August 15, 2009 § 16 Comments
On one of my blog post’s comment sections, a mini-debate ensued about the good ole’ Mufti’s meeting with Hitler, in which I pointed out to a link, involving Zionists with The third Reich, written by the Institute for Historical Review. It was later pointed out to me that the Institute for Historical Review is headed by someone who’s written for neo-Nazi publications. I’ve made the correction on the comment section, but I was definitely dissatisfied with the simplistic shelving of a source- even if I’m disgusted by its motives- as I felt there was academic merit to it. The world is far from black and white, and just as the Zionist Benny Morris’ work is regarded in academic discussion of Palestinian history, so can the writings of the Institute for Historical Review teach us about Zionist history. The rule of thumb would be, in these cases, to tread carefully and consider only the facts and not the conclusions.
August 15, 2009 § 6 Comments
I wrote this in March 2008, before the most recent Gaza massacre, and also before the deployment of ‘morality patrols’ in Gaza. Whilst these patrols have no official authority and have usually (but not always) dispensed their advice politely, they still give off the unpleasant whiff of Saudi Arabia, and seem at best like a diversion from more pressing problems. I support Hamas unconditionally in its resistance to Zionism (and now to Wahhabi-nihilism too), but unconditional support does not need to be uncritical.
I’ve written a great deal about Israel’s crimes. Here I’ll write about what Hamas should do. I won’t criticise its choice to resist, which I see as entirely legitimate so long as there is no real peace process, and I won’t discuss its evolving methods of resistance, because I don’t think that’s my business or area of expertise. I won’t criticise the so-called ‘coup’ in which it took sole power in Gaza, because it is now common knowledge that it did this to pre-empt an American-Israeli-Dahlan coup against its democratically-elected government, and to restore some kind of order in the territory. And I’m not writing this in an attempt to be ‘objective’ or ‘balanced’; when faced by obvious injustice I see no point in equating the occupier and ethnic cleanser with the occupied and the refugees. I offer the following criticisms as advice, in the hope that it will help the resistance meet its goals.
August 13, 2009 § 4 Comments
Abdullah Quilliam was a 19th Century British convert to Islam, the founder of a mosque in Liverpool. He was also an anti-imperialist and a supporter of the Caliphate. He argued that Muslims should not fight Muslims on behalf of European powers, citing specifically Britain’s enlistment of Muslim soldiers against the resistance in Sudan. If Quilliam were alive today he would, at very least, be kept under observation by the British intelligence services.
It is ironic, then, that this activist Muslim’s good name has been appropriated by the government-backed and funded Quilliam Foundation, established in April 2008, supposedly to counter extremism in Muslim communities.
Those who read my stuff will know that I despise Wahhabism, and still more Wahhabi-nihilism. I oppose Islamic political projects which aim to capture control of the repressive mechanisms of contemporary Muslim states. I am stunned by the stupidity of such slogans as “Islam is the solution.” I take issue with anyone who attempts to impose a dress code or an interpretation of morality on anyone else, and I loathe those puritanical ideologies which fail to recognise the value of music, art, mysticism, philosophy, and popular and local cultures in the Muslim world. It is obvious that political Islam has often been exploited for very unIslamic purposes by the American empire and its client dictators in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Pakistan and elsewhere. Nominally Islamic political parties bear a great weight of responsibility for diverting the Iraqi resistance into a disastrous sectarian war. The terrorist attacks on London in July 2007 were abominable crimes and a catastrophe for all British Muslims. I know all that, yet I oppose the Quilliam Foundation.
August 12, 2009 § 2 Comments
I have to admit, I’ve lost touch with the Israeli mainstream media. I’ve found so many alternative medias online that there really isn’t any point to turning on the telly, or buying a newspaper. But one must travel into the alternate universe known as Israel every so often. So I put on my goggles and nose plug and sink my hands deep into Ha’aretz’s front page, knowing this is as left as the mainstream media gets down here. What does the Israeli mind preoccupy itself with while the international boycott movement is growing and Israeli citizens are turned refugees right under its upturned nose?
The number one obsession in Israel is US support, or rather the eating-our-cake-and-having-it-too notion of what we can get away with and still have US support.
