Thursday, March 4, 2010

Israel Apartheid Week 2010--1-4 weeks focused on Palestine


March 1-14, 2010 is the 6th Annual Israel Apartheid Week, a “week” of events held in cities and on campuses around the world, to raise awareness of the current Palestinian situation, and support for Palestinian resistance, including a boycott, divestment, and sanctions campaign modeled on the one which ultimately had such an impact on South African apartheid. Its history, philosophy, activities and aims are well described in the History section of the official site, which included the following:
The past few years have seen a sharp increase of literature and analysis that has sought to document and challenge Israeli apartheid, including reports issued by major international bodies and human rights organizations and findings published by political leaders, thinkers, academics, and activists. Many of these efforts have highlighted the role that could be played by people and governments across the world in providing solidarity with the Palestinian struggle by exerting urgent pressure on Israel to alter its current structure and practices as an apartheid state.
Prominent Palestinians, Jewish anti-Zionists, and South Africans have been at the forefront of this struggle. At the same time, an international divestment campaign has gained momentum in response to a statement  issued in July 2005 by over 170 Palestinian civil society organizations calling for boycotts, divestments, and sanctions (BDS) against apartheid Israel. Important gains have recently been made in this campaign in countries like South Africa, the United Kingdom, Canada and the United States.
The aim of IAW is to contribute to this chorus of international opposition to Israeli apartheid and to bolster support for the BDS campaign in accordance with the demands outlined in the July 2005 Statement: full equality for Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel, an end to the occupation and colonization of all Arab lands – including the Golan Heights, the Occupied West Bank with East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip – and dismantling the Wall, and the protection of Palestinian refugees’ right to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in U.N. resolution 194.
As well as the official site for Israel Apartheid Week 2010, this official trailer gives an idea of the why, and the what.


The Toronto trailer features  a good rapid historical overview, and, among others, Jewish Canadian author and activist Naomi Klein expressing her support for Israel Apartheid Week and the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) campaign.



The term apartheid is being used purposefully and more frequently in reference to the occupation of the West Bank, the circumscription of Gaza, and the differential status of Israeli Arab citizens based on religion and ethnicity. Another term that occurs is bantustanization, in reference to the impact of the Wall (see also the Stop the Wall campaign) which increasingly surrounds the West Bank, and the walls within the West Bank which, along with check points and superhighways reserved for Israelis only, have created a series of “bantustans” or islands of Palestinian people fully contained and controlled by Israel.

The Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee (BNC) [or BDP] supports Israel Apartheid Week and announced that for the first time this year Gaza City would be one of the cities participating. They situate the Israel/Palestine situation as firmly within the colonial power/ colonized dynamic, as well as within the particular approach to empire, colonization and occupation that was South African Apartheid.

The demands/goals of the campaign are clear from the Media Section of the website:
The 6th annual Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW) will take place March 1 – March 14th in various cities across the globe. IAW will feature lectures, film screenings, cultural activities, and demonstrations aimed at raising awareness about Israel’s apartheid policies toward Palestinians and to gather support for the international Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) campaign. The demands of the BDS campaign are:
1. Ending Israel's occupation and colonization of all Arab lands and dismantling the Wall;
2. Recognizing the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality; and
3. Respecting, protecting and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN resolution 194.
For further information visit city specific media sections on the front page of www.apartheidweek.org or contact media@apartheidweek.org.
Jenin Refugee Camp

Of the 40+ cities/campuses participating this year, 13 are Canadian. The major cities and campuses are represented, the modest-sized ones, and the smaller ones as well, from coast to coast, Halifax to Vancouver, and many points in between, including (east to west) Fredericton, Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Winnipeg, Edmonton, and a number of lesser known ones. This is perhaps fitting as IAW was first launched in Toronto in 2005. Other cities internationally include major ones throughout the world--Amsterdam, Beirut, Capetown, Edinburgh, Johannesburg, London, Melbourne, New York, Oxford, Rome, San Francisco; and historic ones--Al Quds (University), Bethlehem, Berkeley, Durbin, Gaza, Jenin (refugee camp), Utrecht, as well as lesser known ones.

Interestingly, no Gulf countries, nor Saudi Arabia is participating, which makes me wonder why not. Perhaps some reader will enlighten me. All I am coming up with is a general dislike of political rallies, arts fora, and activism; and, a preference for not mentioning Israel at all. However, these are speculative. Please feel free to inform, correct, or otherwise comment on this absence.

 
The original Canadian poster for Israel Apartheid Week 2009 just after the 2008-9 Gaza Offensive, and the counter-poster it inspired, as described  in "Israelis Fight Fire with Fire over Apartheid Week", in the English version of  Israel's Haaretz newspaper.

Needless to say there are debates, including in Canada, about whether such an appellation “Apartheid” should be used in reference to Israel, whether the Occupation is justified on self-defence grounds, how other Arab countries have behaved toward Palestine, and whether Israel is being unfairly targeted. As one Jewish Canadian student, a campus organizer for Israel Apartheid Week, said in a debate with the head of B’nai Brith Canada on the CBC, “Those supporting the week are called anti-Semitic, and those like myself who are Jewish, are called self-loathing Jews”. I would add that some Jewish psychiatrists call them patients who have internalized hatred against Jews; the psychoanalysts use the term “introjection”. A critique of Israel Apartheid Week is include in the good overview of it on Wikipedia, here.

In any case, as the Jewish Canadian student remarked, those who support IAW and BDS do so believing that it will ultimately be best for both Israel and Palestine.



Themes

The debates, discussions, or comments I was interested in here revolve around the following themes in relation to Israel Apartheid Week and the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions campaign:

-the use of the term apartheid, its relevance, and impact;
-the effectiveness and appropriateness of the strategy of the BDS campaign;
-whether the boycott of Israel academics and universities should be included in the BDS campaign
-what avenues of dialogue should be kept open
-the desirability and feasibility, or not, of each of the 3 goals of the BDS campaign: ending occupation and dismantling the Wall; full equality of Israeli Arabs with other citizens; the right of return following UN Resolution 194
-the value or harm of Israel Apartheid Week;
-other dimensions readers may feel are relevant.

2 aspects will be addressed in future posts over the course of the next 2 weeks: 1) the role of the USA; 2) the role of the Israeli Lobby in the USA. Comments about those particular aspects may be reserved until then.


I would be very interested in a dialogue among regular commentators, readers, blurkers, as well as the “irregulars”, and the new. While I recognize that this is an emotional and challenging topic, I expect everyone to be as on topic and respectful even in disagreement as they have been to date. As per the commenting policy in the Page “Commenting”  just below the banner, all are welcome to comment, and to share their diverse views, though no personal attacks against another commentator or hate speech against any group is welcomed.

If anyone prefers, they may comment anonymously, using the Anonymous option. However,  for the purpose of following a given commentator’s thoughts, choosing a blogonym or pseudonym is preferable. Regulars who wish to do so may comment under a different blogonym by putting their new name in the “Name/URL” option. The URL can be left blank in all cases, unless one wishes to link to one's website.


