May 13, 2013 § Leave a Comment
Last Monday, on the 6th of May, Israel’s Ministerial Committee for Legislation decided to approve the “Jenin Jenin Amendment” in a paramilitary hearing. The amendment [Hebrew] is an addition to the Israeli Defamation Law [Hebrew], stating that army personnel and the state can sue individuals, who expose army violence, for libel, without proving damages. The amendment comes as a reaction to Israel’s Supreme Court rejecting soldiers’ class action suit of defamation against actor/director Mohammad Bakri, for his documentary Jenin Jenin (watch it in full here), in which Palestinian testimonies describe their experiences of the 2002 massacre perpetrated by Israel’s army in the besieged refugee camp.
April 27, 2013 § Leave a Comment
This review was published at the Independent.
Joshua lives in a brand new town called Amarias. He shares his brand new house with his mother who, since his father’s death in battle, has been “like a pane of glass riddled with cracks that was still somehow sitting there in the frame,” and also with tree-killing Liev, the “anti-father” whose cloying unpleasantness is a great pleasure to read.
One day, chasing a lost football and propelled by an overbearing curiosity, Joshua discovers a tunnel which leads under a wall to an entirely different world – one containing both danger and kindness, and a beguiling young girl. As storytellers from CS Lewis to Philip Pullman know, there’s something archetypal about holes in walls opening onto entirely unexpected realms; and tunnels to wonderland have been evoking rebirth since ancient cave painters squeezed through crevices to make their sacred art. William Sutcliffe employs all this rites-of-passage symbolism with a very light touch, and crafts his novel with sustained suspense.
The new world is not named (not until page 80 is it called “the Occupied Zone”; and the words ‘Israel’ and ‘Palestine’ are never mentioned) – in this way the book avoids being self-professedly ‘political’ – yet the place is described with great accuracy and atmospheric precision. An “aftertaste of violence is hanging in the air, like a bad smell.” The houses are close-packed, unpainted, unfinished. The shops spill onto cracked streets which are “both enticingly alive and strangely depressing.” Those who know will recognise “the mournful wail of a solo voice backed by violins” as the Egyptian diva Um Kalthoum, but Joshua doesn’t know. He doesn’t even speak the language, though the inhabitants speak his.
Amarias, on his side of the wall, with its lawns and pools and rows of identical houses, is clean and fresh “as if a magic spell has conjured it up out of thin air.” Once Joshua has tasted forbidden knowledge, the town, and the fact that no-one around Joshua seems to recognise the absurd ephemerality of its situation, become darkly surreal.
April 25, 2013 § Leave a Comment
In a public debate in Montreal, the famous historian Professor Arnold Toynbee defends his positions on Israel, from an Israeli diplomat, Dr. Yaacov Herzog, who unfortunately also chairs the meeting.
The debate was held on January 31, 1961 at the Bnei Brith Hillel House at McGill University, before an audience of students, faculty and news reporters.
April 6, 2013 § 1 Comment
The following is an episode of the BBC series Exiles featuring Edward Said (h/t to Doug Tarnopol).
March 30, 2013 § 1 Comment
by William A. Cook
“Put yourself in their shoes. Look at the world through their eyes. It is not fair that a Palestinian child cannot grow up in a state of their own. Living their entire lives with the presence of a foreign army that controls the movements not just of those young people but their parents, their grandparents, every single day. It’s not just when settler violence against Palestinians goes unpunished. It’s not right to prevent Palestinians from farming their lands; or restricting a student’s ability to move around the West Bank; or displace Palestinian families from their homes Neither occupation nor expulsion is the answer. Just as Israelis built a state in their homeland, Palestinians have a right to be a free people in their own land” (President Barak Obama in Israel 2013).
