how dependent Canadian foreign policy is on silence, ignorance and disiformation, and what price will all Canadian institutions, including universities, pay, unless they are defeated.
So the Rector of Queen’s University, Nick Day, responded publicly to Ignatieff, explaining why including IAW on Canadian campuses was a matter of free speech. He was hang out to dry by the University administration and a referendum for his dismissal has been launched by the usual forces.
Please read and sign this petition defending the Rector and IAW on the campus of Queen’s University:http://www.petitiononline.com/querect/petition.html
according to a new poll by ICM for the Middle East Monitor, Europeans’ perception of Israel has changed decisively, and their understanding of the Israel-Palestine conflict, while still giving some cause for concern, has improved significantly. The survey of 7,000 people in Germany, France, Spain, Italy, the Netherlands and Britain reveals only a small minority (10%) now believe their countries should support Israel rather than the Palestinians, while many more, 39%, think they should not.
This shift in European public opinion may owe something to an improved understanding of the conflict; 49% of respondents were now able to identify Israel as the occupying power. However, 22% still didn’t know. This persistence of ignorance about issues that have been long established in international law may reflect media bias, or inadequate coverage of the conflict. It could also be a result of campaigns undertaken by the Israeli public relations machinery in Europe.
SOAS Palestine Society Presents:
The Egyptian Revolution and Palestine:
Nariman Youssef, Mostafa Henawy
5.30pm Monday 14th March 2011SOAS Main Building, Junior Common Room (JCR), Thornhaugh Street, Russell Square
London, WC1H 0XG
Nariman Youssef is active in the Egyptian protests and was in Tahrir Square on a regular basis from January 25th until a few days ago. She is a translator and researcher, currently studying for a PhD at the Centre for the Advanced Study of the Arab World, University of Manchester.
Mostafa Henaway is an Egyptian-Canadian youth organiser and independent journalist. He travelled to Occupied Palestine at the height of the Second Intifada, becoming active with the International Solidarity Movement in Jenin. He is a member of Tadamon, the Montreal-based solidarity group with Palestine.
We understand that you’re among this year’s winners of a $1mn Dan David prize, awarded jointly by the Dan David Foundation and Tel Aviv University. We read that you’re likely to attend the award ceremony in Israel on May 15, in the company of Israeli president Shimon Peres.
All this may seem unexceptional to you. But we think you’re too smart not to understand that nothing in this situation is simple. The Dan David judges apparently like your ability ‘to tell a simple story in a complex manner’. Allow us to complicate your reported acceptance of this prize.
Your much-celebrated presence will adorn a colonial settler state still vigorously engaged in the business of dispossessing and driving out the indigenous inhabitants, who are the Palestinians. Of course the United States itself is built on the bones and demolished civilizations of its own indigenous inhabitants, but for the Palestinians the struggle is real and present – an every day battle to hang on to land, houses, livelihoods, hopes and ambitions.
Your appearance in Israel will unfortunately help camouflage the brutal realities of a powerful and illegal military occupation. However much you believe you can go there simply as artists, your presence will be spun to reassure the Israeli public that their ruthless colonial society is ‘normal’, and to promote Brand Israel
abroad. You will be saying, to Israelis and to the world, that Israel’s violently racist treatment of the Palestinians is acceptable. Do you really want to do this?
Palestinian civil society organisations, grouped together as PACBI, are asking international artists not to go to Israel while it flouts international law and denies Palestinian rights. In the last few weeks, musicians Roger Waters and Pete Seeger have announced their support for this boycott call; they join film directors Mike
Leigh and Ken Loach, writers John Berger and Arundhati Roy, musicians Massive Attack, Elvis Costello, Gil Scott-Heron, The Pixies, and many others.
You may reject the idea of ‘taking a stand’ like this; you may feel it’s antithetical to the whole spirit and ethos of your writing and filmmaking. But by accepting the prize and going to Israel, you are already taking a stand.
Boycott is a non-violent form of direct action. It gives citizens the power to act in favour of justice when our governments fail to do so. Is it conceivable that during the long struggle against apartheid South Africa, you would have travelled there to receive a award from an apartheid institution? If it isn’t, you’re already
Right now a group of Israelis organising as Boycott! Supporting the Palestinian BDS Call from Within are threatened with legal sanctions by an anti-boycott bill that has just passed its first reading in the Israeli parliament. You could maybe stand with them. Or with these Palestinian children, woken from sleep by an Israeli army unit and photographed because, apparently, they represent a threat to the state. Or with 11 year old Kareem Tamimi, arrested in January in the chilling circumstances of this video.
Professor Haim Bresheeth
Professor Jonathan Rosenhead
London, 10 March 2011
the Israeli government has made no attempt to implement legislation that would grant rights to Israeli Arabs equal to those enjoyed by Israeli Jews, and the wall has grown, inexorably, illegally annexing more and more of the West Bank.
For the people of Gaza, locked in a virtual prison behind the wall of Israel’s illegal blockade, it means another set of injustices. It means that children go to sleep hungry, many chronically malnourished. It means that fathers and mothers, unable to work in a decimated economy, have no means to support their families. It means that university students with scholarships to study abroad must watch the opportunity of a lifetime slip away because they are not allowed to travel.In my view, the abhorrent and draconian control that Israel wields over the besieged Palestinians in Gaza and the Palestinians in the occupied West Bank (including East Jerusalem), coupled with its denial of the rights of refugees to return to their homes in Israel, demands that fair-minded people around the world support the Palestinians in their civil, nonviolent resistance.Where governments refuse to act people must, with whatever peaceful means are at their disposal. For me this means declaring an intention to stand in solidarity, not only with the people of Palestine but also with the many thousands of Israelis who disagree with their government’s policies, by joining the campaign of Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions against Israel.
Did you see that? It is clear statement against the whole shebang of zionist rule in occupied Palestine; the blockade of Gaza, the wall through the West Bank, draconian controls over the lives of occupied Palestinians, including in Jerusalem and the denial of the right of return.
Sir: John R. Bradley writes, in support of his argument that free elections in Arab countries are likely to bring Islamists to power (‘Arabian nightmare’, 26 February): ‘Democracy came to Gaza and the Islamist group Hamas took power.’ He fails to consider the background to Hamas’s victory in the Palestinian general
election of 2006 and subsequent takeover of Gaza.
In 1996, the Palestinians’ first general election was won overwhelmingly by Fatah. It is true that Hamas refused to participate, but the high turnout and vote for Fatah indicate that Hamas would have done poorly, at a time when Palestinians believed they were going to gain their own state. Ten years later,
when hope for that state had been eroded, the Palestinian vote for Hamas was the result of despair and defiance — against Fatah for its corruption and the failure of its negotiating strategy, against the US for being a dishonest broker, against the EU for being craven, and most of all against Israel for
being unwilling to lift the yoke of occupation and settlement.
Hamas subsequently took power — in so far as being under siege and occupation constitutes power — in Gaza after a civil war, in order to pre-empt an undemocratic coup that was about to be mounted by Fatah, backed by the United States.
Executive, Jews for Justice for Palestinians, London E5
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