Further Reading

For those who wish for more information, you may want to consult the sites already linked, or the following ones (some of which may be less familiar to Americans than the Israeli sites):

The Electronic Intifada; its editorial on IAW

Haartez on IAW

Palestine Remembered, which I originally found because of the high quality US university produced maps  and the texts of the UN resolutions as well as the British documentation of the state of Palestine before 1948--all topics I was researching at the time. I came to appreciate its oral history project  and photographic evidence  supplied by displaced Palestinians and their older family members. It provides links to a number of interesting sources of information including alternative views.  The level is generally high and well sourced with links to the evidence used and original documents. It has a very clear Mission Statement. The explanations in Conflict 101  and the Right of Return 101 are very helpful.

Full text of UN Resolution 194 (on the Palestinian Right of Return  on Wikipedia

Wikipedia, on a number of the topics mentioned here, and the links it provides to primary sources and secondary sources.

Lawrence of Cyberia is an interesting blog on the topic of Israel/Palestine by linguist Diane Mason, a British-American Oxford graduate, and former translator and intelligence analyst for GCHQ (one of 3 British Intelligence Agencies), who combines professional knowledge and insights with current analysis of international events, books, and media reports, while raising 2 young children by her similarly trained and employed husband.

Gaza Community Mental Health Program, a clinical, research and teaching program directed by Palestinian psychiatrist Dr Eyad El-Sarraj,--a remarkable man, as judged by his work and his writings and publications--to improve mental health and mental health care in Gaza,  gives an excellent idea of the impact of the Occupation on men, women, children, families, and the fabric of Palestinian society. Dr El-Sarraj has been "held" (tortured and placed in solitary confinement) by both Palestinian and Israeli forces, had his clinic and home bombed during the Gaza offensive, and his one daughter now suffers from the PTSD he so often treats in others. He testified at the UN War Crimes Commission regarding that offensive. Many interesting articles come up if you search his name, including this dialogue with Dr Eli Erich Lasch, former Israeli Director of Health Services, the Gaza Strip.



Your comments, thoughts, experiences of any of the themes above?
Your experiences of Israel Awareness Week, or the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions campaign?
Any other comments, thoughts, experiences?

Coming soon... the relevant Doha Debates*

*Calling on Obama: Get Tough on Israel
**The Pro-Israel Lobby: Defending Israel or Stifling Debate including of the Saudi Peace Initiative

34 comments:

Jay Kactuz said...

Good post Chiara.There is no solution to this problem because two people cannot occupy the same space at the same time. That is a law of physics and it applies to what is called the "Holy Land".

The suffering of the Palestianians gives Muslims a cause they can rally around. If this problem were solved today, in some form, it would make a lot of people very unhappy, because it gives the palestinians a mantle of morality that they cannot find elsewhere. By extension, by making the Palestinian cause a Muslim cause, it gives all Muslims a chance to claim victimhood. It also gives the corrupt leaders of the Palestinians a lot of money.

Like it or not, this is not just about land, homes and hope -- there is a very strong element of unadulterated hate for jews that goes back to Islam's prophet and early Islam.

Going back to what I said: I believe that there is no solution because Muslims will not make peace. They want the jews out of Israel or dead. This does not give the jews much room for negotiation, so they stall and live for day. The ultimate goal of this campaign is not to tear down the wall, equality for all or even the right to return - it is the destruction of the State of Israel.

Personally if Palestinians and Israelis were all kidnapped by aliens and taken to planet X, it would be better for the rest of us. They evil they do to each other causes problems for everybody. Anybody that thinks otherwise is blind.

Personally I support Israel because I think the hate and violence practiced by the Palestians leaves them no alternative. I identify the Palestinian polition with Islam and its treatment of others. I look at the Jewish state and compare it to other Islamic societies around it. That makes it an easy choice.

Now here is what bothers me. My dad told me 30 years ago that that it is just a matter of time that the world turns against Israel, even the US. He is a Christian fundamentalist and see events as leading to the return of Christ. In a strange way, we may find out if the Bible is true, or rather the Evangelical interpretation of it. If the Jews are gods chosen people (a very dubious honor, in my opinion, based upon history), then I would not want to be on the other team. In a way, it is almost like events and circumstances are being manipulated to bring about a scenario right out of the book of Revelation. It is interesting, anyway.

The use of the word Apartheid is effective, as is this campaign. Of course, the question remains as to why Israeli actions are bad but those of others are accepted without question (and I am refering to what Muslims do everywhere they dominate and also to what their prophet did 1400 years ago to the Jews).

I guess it can be said that the relationship between the two peoples is a chicken and egg thing.

Chiara said...

Jay--Thanks for your comprehensive comment, and for maintaining a respectful tone while stating your views clearly.

My Jewish colleagues would certainly agree that there is no solution to “this problem” but they would define the problem as historic persecution of the Jews, which they expect…but in different forms over time. They are also, no matter how left and liberal, pro-Israel, as are most North American Jews in particular, even when secular, or cultural Jews only.

I would not have thought that Muslims generally seek a mantle of victimhood, nor are they allowed to wear it in my experience. More often they are identified as being frightening rather than frightened, if one is to stick to that paradigm. Similarly, most Muslims are not oppressing anyone, and most violence against groups of Muslims is by other Muslims, as statistics show convincingly.

The Israel/Palestine impasse (to put it mildly) does feed in to other dissatisfactions and dissensions, but certainly whether Palestine has the substantive support and help of other Muslim nations (whether states or not) is debatable. One concern has long been that they do not, and that while the members of the Arab League or whatever other group are fighting each other, the Palestinians are often still living in refugee “camps”, which in fact look like poor and run down housing projects.

Like your Dad, and other Evangelical Christians, many fundamentalist, or extreme Orthodox, Jews think that this is the beginning of the “end of days”. Some, including within Israel, are supportive of the Palestinians, to the extent of civil disobedience, and do so in part on these grounds.

Corruption knows no bounds and sadly has plagued many movements which seem to serve a much higher purpose. The same is true of personal ambition, and power politics, which were a plague on the French Resistance movement of WWII. Dr Eyad El-Sarraf was tortured by the Palestinians for being critical of Arafat.

Ironically, according to him, his Palestinian torturers, when particularly frustrated or angry, would switch from Arabic to Hebrew, as they themselves had been tortured by Israelis and had identified with the aggressor to that extent. For him the worst was solitary confinement; and he was thankful for the company and comfort offered by other prisoners, including the most modest of social status and education.

I agree that the word Apartheid is effective, and especially so in this campaign. I am seeing though that it is unfortunately appropriate to describe the current situation for Arabs in Israel, the West Bank and Gaza.

Thank you again for your comment, and its civility even though your message is clear.

I hope others will also comment, and share their views candidly yet calmly.

Countrygirl said...