Would that the President might take his own advice—“Put yourself in their shoes. Look at the world through their eyes”—he need only open his eyes beyond the wall that imprisons the Palestinians he speaks about: see how the wall blinds the Jews to the plight of the people they drove from their land, see the barren landscape on the other side rubble strewn, savaged by bulldozers and missiles, see the people caught in a maelstrom of poverty and deprivation, listen to the mothers and wives weep for their husbands and sons jailed without charge in Israel’s Gulag where escape comes by self-starvation as the only defense against indefinite torture and lives lost to family and friends, listen to the cries of the people of the world who have condemned this barbaric behavior only to run into the President’s own wall–the veto in the UN Security Council that effectively denies the justice he so righteously exalts, “Peace is also just.” How true and how easily it could be made a reality if he were to simply abstain during the vote that sought to bring this defiant state before the International Court of Justice finally after 64 years of impunity to the very justice this President mouths, as though saying it levitates him beyond criticism.
February 13, 2013 § Leave a Comment
Al Jazeera World on the great Gideon Levy.
Gideon Levy is someone who evokes strong emotions from fellow Israelis. The writer and journalist has made weekly visits, over the past three decades, to the occupied Palestinian territories, describing what he sees – plainly and without propaganda. For some Israelis, he is seen as a brave disseminator of the truth. But many others condemn him as a propagandist for Hamas. And his columns for the Tel Aviv-based Haaretz newspaper have made him, arguably, one of the most hated men in Israel. Going Against The Grain follows Gideon Levy on one of his assignments in Hebron, and meets some of the ordinary Palestinians whose lives he has described in his regular column for Haaretz.
February 12, 2013 § Leave a Comment
For some reason, SNL did not broadcast this.
February 11, 2013 § Leave a Comment
Christopher Lydon of the wonderful Radio Open Source interview joins the great Lebanese novelist Elias Khoury for a stimulating discussion on art, politics and literature.
CAIRO — Elias Khoury is the sort of novelist we rely on to tell us what is going on. Himself of Lebanese and Christian antecedents, he wrote Gate of the Sun (1998), a stylized and much-admired fictional account of the Palestinian naqbah or “catastrophe” from 1948 to the infamous Sabra and Shatillah massacres in Lebanon in 1982. Writing, he remarks, is his means of discovering his ignorance and overcoming it.
January 27, 2013 § Leave a Comment
by William A. Cook
“We are outraged and shocked at these offensive comments (made by MP David Ward last week) about Jewish victims of the Holocaust and the suggestion that Jews should have learned a lesson from the experience” — Jon Benjamin, chief executive of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, 1/25/2013.
I must apologize for not responding to the lashing given to Lib Dem MP David Ward a week ago as my wife’s Mother, 88 years of age, was moved into Hospice care readying her for leaving this vale of tears. Her life, as is true of my own, suffered the horrors of WWII and the Nazi devastation of prisoners including, from 1933, Communists, Socialists, Social Democrats, Roma (Gypsies), Jehovah Witnesses, homosexuals, (and) persons accused of “asocial” or socially deviant behavior, and Jews, between 1938 and 1945 (Holocaust Encyclopedia). Our lives are bookended between depressions and wars. So what have we learned, as David Ward so tellingly asks to the chagrin of many including Mr. Benjamin quoted above. Curiously I found Mr. Ward’s comment incomplete. This is what he said: « Read the rest of this entry »
January 14, 2013 § 3 Comments
Note: I don’t speak French, I’m responding to a Google Translate version of the original post, so I’ll refrain from my usual special attention to semantics, in order not to dwell on what may be a technical mistake in translation.
Last Wednesday, Jacky Terrasson’s agent, Christophe Deghelt, responded to the massive campaign to boycott the Israel state sponsored Red Sea Jazz Festival (more details on the government and corporate connections of the festival in this article). Since thought did actually go into this post, I think we in the BDS movement should respond. So here it is, point-by-point. I hope this furthers public discussion, as BDS so often does, because just like Christophe Deghelt, this is a “debate that I hold dear”.