August 11, 2009 § Leave a Comment
A year ago, the great Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish passed away. At the time, I wrote this obituary for 3QuarksDaily.com and thought I would share today with PULSE readers.
It is impossible for me to express what I feel about the passing of Mahmoud Darwish. Like many Palestinians, I had grown up reading his poetry in order to express how I feel about whatever significant events happen to Palestinians. I turned to his writings to understand the periods of Palestine’s history that happened before I was born. If ever anyone in history deserved the title of a Poet Laureate, it was indeed Darwish, who spoke the mind of his people in a way I doubt anyone has ever been able to do for any other people. Today, I wake up missing my voice. The real travesty of Darwish’s death is that it revealed to me that he is no longer there to eloquently express to me how I feel about such travesties.
An often underemphasized aspect of Darwish’s life is how he truly lived every single episode of modern Palestinian history, and lived in all the significant locations and periods of Palestinian life. He was born in 1942 in Al-Birweh, Galilee, before the Zionist ethnic cleansing of Palestine that made him a refugee in Lebanon in 1948. His father decided to return his family to Palestine in 1949, risking murder by Zionist militias that had murdered countless Palestinians who attempted to “escape home”. Somehow, Darwish succeeded in returning, and thus lived the years of his youth as a second-class Israeli citizen. He would then leave to study in the Soviet Union in the early 1970’s, joining the growing Palestinian Diaspora in Europe. His political activism lead to Israel stripping him of his second-class citizenship, and thus returned him to the ranks of Palestinian refugees and the Diaspora. He would then live in Egypt, Jordan and Lebanon, getting to savor the experience of the homeless Palestinians wandering across the Arab World.
August 9, 2009 § 6 Comments
I’ve probably told this story — orally — hundreds of times in the past nine months. It’s a story I find fascinating, and I ask it of every Israeli I meet: How did you become a dissident?
A Zionist Upbringing
I was born and raised in Israel. A daughter to “Atheist Jews”, secular Zionists, white collar, upper middle class, capitalists, Neo-Liberals, who “built this country”. I’ve had many internal struggles with these values and identity labels. Always self aware, at some point I decided to just accept that I will never be in the mainstream, and to accept the “rebel without a cause” label I’ve been given by my family.
Through the Zionist thicket of my own family’s education, school, and the Israeli media, I found myself rootless, alone, but most of all numb. It seems to me that the biggest achievement of Zionist propaganda is to make the majority of Israelis numb and confused. I would despise school (which I often described as “oppressive”), my army service (“jail with better visiting conditions”), and national ceremony (“disgusting solidarity”).
August 9, 2009 § 3 Comments
Statement by 40 Engaged Scholars
Human beings are members of a whole,
In creation of one essence and soul.
If one member is afflicted with pain,
Other members uneasy will remain.
If you have no sympathy for human pain,
The name of human you cannot retain.
– A poem by the Persian poet Sa’adi (1210 – 1290)
gracing the entrance of the Hall of Nations of the
United Nations building in New York City
If we speak out against the threat of force against Iran (regarding the nuclear conflict) and warn against a military strike, we cannot be silent on the use of force in Iran itself against its own civil society. For solidarity with the civil society and a peaceful order in the region constitute the primary concern of our efforts. If we condemn foreign sanctions against the Iranian people, we deplore all the more domestic sanctions directed at peaceful demonstrators, journalists, trade unionists, professors, students and others. Thereby the government deprives itself from the domestic basis needed against foreign threats.
Not only as individuals but also conjointly as a group of engaged scholars, we want to announce our resolute protest against the brutal clampdown of demonstrators and against the mass arrests, and strongly advise a peaceful dialogue with the civil society. We call upon the government to release all political prisoners of the last few weeks – amongst them many professors – and to seek dialogue with precisely those persons as moderators of the civil society. Freedom of opinion and the right to demonstrate – cornerstones of the UN Charter of Human Rights to which Iran is a signatory – are being massively violated in today’s Iran.
We strongly remind that the state of siege and the continuing threat of force that have emanated from foreign governments once again fatally demonstrate how thereby the space for a democratic development in Iran are being reduced.