Palestinian received and still receive billions of dollars but for which porpuose they are using them? When Israel left some colonies the first thing that palestinian did was to destroy greenhouses left by the israelian. Everyone is talking about the walls erected by the Israel to defend its own citizens but none is say anything about the strong control that Egypt is doing with his border with Palestine.

Just remember Israel is the only democracy in the region where its citizen have the same rights, where gays aren't stoned (some years ago a palestinian gay asked for political asylum in Israel), where woman have the same rights of the men, where its universities are one of the best around the world.

It's in Palestine and other muslim countries where kids programs that teach that it's ok to kill a jew, that it's ok to hate jews or compare to pigs. It's Palestinian text book (paid btw by Europe) that teach hate.

Ps sorry for my english

Susanne said...

This is one of the issues where I have changed greatly in the last two-and-a-half years. Meeting Arabs and hearing their points of view has a way of doing that if you are open to learning from and understanding others. Thank you for this post. I've also enjoyed the comments thus far.

saudiwoman said...

It would be fantastic if Saudi could participate but we haven't heard about it. It seems that it is mainly an academic campus based movement and those types are not usually communicated or shared between western and eastern universities.

Qusay said...

The war in this region has been going on forever, it can be traced back to the war between the Egyptians and the Hittites and the truce that happened between them during the rule of Ramses the Great.

Now what gets me, is the propaganda that it is free, that it is a democracy, while it is not.

I do not wish death upon Jews, that would be ignorant, and nor do Jews wish death to all Arabs. Yes wars broke out between the two over the years, but wars also broke out between Arab tribes and nations over the years, the language that was used to instigate the war was different, but aren't all wars instigated in someway.

What I wish for is peaceful existence, what Israel is doing now is similar to what the Europeans did in the Americas, Australia, and South Africa, i.e. push whoever is on the land to camps and/or kill and eliminate them, or just keep them out of site, the only problem was that they were a few hundred years late, and that the inhabitants of that area were not living in the stone age... plus all the history of war that went on as I mentioned since Ramses, which made it all the harder to do.

I had a post in the making about this subject, I guess I should finish it this week :)

Pax R. said...

Raise your hand if you believe in peace! Join the Pax evolution. Check out www.twitter.com/pax_101, http://middleeasttutorial.blogspot.com/, or at Pax101 on Facebook.

Jay Kactuz said...

Chiara, the "holy land" issue is a mess. There is no hope. I also believe there is nothing we (or anybody) can do to solve this problem. It is hopeless.

The "whole end" times issue is interesting because we need to understand why these things are happening. Here are the possible theories:
1. Prophecy, all of it, is silly superstition. It is just coincidence.
2. There is a supreme being controlling things (a. Allah b. Yahew c. Jesus)
3. There is no god and what is happening is the result of people living and acting according to those superstitions (ex: jews returning to Israel).

No.3 is a variation of the great events vs great people concept of history. As I said before it is the chicken and egg thing.

I really don't know what is going to happen but if the Dome of the Rock is destroyed and the jews start building (rebuilding) their temple, I am going to dig a deep hole.

I still like my idea of aliens and planet X.

K.

Chiara said...

Countrygirl--Welcome, and thank you for your comment, and being frank about your views. Your English is fine, and I hope you will comment on older and newer posts that are interesting to you.

As for the billions, of the moneys sent from the West, this is turned on and off at will, as demonstrated by the Quartet when Hamas was elected, and they cut funding. When the funds were released much of it was tax money taken by Israel from Palestinians and marked to go back to them by law, but withheld until it was politically suitable to do so. The funding seems guaranteed to keep Palestinians in their subordinate places whether on the West Bank, in Gaza or in the refugee camps in either place or in other countries.

While Israel is a democracy, Israeli Arabs do not benefit from representation by population which other democracies, like the US and Canada have fought over internally. There is institutionalized second class citizenship for Israeli Arabs, and by religion which is marked on all official documents.
Notably a number of other countries in the region are Constitutional Monarchies (ie democracies) whether they are in the same way Canada is, for example, or not.

It seems to me that the teachings on both sides are self-interested and the teachings on the street are based in lived experience.

Thanks again for your comment, and I hope you will comment again here, and on other posts.

Chiara said...

Susanne--Thank you for demonstrating how one can shift long held ideas after new exposure and learning. I think all of us raised in a Judeo-Christian context were initially influenced by the Old Testament version of the Jewish claim to Judea, Jerusalem, etc. and the need for an Eretz Israel as well as the belief in a divine covenant. This is of course reinforced by the New Testament, and by church services.

In my own case I had an innovative Grade 12 Geography teacher who used to set the exploration of socio-political and cultural geography themes within the study of an "imaginary" country, which we had maps to and information on, and questions about. When the final examination for that unit would be over he would then reveal the nation.eg. I remember distinctly that the first was China, and the issue about managing a huge population, and whether to become involved in the wars of the neighbouring states. We didn't know it was China until after weeks and the final exam he turned the map he had given us right side up and pointed it out.

For a unit on Nationhood he defined nationhood as fulling 3 criteria:
1) economic independence
2) cultural cohesion
3) the capacity for defending itself as an entity with borders

He gave us all the demographic information, economic stats, and inner dynamics of discrimination among different groups of inhabitants by culture, language and country of origin (ie of immigrant groups to the country), changing borders by encroaching on a major city through confiscation of apartment blocks, then city blocks, and reserving building, sales and occupancy to the one group, and by confiscating underground to water rights, etc on the periphery. The correct essay type answer to the exam question on whether this country could be considered an independant nation on any of the 3 grounds was no: 1) because of economic reliance for survival on a bigger state (the US); 2) because of internal discrimination against people from different countries (all Jews though), and against part of the populace (the Arabs); and 3) because of reliance on a major defense partner (the US) and unstable borders.

After the country was revealed to be Israel, it formed a model for my understanding of contemporary Israel.

Reading contemporary media accounts, academic activists like Palestinians Edward Said, and Hanan Ashrawi, and discussing with Palestinians of my acquaintance has helped shape my views, as well as the references in the further readings in the post.

Which is all to say that I agree with you, having broader exposure, and real life ones helps to expand one's understanding and shifts one's views.

BTW Nice topic and treatment of the Gospel According to Matthew on your blog. It is one of my favourite Gospels, and about which I have written (?published, I forget, maybe as part of something else), especially the Easter story.

Thanks for your comment here and on other posts on my blog.

Chiara said...

Saudiwoman--thank you for your comment and introducing an explanation I hadn't thought of. I guess I was assuming a higher degree of interface among Western and Eastern universities than is the case.

Israel Apartheid Week certainly is strongly campus based although cities are also involved. I am still amazed it started in Canada rather than the US, but in fact Canada as a whole is less pro-Israeli than the US, and less intricated with Israeli existence and maintenance, although individual Jews and Jewish organizations are.

