Edward W. Said London Lecture 2018 – Amira Hass

I mostly focus on Syria on this blog, but the issue of Palestine is also one which I follow with some regularity. A friend of mine invited me to attend the Edward W. Said London Lecture for 2018 last night, which had Amira Hass as its speaker.

The event was titled The Preventable: Israeli Fantasies and Techniques of Population Expulsion.

‘The Oslo process precipitated an internal compromise in Israel: between the urge to make Palestinians vanish and the realization that the geo-political circumstances do not permit a repetition of the 1948 mass expulsion of Palestinian civilians. This compromise is best expressed in the systematic policy of creating Palestinian enclaves, which successive Israeli governments have meticulously pursued in tandem with the internationally sponsored negotiations process. The enclaves best exemplify the way in which Israel divorces the Palestinians and their very existence from land, history, space and movement – both mentally and physically. As Israeli politics loses its last traces of shame and sheds the final, tattered remains of its liberal pretensions, the danger of more audacious mass expulsions of the Palestinians from their land is growing.’ – Amira Hass.

Amira’s talk was so incredibly powerful – she pulls no punches in describing Israeli policies that seek to constrict and constrain Palestinians, and she was incredibly forthright in discussing the spectre of antisemitism that always arises whenever anyone criticizes Israeli policies.

I will try to find a video and upload the talk if they recorded it. In the meantime, definitely follow Amira on Twitter, and read her news articles on Haaretz.


Stories of the Day – May 7, 2015

I don’t really have any kind of introduction to my stories of the day today, except that sometimes, on days like today, I wonder how I can see things with such a common-sense view, and other people seem to hiding their heads in the sand and not looking at the big pictures. *sigh* (can’t we all just get along?!). Anyways, with no further ado, here’s what I was reading today:

  • Violence doesn’t erase the legitimacy of grievances – in Baltimore, Tel Aviv or the West Bank
    • This is a REALLY great article. It’s such an obvious and simple parallel – we may all agree that violence is wrong: physical violence, property destruction, looting, etc, but we NEED to look at the injustices that motivate people to resort to violence. We can condemn the violence, but address the injustices that cause that violence. The author makes a splendid comparison with reactions to the riots in Baltimore and the protests by Ethiopian Israelis, and how the world reacts when a Palestinian kid throws a rock at an IDF tank in Gaza.
  • The Syrian Refugees Who Pay With Their Life To Leave
    • “The equivalent of five passenger planes full of people have drowned last week alone, and this is only the start of the summer,” says Kate Allen, Amnesty’s UK director. “If they had been vacationers instead of migrants imagine the response.”
      • This sentence breaks my heart. Think of all the resources that have gone into finding MH370 or the outrage when the Costa Concordia ran aground. Even more than “if they had been vacationers” – imagine if all the refugees were white. Imagine if all of the drowned mothers, fathers, and children, were blonde-haired, blue-eyed, English speakers named John, Sally, and Joe. So much of the response to the refugee crisis has been subtle racism and Islamophobia, and it is absolutely deplorable.
    • (By the way – not only Europe. Here’s a scathing article of how Canada is doing too: Opinion: Canada is failing in its responsibilities to refugees )
  • ‘Blame the Muslims’: Islamophobia is fuelled by government and media
    • To add to my point above – If I don’t have to apologize for crimes committed by white people, or by women, or by Canadians, then Muslim people do not have to apologize for crimes committed by other Muslim people. Period. Full stop. But in this crazy, topsy-turvy world, where, apparently, they do – THEY ARE. After any atrocious act committed by IS/ISIS/ISIL, you will hear community leaders, Imams, or simply just your regular Muslim fellow, condemn those acts of violence. Anyone who tells you that Muslims don’t denounce those acts are not paying enough attention.

Stories of the Day – May 5, 2015

I’m not really intending my “Stories of the Day” posts to be a daily thing, but it looks like I have more interesting reads to share with you today, so away we go!

  • In a follow up to some of the stories I posted yesterday, check out this write up by Glenn GreenwaldSamples of Israeli Horrific Brutality and War Criminality in Gaza
    • If the excerpts I posted last night made you sick, the excerpts grabbed by Glenn Greenwald will make you sicker. My favourite line by him? “This is the savage occupying force known as the Israeli Defense Forces”.
  • Enduring Syria war: Photographer documents shattered childhoods (IMAGES)
    • Since I’m obviously in the business of happy-go-lucky stories (/sarcasm), this photograph series will tug at your heartstrings. I can’t even imagine the pain and the fear and the trauma that these children have endured.
  • Preparing for a ‘death trip’: the story of one Syrian refugee
    • The sheer number of stories of refugees trying to cross the Mediterranean is staggering and heartbreaking. Families torn apart, people being taken advantage of by smugglers, boats being deliberating capsized or sinking because of their poor condition…..it all goes on and on and on. So much more needs to be done to protect these people. Number one, obviously, would be to stop the conflict in Syria. But even more than that is to make entering European countries much more safe and accessible to refugees. Neighbouring countries have taken in much more than they can possibly deal with, while European and American countries haven’t stepped up at all. All refugees fleeing conflict have been through traumas that the majority of us can’t even imagine; they deserve respect, dignity, and safety, not more trauma from an arduous journey from country to country, that requires illegally crossing borders and paying huge sums of money to human smugglers, to be put on a dinky little boat crammed over-capacity, knowing the very real possibility of dying at sea, and only to be met at the other end with more over-crowding, and lack of resources.

Stories of the Day – May 4, 2015

So right now it looks more like I’ll be sharing what I’m reading with you, instead of doing a lot of writing myself. Don’t worry, it will come! There are SO many things going on in the world that it’s almost impossible to keep up with it all. Here are just a few things that I’ve found interesting today:

  • Israeli veterans say permissive rules of engagement fueled Gaza carnage
    • This just makes me sick: “The soldiers described reducing Gaza neighborhoods to sand, firing artillery at random houses to avenge fallen comrades, shooting at innocent civilians because they were bored and watching armed drones attack a pair of women talking on cellphones because they were assumed to be Hamas scouts.” [emphasis mine]
    • “A first sergeant serving in the Mechanized Infantry in Gaza told the group, “If we don’t see someone waving a white flag, screaming, ‘I give up’ or something — then he’s a threat and there’s authorization to open fire.” “
  • Israel committed war crimes in Gaza: Amnesty
    • ” “All the evidence we have shows this large-scale destruction was carried out deliberately and with no military justification,” said Philip Luther, director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa programme.“War crimes must be independently and impartially investigated and those responsible should be brought to justice in fair trials.”

      Evidence including statements by the Israeli military at the time indicate the attacks were “a collective punishment against the people of Gaza” designed to destroy their livelihoods, Luther added. ” [emphasis mine]

Guys, remember – killing civilians is against international law. Collective punishment is against international law. Bombing schools, hospitals, and UN facilities is against international law. (repeat ad nauseam until the people with the bombs get it through their thick skulls) (this goes for everyone with bombs).