August 8, 2009 § 4 Comments
The Independent has offered Darius Guppy the opportunity to write back against the dominant ‘Iran narrative’ in the Western media. Guppy argues that there is no hard evidence for rigging in the recent Iranian presidential elections (an argument made here and here too), and criticises the easy assumption that Ahmadinejad’s victory was fraudulent, as well as, more generally, the West’s usual double standards when it comes to the Muslim world. He questions the complacent expectation that most young Iranians wish to emulate our ‘free’ society, and contrasts the UK unfavourably with Iran in terms of authoritarian surveillance, public ethics, and culture. “Visit Iran and you will see a people polite, hospitable, cultured, noble and brave,” he writes. “Look at Britain’s urban hell and you will see young girls and boys armed with knives, swearing, half naked, vomiting the previous night’s attempt to stifle their pain and their emptiness.” Guppy here is employing the rant genre, as I often do myself. Like all op-ed journalism, his piece is necessarily partial and incomplete. He generalises, and fails to mention, for example, Iran’s galloping heroin problem. But he surely makes some very good points, and makes them very eloquently. The Independent is to be congratulated for giving him the space.
Or is it? Two paragraphs into the online piece, the reader is directed to another article which mocks the author. This framing piece doesn’t engage Guppy’s arguments but simply launches ad hominem attacks against him. It turns out that Guppy was imprisoned for insurance fraud in 1993. This is relevant information, but not so relevant that we need to be informed even before we’ve finished Guppy’s piece. Then the Independent’s omniscient voice implies Guppy is not a genuine enough native informant because he’s only half Iranian. (Guppy does use the rhetorical ‘we’ in his piece, but also describes himself as an old Etonian. He isn’t pretending to be anything he isn’t.) The framing article also subtly distorts Guppy’s perspective, for instance by claiming that he mocks the idea that Iranians long for democracy. In Guppy’s article, democracy is written inside inverted commas – ‘democracy’. In other words, Guppy is not writing against democracy, but against the propagandist use of the word in the West.
August 5, 2009 § 3 Comments
This is Jana Hannoun. I met her after a Palestine Literature Festival event at the British Council in occupied east Jerusalem. We were at the British Council because our original venue, the Palestine National Theatre, had been closed down by the Israeli occupiers. The British Council is just down the road from the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood, where Jana lived, and which Israel wants to Judaize.
At five o clock in the morning on August 2nd, the Hannoun and al-Ghawe families were physically thrown out of their homes by Zionist troops. 53 people, including 19 children, were made homeless, and their toys and clothes were strewn in the street. They were made homeless because they are members of the wrong ethnic group – because they are Arabs, the natives of Palestine, and not invading Jews. Their homes were immediately occupied by foreign settlers.
This, of course, is fascism. Because of a myth of national origin (and it is a myth – the vast majority of Jews originate from eastern Europe and north Africa, not from Palestine, not even two thousand years ago), the Canaanite-Arab Palestinians are designated untermenschen to be driven out. The Sheikh Jarrah families have experienced this before, as they are refugees from Haifa and west Jerusalem, ethnically cleansed by Zionist terrorist militias in 1948. The UN built homes for them in east Jerusalem after 1948, and that half of the city fell too in 1967. In this report, Jana is interviewed. More videos of the theft can be viewed here.
August 4, 2009 § 11 Comments
I always talk about Israeli pacifists and their inability to see the barriers they place on the Palestinian road to justice, dignity, and human rights. Today I’d like to talk about a much more appalling occurrence; Amnesty International supporting Leonard Cohen’s breach of the boycott of Israel.
The Leonard Cohen Myth
Personally, it’s hard for me to understand the disillusionment of pro-Palestinian Leonard Cohen fans. In the history of his involvement with Israel, Cohen has always sided with Israel, or made statements of officially taking no sides, when his side was rather obvious:
I don’t want to speak of wars or sides … Personal process is one thing, it’s blood, it’s the identification one feels with their roots and their origins. The militarism I practice as a person and a writer is another thing. … I don’t wish to speak about war.
In case I’m misconstruing my information, I’ll repeat the quote I’ve embedded on my front page and have, personally, had no choice but to live by:
If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. (Desmund Tutu)