Saudi Arabia seems to have its own form of boycotting Jews and Israel, yet at the same time King Abdullah's peace initiative was a timely and effective jarring of the Quartet into a revision of the most intransigent parts of their position.

Thanks again for your comment.

Chiara said...

Qusay--thanks for your comment and for situating the conflict in a more remote historical context which is most often not mentioned, including within Arab-Arab conflicts.

It is true that Zionism and the eventual establishment of Israel can be situated within the history of European empire building, including taking land from the indigenous peoples of the Americas, and in the 19th century (when modern Zionism as a movement began) finishing off their independance through war and the creation of reservations as well as policies of assimilation and attrition (ie drowning their numbers with white immigration from Europe).

This colonial context is rarely mentioned either, but is the reason that on Part II and Part IIb of my cinema posts I wrote of Arab cinema about Palestine/Israel as "Still Decolonizing". In fact the situation is in the preparing mentally, and socially to some extent, for actual decolonization phase.

I'm glad to see that your own post on Israel Apartheid Week is up, and hope readers here will read it as well. It makes very valid points complementary to this post and discussion.

Thanks again for your comment here.

Chiara said...

PaxR--Welcome and thank you for leaving the links. I checked out the blog site and you have some innovative ideas about mobilizing public opinion. Thanks again for making them known here.

Jay--thanks for your follow-up comment. I am not so pessimistic, as I hope that things while not "staying sorted" can improve from what they are currently, as they have done previously historically between times of open strife.

Location, location, location. Between the geographically advantageous position and the culturally designated Holy Land for 3 major religions, the location seems to guarantee future strife. In the meantime, a little more peace and human rights would help.

Samer said...

Thank you ,Chiara for posting about this issue.
I don't understand some people who always emphasize that Israel is the only "democracy" in the region. To them those ignorant and violent people, called Arabs, surrounding this poor democracy do not have any rights like the civilized Israelis. Honestly to me this seems like a racist statement about my people. And secondly I hope no one forgets the fact that all of these ignorant and oppressive Arab governments are strongly supported and protected by the West.
I also disagree with the statement that this conflict is about Muslims desiring to have the land only for themselves. History shows clearly Jews were welcomed to live peacefully in all Arab countries when they were prosecuted and despised by Europe in Middle Ages. However, the Zionists are the ones who came from all over the world to displace our people out and take the land only for themselves. They are the ones who never believed in sharing the land in peace with others.

Shafiq said...

The Israeli-Palestinian issue is one that I've stayed away from (in my own blog) because it ignites debate that usually produces lots of heat and little light. I have to say, I'm impressed by your summary Chiara.

We had IAW at my university but I was unable to attend any of the events, unfortunately. The week was probably more controversial than other universities, for lots of reasons, which I'll try to summarise over here:

1) I go to a university that has a huge Jewish and Arab student population. The city itself is one of the three main Jewish population centres in the UK and also one of the cities where Arabs have tended to immigrate to. It causes lots of controversy.

2) A couple of weeks ago the Jewish Society held a talk by Ishmael Khalidi about why 'Boycotting Israel is an absurd idea'. The Palestinian Solidarity Group (which runs IAW) held a protest. The protest itself was investigated by the student union, which had deemed it to have crossed the line and thus banned the PSG from hosting any events (this was last week).

3) Annoyed at being unable to defend themselves against the accusations levelled against them, the PSG decided to hold IAW anyway with the help of other similar minded societies who were doing the official hosting. The Student Union wasn't happy and decided to ban IAW altogether and ban all societies from booking rooms for any related events. One talk was (I think) cancelled and another had to take place in a common room because they were denied entry to the lecture theatre.

The fallout continues.

--
For those who aren't familiar with the way things work in the UK - each university has a student union, which is meant to represent student interests at the university. Its executives are in theory elected (but you'll be lucky to have a 10% turnout at the elections). Students can also create student societies where students with shared interests can congregate. You can have sports, political, religious, cultural, dance and general interest societies. These societies are affiliated with the student union and must ultimately follow the rules of the union. In return, the union helps with advice, advertising, funding (sometimes!) and room bookings.

Chiara said...

Samer--thank you for your comment, and I know you have blogged about similar issues in the past, notably the Gaza Offensive of 2008-9. You make a number of excellent points about the nature of the democracy in Israel as well as the nature of and support for the Arab governments of the surrounding countries. I think Westerners are often surprised to learn that the autocrats they believe have taken over certain countries did so with the help of the West, and often even initially against the will of the populace.

Qusay dealt with similar topics in his post and as I commented there:
"Zionism originally had different aspects to it, and the co-existence model supported by many, including the great (Jewish) philosopher Martin Buber(nb I and Thou short, easy to read, and the crux of dialogue and understanding), lost out to the antagonistic, and exclusionary version of Herzl et al.

Few who invoke the democratic nature of Israel really understand its politics, the dominance of the founding Ashkenazi Jews, the discriminations against Sephardic Jews, brown or black coloured Jews, the importation en masse of Jews from other countries at the expense of the state (including the very lightly Jewish Russian Jews) to fight the demographic war with the Palestinians and “Israeli Arabs”, or that Israelis are distinguished on official documents, including passport, by religion.
[...]
Martin Buber, and his I and Thou, not to mention his views on Zionism and disagreement with Herzl, and early advocacy of a binational state and federation of Near Eastern states." [lightly edited, and of course the full comment was longer LOL :)]

Thanks again for sharing your views here. I look forward to other comments by you here, and on newer and older posts that interest you.

Chiara said...

Shafiq--thank you for your comment, and kind words, as well as for sharing your own reluctance to deal with the topic on your blog. I am aware that some have a reluctance even to comment here because of a fear of a sound and fury signifying nothing or at least a lot of nastiness. I am really pleased that so many have shared clearly divergent views in such a civilized manner, and I hope more will feel encouraged to do so as well.

You have explained well what the problems can be with the week at specific universities, and the university structure that underpins them. Both are remarkably similar to challenges in Canadian universities which have similar student interest groups under a minimally elected student union.

Certain universities have had particular difficulties with Arab/Muslim-Jewish student dynamics on campus due to the demographics of the university, the city it is in, the actions at times of faculty, or the administration.

York University, formerly nicknamed "Jew U" because of its high Jewish demographic on campus and in the surrounding borough of York (north Toronto), but with an increasing Arab and Muslim demographic, is the most recent. The activities of one Jewish professor in particular were making things worse, until a new University president, also Jewish calmed things down.

Concordia University in Montreal is probably most famous for the problems it had, culminating in the riots when Benjamin Netanyahu was invited to speak on campus, at a particularly difficult time. He was never able to give his speech there. Palestinian students and supporters were arrested and barred from campus, and all Middle East themed student displays and activities were suspended for at least 6 months. Mediators and advisers were called in. Accusations of anti-semitism and Islamophobia flew back and forth.
2 former film students recently graduated from Concordia's respected film studies program did an excellent documentary entitled Discordia, and available free there online.

At the same site, The National Film Board of Canada (nfb.ca) are a number of other free high quality documentaries including one from 1988 about Palestine which I haven't viewed yet, Shoot and Cry, about a Palestinian and an Israeli both 18 and their different worlds.

Hopefully things will settle out for the better at your university, and thank you again for contributing to the discussion here.

shadjar said...

In my case I couldn't comment in favor or against because I don't believe in the Palestinian cause anymore- I believe they are using everyone including Muslim sympathizers to keep this going with no end in sight- then again their behaviour in Jordan is interesting- some teach their kids to hate everyone (Jordanians, Jews, Americans) even before they can
spell- after seeing their self imposed ghettos in Amman and the way they have yet to show that there must be other ways- taking their youth to a much higher education level instead of helping to export the martyr/suicide business. I have come to believe them of exploiting this victimhood. On the flip side I don't believe in the State of Israel either. Certain Israeli groups enjoy too much being the new age Nazi's that almost wiped them out- as if someone has to pay for it.

I remember a very uncomfortable class at NYU- where sitting in the room were journalists, UN personnel, Victims of Torture program doctors and other global health administrators- taking a course on Crisis Management of all things. I was the only one in hijab- and everyone hands down bet I was on the Palestinian camp when the discussion on the crisis
came up. I was attacked by association- a muslim in hijab- all for the Cause- I'm not. Talk about being the 800 pound gorilla in the room...

I've been insulted and cheated by Palestinians here and abroad- the last being an 'elderly' man who sits within Sanaa airport passing himself for an Egyptian who needs to get home- even my husband fell victim to him one year- and didn't realize it until we returned the
following year and the man was still there- to then find him a few days later at a local mall with his wife shopping.

One family -whose younger members I had the misfortune of meeting- is why I don't comment on anything Palestinian- I met the Patriarch of the family who is writer, linguistics professor at Yarmouk in Irbid Jordan, and a very nice warm man- he who had to leave Haifa young said his children and grandchildren all born, raised, and educated in Jordan felt, acted, and spoke as if they were more Palestinian than he ever could be- when they arrived and I was introduced- you know the first thing is to establish family ties, status, location, etc. I had to graciously excuse myself and leave- when the daughter-n-law said
she would never understand how her father in law would accept an American half breed in his house- that Arab hospitality did not have to extend to us.

She had been unaware that I had understood every word- I didn't correct her- I just stood up and told her father in law in a perfect Jordanian accent that my father would be greatly pleased with our conversation.

I don't believe every Palestinian is like this- but I've heard and seen too many things to believe in their cause; nor do I appreciate being thought a sympathizer by association- so I don't like to voice in public my opinion- it would not bode well.

My husband on the other hand leaves the room if a Palestinian enters it- I remember long ago (we had been recently married) one terseincident at a friend's house who is Jordanian heshimite- the whole issue being discussed was nationality at birth place or birth right. My husband pointed out I was always referred to as American even when
by right I could be Jordanian, or Lebanese, or Spaniard or Dominican-
yet a Palestinian born from a Jordanian born Palestinian would always say they are Palestinian- even in Jordan never recognizing the land of their birth. He ended with- "but I guess you all are special." There's bad blood there for sure.

So there's my 'politically incorrect' unpublishable comment my friend. It will be one of those continuous conflicts that a 100 years from now the reasons will no longer be known, like that Star Trek episode of two waring tribes whose faces were mirror image opposites black and white vs white and black. Each unwilling to stop or let the other side stop.

Chiara said...

Shadjar (Inal)--thank you for sharing your candid thoughts, and personal experiences, from an insider-outsider point of view.
When I think about it the Palestinians I know identify themselves as Palestinian from...Lebanon or Jordan most often. If they want to avoid any discussion of Palestine they might just say "I am from Jordan/Lebanon, etc"

In fact the one I met most recently said exactly that "I am from Jordan" which made me ask "Are you Jordanian or Palestinian" His answer as Palestinian, but later said he does have Jordanian travel documents. He went on an Umrah visa to Saudi and also visited his sister who is married to a Saudi while there.

It seems you are describing a phenomenon of entrenchment and generational progressive rigidity that happens among other groups as well, particularly those who have conflicts in their own country of origin. This was obvious with all the young men born and raised in North America who returned to fight in the Balkans for "the homeland".

However, such a high profile, long lasting conflict, with so many displaced as is the Palestinian situation, is perhaps more likely to produce a certain retrenchment on the part of even those who never set foot there. That said the rudeness and tribalism you experienced is inexcusable on any account, including respect for FIL, elder if not biological father.

On the other hand part of the strategy of displacement is to dilute the opposition by having them preoccupied elsewhere. The Canadian Arab Federation holds an Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine essay contest and publishes the winning entries online.

Palestine House in Mississauga, Canada supports new immigrants, refugees, seniors, women, and youth, and preserves arts and issues for those wanting to reconnect with their origins. Their website currently links to some interesting old photos of Palestine 1940-43, nb King George VI's photo in the background, then the King of British Palestine (he is the father of Queen Elizabeth II), which was being terrorized by Jewish "insurgents" like the Stern Gang. They also link to Israel Apartheid Week, and they support programs that provide a volunteer/work/study stay in Palestine for youth who were born and raised abroad.

If one ascribes to the ethnic cleansing/ attempted genocide view, then such activities (without the unfortunate aspects of tribalism) become more important. Armenians certainly are very active in this regard about the 1915 genocide and diaspora caused by the Turks (in the Armenian view--the Turks have an all is fair in love and war/reciprocity attitude about this).


Again I am less pessimistic about a future resolution even if the conflict reappears. The Quebec separatism issue whereby Quebec has been conquered and occupied by the Brits turns to violence about once every 125 years or so, with "skirmishes" in between. This is different of course (though remarkably similar in some ways) and yet shows that certain conflicts are not forgotten whether preserved generation to generation or are revived by historians.

Thanks for publishing you "unpublishable" comment.

I hope others will do the same. :)

Jay Kactuz said...

Samer,
A few corrections:
1. 1. Israel is not the only "democracy" in the region, and yes, it has its faults but on any day the Jewish state is more tolerant that its neighbors.
2. The West does not support and protect “all” ignorant and oppressive Arab governments. - And even if they support a few (Egypt, for example) it is not America’s job to tell Arabs how to live or provide a "good" government for them. The main issue for the US is to support a bad government (Mubarak) to keep out a worse one (The Brotherhood). Some choice! There is also the fact that whatever the Americans do, it will not make Arabs or Muslims happy (Iraq, for example). I know this will shock you, but there may be a connection between the fact that Arab / Muslim countries are characterized by oppressive autocratic governments that do not respect human rights and the religion that dominates those countries. Just a wild guess!
3. No, history does not show that that Jews were “welcomed to live peacefully in all Arab countries” when they were prosecuted and despised by Europe in the Middle Ages. There were massacres and there was discrimination of Jews in Muslim lands, too. Read the letters of the Rambam if you doubt this. Jews were also expelled by your dear prophet from Arabia. What you can say truthfully is that more often than not jews were less discriminated and persecuted in Muslim lands than in Christian lands.
4. There have always been Jews in Palestine, with very few exceptions. Even prior to the Zionist movement, there were plenty of Jews there. Read the travel writings of Karl Marx and Mark Twain.
5. When you talk about displacing people, you should consider the hundreds of thousands of Jews expelled from Arab countries after 1948. Is this what you call “sharing”? Or is that Muslims expelling people is wonderful, but when Jews do it then it is really evil. As Shadjar says, it is obvious that the Palestinians have been used by other Arabs, Islamic radicals and their corrupt leader. They have been expelled from Jordan, Kuwait and other countries, yet only the Jews are evil. Go figure.
6. Muslims, palestinians and their supporters are always trying to end our freedoms – it doesn’t matter when and where, in the media or universities, whether against jews giving speeches or against people in the West criticizing Islam. In my opinion, this whole Israel = Apartheid is just one more step in a very old campaign of Muslims against the Jews.

I hope that clears that up.

Chiara, I forgot to tell you I happened to see a musical show called “West Bank Story” on IFC or Sundance last week. The Israel-Palestinian conflict is bad enough as it is but inflicting that kind of ‘art’ on us (I use the word loosely) is beyond horrible.

Shafiq said...

It's interesting reading the identity part of Shadjar's comment. Sometimes I call myself British, other times Indian, Asian, African, Zambian and Zimbabwean. According the right-wingers of all these countries/regions, I don't belong to any of these categories, and in some kind of twisted way, they're right.

Humanity has progressed way too much to be still held back by the same, meaningless (and artificial) identities we clung on to. It is pretty much a form of tribalism.

The behaviour of Palestinians calling themselves 'Palestinians' wherever they were born is not unique - It's something Jews do to, and other large, active diaspora such as Indians. It is more common amongst the Palestinians and Jews, which leads me to think that a shared, troubled past, does a lot to form your identity.

I identify with the Palestinian cause simply because I do believe they have been wronged. If a separate Jewish homeland is a necessity, then so is a separate Palestinian one (Personally, I believe neither is, but that's a completely different debate altogether).

Finally, I do get disappointed by the rose-tinted glasses that everyone seems to wear. Both sides partake in inexcusable violence and hatred - it's not just the Israelis, nor is it just the Palestinians (contrary to what is implied by your first poster). Nor is it just one side that's unwilling to make peace (contrary to your second poster).

Chiara said...

Jay--thank you for your further comment, although I do think you are overgeneralizing, and offering one-sided proofs. It is true that Muslim countries have historically treated Jews better than Christian countries have, After 1948, a number of factors were at play: anger about Israel's creation and its actions,Israel removing Jews from certain countries even where there was no persecution but in the interest of increasing the Jewish population of Israel, others leaving voluntarily for what they hoped were better opportunities, and Jews leaving as Arab countries decolonized and nationality and language became more important. Albert Memmi, a Jewish Tunisian writint in French who was one of the architects of decolonization left Tunisia when it became independant for that reason. He felt his place once that shared goal was achieved was no longer there, despite being welcome individually to stay.

Also, it is untrue that Israel Apartheid Week is an attempt to silence anyone, but rather an attempt to give voice to a people and an understanding of a situation that is most often silenced.

Thanks for remaining civil towards other commentators, though unfortunately rather one-sided about Palestinians and Islam.

I trust Samer/others to respond appropriately to your version of the correct view of history and religion.

If your West Bank Story is the one I think it is, I thought it was brilliant--a must view! I am sure it can be googled but I will look for it and provide the reference in a future comment.

Chiara said...

Shafiq--thank you for your further comment. You make a number of excellent points.

Rigid and narrow views of ethnic identities or of ethnicity as the primary identification are limiting to the individual, and ultimately to the society--even if it is useful for politics.

One of the effects of polarization by ethnicitiy and religion in a conflict over land, power, and money is that people do become re-entrenched in "tribal" identities whether by choice or not. When a religious signifier is required on a passport and determines in itself one's rights, and the official attitudes towards one, it is hard to have the luxury of not identifying by religion.

Quite true that there are brutalities on both sides, which somehow reminds me of the horrors of the Algerian War--one particularly remembered for the amount of torture used on both sides. Paychiatrist/philosopher of decolonization Frantz Fanon treated torturer and tortured on both sides and wrote about it, saying ultimately that torture brutalizes both tortured and torturer.

One might say the same about ongoing conflict--it ultimately brutalizes both sides. In the case of Israel-Palestine, it is hard to see anything but asymmetrical warfare, rather than any type of balanced forces fighting.

I do agree that the Palestinians have been wronged, by the Zionists, the Europeans and Americans post WWII, and ongoing. Although Jay points out the consistent presence of Jews in the region, the British official censuses from the late 19th century and early 20th show a minimal presence with very little land ownership. This material is available online on the Palestine Remembered site.

Thanks again for your further comment.

I do hope the discussion will be ongoing, and that others will join in, and also share respectfully and civilly their own views.

countrygirl said...

Sorry but I still don't agree with you Chiara I still think that Israel grants more rights to his own citizen compared to the other nation around it (and i still can't say Syria or Egypt is a true democracy nation). Muslim Israel can vote their own parties, there's no compulsory for them for military. The wall was built for security reason after it was built the suicide bombers were droped by 98%. I didn't see so far an israel kid tv program that say literally that it's ok to kill muslims but if you search You tube you will find many and many example of programs made by Palestinian TV or other nations where suicide bomberr are heroes, where you see a little kid that say jews are pigs and they should be killed and so on.

You said that Jay was using a one side proofs but you are making the same mistake in my opinion.

Jew where simply expelled from Arab countries, granted some of them left voluntary but the majority of them left with only their clothes they left also because they feared for their life...There was the great mufti of Jerusalem that during WWII visited Berlin and was good buddy with Hitler

http://atlasshrugs2000.typepad.com/atlas_shrugs/2009/10/the-mufti-of-berlin-arabnazi-collaboration-is-a-taboo-topic-in-the-west.html

Shafiq said...

CountryGirl,

This is exactly the 'rose-tinted' glasses I was talking about.

Israel grants its Arab citizens more rights than its neighbours, but that's not saying much - most of its neighbours are dictatorships or monarchies.

Comparing the rights Israel gives to Arabs to the rights afforded to minorities in European countries or the US, is more valid. If you make that comparison, then Israel blatantly exercises segregation between Arabs and Jews and systematic discrimination against its Arab citizens.

The wall annexes huge swathes of the West Bank. It cuts of farmers from their farms, it cuts through Palestinian villages and only 9% of it actually follows the internationally recognised Green Line.

Israeli children are taught in schools that the Palestinians are 'foreigners' (untrue), 'suspicious', 'bloodthirsty' and 'bastards, thirsty for Jewish blood'. There is mutual de-humanisation - it's not one-sided. Is there much difference between IDF soldiers who are treated as heroes and wear t-shirts like this, and terrorists?

Jews being expelled from Arab countries doesn't justify the expulsion of Palestinians. Do I really need to explain why two wrongs don't make a right?

And finally, does the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem being an evil person mean the Palestinians should have no rights? By the way, the Mufti was appointed by the British.

And one more thing, Atlas Shrugs isn't the most objective site in the world. You should try a site that doesn't despise Muslims so much.

Chiara said...

Country Girl and Shafiq--thank you both for addressing a number of important themes, though obviously taking differing positions:

1)the question of Jewish treatment in Arab lands; particularly after the formation of the state of Israel

2)the importance of sources used for information and interpretation of events

3) the challenges to peace of mutual propaganda

4) the role and shape of the Wall

5) the historic connection to the events of WWII


1)Regarding how Jews were treated in Arab/ Muslim lands, until the creation of the state of Israel, one might say well, or at least a lot better than they were treated in Christian lands--particularly i the 19th century when modern Zionism was created in large part as a response to pogroms in Russian and others, and to restriction of Jewish settlement (to beyond the Pale). There was however, voluntary migration to Palestine, including from Yemen which was most likely motivated as much by economics as by religion. Still as the British censuses of population by religion, and landownership by religion show, the Jews were a very minor presence in Palestine from those 2 points of view.

Following the creation of Israel most Arab countries impeded (by blocking exit visas) the emigration of Jews, so as not to increase the population of Israel. Some left anyway, whether genuinely fearful for their safety or not. The same happened in subsequent years as there were wars between Israel and its neighbours. Even those Jews who were well established in other countries were worried about the future and so left.

For example, there was a huge emigration of Jews from Morocco after the war in 1967. Many went to Israel and many to other former francophone colonies like New France/ Quebec/Montreal where there was a population of 18,500 Moroccan Jews (many moved to other parts of Canada because of the economic downturn in Quebec). Some to North America via Israel. This was despite the fact that Morocco was a US ally, and King Hassan II a major behind the scenes negotiator for the US and Israel with the Arabs, and that they were well treated and protected (including by Hassan II's father Mohamed V during WWII against the Nazis). They are still well accepted in Morocco, and many in Montreal regret leaving, as they have told me, personally.

When Gaddafi achieved his coup d'etat in Libya he did expel all the Jews without their propery, most of whom went to Italy and England, but negociations for reparations are currently underway, particularly with Italy.

Egypt was the only other country to expel Jews, and confiscate their goods. Tensions grew in the early 20th century in Egypt between Jews and non-Jews because of a rapid influx of Jews due to the pogroms in Eastern Europe and rising nazism in the West. These tensions did result in violent episodes but it was the Suez crisis of 1956 with Britain, France, Israel and the US fighting Egypt over control of the canal, that saw the Jews expelled and their goods confiscated. Another period of expulsion and confiscation followed the 1967 war between Israel and Egypt.

Unfortunately some in an effort to get reparations have conflated the voluntary from the forced, and those who took as much as anyone is allowed to emigrate with and those whose wealth was confiscated.

Similarly to counter the Nakba, there has been a growing attempt to describe the mostly gradual and voluntary Jewish depopulation of Arab lands the "Jewish Nakbah". This is a standard tactic of usurping a narrative and an epithet.
...cont'd...

Chiara said...

...cont'd...

2) the question of sources is crucial and even more so when there is war which = propaganda; or emotion and identity politics are involved.

It is one of the reasons I favour sites like the UN one which lists the relevant Resolutions, maps prepared for independant academic research, sites involving the writings of academics who are identified and the original place of publication made known, authentic photo evidence, documentation; and 3rd party evidence (like the British census information on the Palestine Remembered site.

Too often sites are clearly biased, or misleading which is why they must be reviewed carefully before being trusted. The best ones link back to their original sources so that everyone may read for themselves, and assess the evidence and the arguments being presented.

Some of the ones I trust have been mentioned or linked in the post or the comments here.

3) "The first casualty of war is truth" and that includes the lead up to war and its write up afterward.

Unfortunately it is true that war breeds and to some extent needs propaganda, and that children and youth are prime targets. This does nothing toward peace or the truce which eventually comes. France and Germany funded youth exchanges for decades to attempt to repair the WWII propaganda and move towards a Europian Union.

Unfortunately in a conflict, not even a war, the realities sometimes match and sometimes surpass the propaganda.

...cont'd...

Chiara said...

...cont'd...

4)The Wall does indeed, as Shafiq pointed out, cut off Palestinian territory by being inside the Green Line at best ie the outer perimeter is at the Green line and the adjunct security enhancements cut off Palestinian territory within that. Often it makes strategic incursions deeper into Palestinian territory, and does cut off farmers from their fields, children from their schools, parents from their work places. Some areas and cities are completely enclosed.

Everywhere there are check points and aside from the delays these cause and obstacles to getting to employment, studies, fields, shops, hospitals, and medical care, they are opportunities for harassment and abuse as has been documented by the ISRAELI Human Rights group, which has monitors posted to record the problems and by IDF soldiers who have borne witness in Breaking the Silence.

Within the West Bank, as I mentioned, there are superhighways reserved only for Israelis which facilitate Israeli movement and impede Palestinian movement. Also, few seem to realize, even though it is on easily accessible and non-partisan maps that there is a wide band of land in the West Bank, precisely along the west bank of the Jordan River which is Israeli territory and intended to remain as such. Water rights and more fertile land are at stake.


The total effect, even looking at UN maps is a much reduced Palestinian land space with a Swiss cheese look to it.
Furthermore the Wall is only one measure of containment and control. The geographic division and political division between Gaza and the West Bank is another. Gazans must have Israeli permission to go to the West Bank and vice versa. This means, for example, division of families, including some times spouses, and that students who receive professional training in Gaza but must sit exams at universities in the West Bank for licencing purposes have been prevented from doing so. Thus there are trained, but not qualified ie licenced Gazan occupational therapists, physiotherapists, nurses, etc. This of course impacts on the ability of Gazans to receive health care.

Israel controls Palestinian airspace and airports. They choose to use this control to fly jets over Gazan airspace during the night creating sonic booms that rattle children out of their beds, prevent restful sleep for all, and create fears of going to bed in the young--all documented by the Gaza Community Mental Health Program and not denied by Israel.

Control of the seas off Gaza meanings controlling fishing rights, ports, and of course blocking supplies and humanitarian aid. The same is true of the land perimetre around Gaza and the "gates". Egypt has been complicit in blockading their borders with Gaza, no doubt in their perceived self-interest including alliance with the USA.

Last but not least in a desert country...Israel controls the water supply to both Palestinian areas.

...cont'd...

Chiara said...

...cont'd...

5) Regarding the events of WWII, one of the hardest questions to answer is, in my view, why given who was responsible, was land taken from Arabs to give for the founding of Israel. It is important to remember that early on the Zionists only wanted any land, not specifically the "Holy Land"; that Herzl offered to take the Jews off of Hitler's hands and settle them elsewhere including Africa or Argentina; and, that no other allied country including the USA and Canada, nor any South American nor Western European country was willing to take in massive numbers of Jews escaping the war--though there were some who were accepted of course.

As for the Grand Mufti,Mohammad Amin al-Huseini was the British appointed Grand Mufti of Jerusalem from 1921-1948. He was known to be pro-Arab and against the creation of a Jewish homeland in Palestine, as was his father the previous British appointed Mufti, well before he became the Grand Mufti. Prior to WWII he was solidly behind the Arab Revolt and united with the rival and more pro-Jewish major Palestinian family from which the British alternated choices of Mufti (keeping Palestinians divided). Between 1921and 1936 he was instrumental in the Arab riots of 1921 and created the World Islamic Congress (1931), as well as promoting pan-Arabism and Arab control of the Haram Mosque in Jerusalem.

In 1933 when Hitler was ELECTED to power, the grand Mufti reached out to his government (as did the Brits, and others) and looked for agreement not to send Jews to Palestine. However, it seems even the Nazis thought that on this account Husseini was naive, as he failed to appreciate that the German policy would result in more Jews wanting to establish themselves in Palestine, and give more power to the Zionist cause.

Since during those years both Germany and Italy (Italian fascism was not yet anti-semitic) were more concerned with positive relations with Britain they were not about to aid anti-British Palestinian causes.

During the war Husseini, being opposed to British occupation of Palestine did try to make common cause with the Axis powers. Although he saught Hitler's support in keeping the Jews out of Arab lands (and indirectly received it) he was not involved with Eichmann or the "Final Solution" as Hannah Arendt, Jewish theorist, Jewish historian Rafael Meoff, and Orientalist Bernard Lewis have independently concluded.

Still, he was a propagandist and recruiter among Arabs and Muslims for the Axis powers, and was saught for war crimes after the end of WWII, from which he received asylum in Egypt. The British were not overly keen to prosecute him in the interest of maintaining their Middle Eastern empire.

Historians still debate whether he was anti-semitic or anti-Zionist only, ie whether he hated Jews or just wanted to protect Palestinian Arabs.

Thank you both again, Countrygirl and Shafiq, for contributing your knowledge and perspectives to the discussion. I am trying to be balanced in my own comments or at least to provide well-documented information and insights gained by reputable others. In my corner/hemisphere, there is much greater "knowledge" of the Jewish-Israeli perspective so it is important I think to express the otherside. Similarly at times Arab Muslims have been taught highly ideological views of Jewish history and especially the Holocaust and the Nakbah so I think everyone benefits from a sober look at what evidence, and facts are available.

I do hope others will toss in their 2 cents, 2 shekels, 2 dirhams, whatever... :)

Chiara said...

On a lighter note, and emphasizing the similarity of the cultural underpinnings of the Israeli/Palestinian peoples (or at least some of them), and as mentioned by Jay Kactuz above:

West Bank Story (2005)

From the Google Video blurb:
West Bank Story is a comedy/musical short film, directed by Ari Sandel, co-written by Sandel and Kim Ray, produced by Pascal Vaguelsy, Amy Kim, Ashley Jordan, Ravi Malhotra, and featuring choreography by Ramon Del Barrio. The film is a parody of the classic musical film West Side Story, which in turn is an adaptation of Romeo and Juliet. The film follows the romance between the relatives of the owners of rival falafel restaurants, one Israeli and the other Palestinian, respectively named the Kosher Kings and the Hummus Hut, in the West Bank. The film stars Ben Newmark as the Israeli soldier, Noureen DeWulf as the Palestinian cashier, A.J. Tannen as the Israeli restaurant owner and Joey Naber as his Palestinian rival. The film premiered at the 2005 Sundance Film Festival, and was screened at numerous additional film festivals across the world, garnering several awards. In 2007, at the 79th Academy Awards, it won the Oscar in the category Best Live Action Short Film.

I would only add that it was a graduation project for film school, and the result of frustration at trying to capture all the issues dramatically.

Enjoy as I did, or not as Jay did. :)

Jay Kactuz said...

OK, Chiara, that does it! You are in trouble now. The time has come for you to tell us the truth. After reading your blog as well as varied multifaceted, prolonged, and incisive comments on 143 other blogs, I have a very serious question, one that you must answer from the bottom of your heart.

When you were married, assuming that it was the usual Western ceremony (and if it was not, you are going to have to assume that anyway) … were you able to simply say “I do” or did your vow consist of a six-part, 10-minute, 827 word analysis of the mutual psycho-socio-economic elements of the relationship being considered, concluding with a somber lecture to the groom on the lasting and serious nature of his responsibilities and the grave and possible painful repercussions of failing to live up to the covenant in any way?

Chiara said...

Jay--fortunately for all present, I had an Islamic marriage, and my translator said "Chiara bint...bint...", "I do", "I did" (receive the mahr in the amount listed), and my mahrem gave my full name bint...bint... and said "she does" and "yes she did". Between the hub giving me the LOOK (he thinks/knows I can write/recite a thesis at the drop of a topic), and the translator (whose previous incarnation as study buddy resulted in his frequent use of the Spanish expression "y ya está" [and that's it]) sitting beside me and controlling the "conversation", I managed to be succinct.

You are just mad about the linking of your "favourite" "West Bank Story", right?

LOL :)

Medina said...

Thanks Chiara for this post. I would like to raise some points here because it seems that some people are just expressing their attitudes here. First of all, Palestinian issue is not a matter of Islam or Judaism. Palestinians who were Christian, Jewish or pagan, became Muslim after Muslims entered Palestine for the first time. so, lands are owned by “people” not RELIGIONS. Second, for those people who re crying that Israel is a democratic state (smiling). Ok let us question Israeli democracy and give them also the west bank and Gaza and make one democratic state for both Israelis (immigrants from all around the world to Palestine) and Palestinians (aborigines) call it Isratine. let us see who is going to refuse this solution? I think that immigrants (Israelis) are going to refuse it because they are democratic “immigrants”!!!. Hence, we conclude that those immigrants (Israelis) are occupying Palestinian territories and this occupation must end.

Chiara said...

Medina--thank you for your comment, and as usual you make a number of excellent points. Palestinians comprise a number of religious and non-religious groups identified by being from a specific region for generations and of Arab culture and language. Israel is a democracy in some senses but surprisingly to others not in all the ways that those more familiar with the US assume. Certainly the UN would agree that Israel is occupying Palestinian land, and an argument can be made that it wasn't British land for them to hand over to anyone else in 1948. Most people seem unaware that Ashkenazi Jews came to establish the state of Israel and in that sense are Europeanized, Germanicized Jewish colonizers of the indigenous peoples including what few Sephardic Jews were thee.


Thanks again for your comment!

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