Posts Tagged ‘UK’
Last week I was invited to participate in Tariq Ramadan’s “Islam & Life” show on PressTV. The title of the show was “Palestine: the ethics of Resistance”, but in fact the main topic of discussion was the boycott campaign in the UK. I shared a panel with Faizal Dawjee, who was introduced as a former journalist from South Africa, and Prof. Jonathan Rosenhead, secretary of BRICUP (pronounced like hicup).
There was no pretence of balance – PressTV identifies itself as the first Iranian international news network, Tariq Ramadan has his clear views on the subject, and the panel had two pro-boycotters on one side and myself on the other. Nevertheless, there was an honest, respectfull and open debate. I was given the oportunity to resopnd to every argument by my peers, and ample time to present my positions. Whether I did a good job of that is for you to judge.
I had a long chat with Mark today, and with a few other friends. Cooled me down a bit, and helped me understand why I’m so angry. It has also raises a few questions.
When something horrible happens, we feel empathy with the victims. Since we usually do very little to help, we also feel guilt. When I observe the anti-Israeli reactions in Europe, I wonder: are you dealing with the issue, or are you dealing with your guilt? Its really quite simple to answer, all it requires is a bit of honesty. Just write down what you’ve done about the situation, and what are the probable consequences of your actions. Not what you would wish the consequences would be: what you believe is their real most likely effect. Don’t tell me, this is between you and yourself.
Remember one thing: however dire the state of affairs, there is always a course of action which offers a chance for positive change. This, for me, is the axiom of human existence. The circle of hope. Without it, we might as well all blow ourselves up. If the tally for your chosen action does not fall within the circle of hope, abandon it and look for a new path.
Mark was disturbed by people’s obsession with categorising fellow humans, for him (and for me) this is hard to understand, and the root of great evil. He said: I observe people all the time, always looking for the common. I recalled how history and science have shown that it is normal people who commit the greatest atrocities, and that the first step that enables this is xenomorphism (my term, don’t know what would be the proper one): defining a group as “others” who pose a threat. Once you divide the scene into “us” and “them”, and identify “them” as a threat, you can do anything to them. Resolution and reconciliation will start from breaking down this dichotomy. A Palestinian from Ramallah will not bomb Gaza, even if he opposes Hamas with all his heart. Likewise, an Israeli soldier will not shoot a setteler even if he sees him as the cause of all his troubles. You do not kill your own. Peace can only come from the acknowledgement that we have one land, one fate. It could be manifested in two states, that’s detail. But it has to rest on an appreciation of the common, and the unique.On an acceptance that all tears are equal, all blood weighs the same. If its all one bug Us,then violence is not an option.
That’s when I realised how wrong the protests, and the media coverage, are.
It doesn’t matter if you’re marching “for Israel” or “for Palestine”. Either way, you’re marching for the dichotomy. Reinforcing the image of two tribes. One good, one bad. I don’t care who’s the good and who’s the bad in your story. Its just a bad story.
Then there’s the issue of Hamas. The resistance movement. Even the BBC, which has been amazingly restrained and thoughtful in its coverage, often talks of Hamas’ “resistance”. This puzzles me. I thought “resistance” implies some acts of resisting the occupying forces. So where where the Hamas resisters when the Israeli army combed the streets of Gaza? Surely, if they would have offered any resistance, they Israeli army would have suffered more casualties. As I undestand it, most of the 10 Israeli soldiers killed where victems of accidents and friendly fire.
Yes, Israel has the right to protect itself, the Palestinians have a right to resist the occupation. Over the last three weeks neither right was exersiced.
Update, 21 Jan:
Bob from Brockley has a good roundup on the comedy of British anti-Israeli protest. My favorite is the chair of Sheffield Palestinian Solidarity tearing down a placard that reads “no to IDF no to Hamas”.
A night of peaceful, artistic expression in support of and to raise funds for the people of Gaza
Acts donating their time and performance include:
*Steve Sabella* – Palestinian Photographer; *Prof Haim Bresheeth* – filmmaker, photographer and a film studies scholar; *Soraya Boyd* – human rights campaigner; *Klezmer Klub*- jewish/Yiddish folklore music; *Poetic Pilgrimage* – Muslim sisters hip hop band; *Nour Alkawaja* – Palestinian Female comedian and director
Date: Saturday 17th January 2009
Time: 6.00pm – 8.30pm
Venue: Abrar House, 45 Crawford Place, London, W1H Nearest tube: Edgware Road/Marylebone road Minimum donation on the night: £15 Dinner will be served at 20:30 after the acts. There is a vegetarian option. PLEASE NOTE CHANGE IN START TIME. Acts will start promptly at 6:15pm
TICKETS: Minimum donation is £15.
Please purchase prior to the event, tickets are limited:
This is updated regularly. Please scroll to donate button to purchase your ticket. Tickets are confirmed by email.
All proceeds on the night will go to Medical Aid for Palestinians
If you are unable to attend for any reason and would like to donate visit
and follow the link.
There are several events taking place and many charity collections- donations to any are appreciated.
Update (sept. 05): now its in the papers, so it must be true.
Eric Lee reports that Harry’s place, a popular British left-wing blog, had the wire cut by its ISP after posting the details of Jenna Delich, a Sheffield based academic who in the course of discussing the academic boycott of Israel on a trade union mailing list linked to the website of American KKK leader, neo-Nazi and Holocaust-denier David Duke.
So here’s me making the same accusations, posting the same picture. Sue me too.
Some of you may remember the amazing talk Bassam Aramin gave at the goodenough college a few months ago. Bassam is now registered for peace studies at Bradford University, but since he missed the scholarship deadline, he needs help from private donations.
Bassam Aramin has been accepted to the University of Bradford’s Peace Studies Program and plans to attend in Sep, 2009! This is an especially important opportunity for the thoughtful co-founder of Combatants for Peace and his family, struggling to find a way to survive with the loss of their daughter and sister, 10 year old Abir Aramin.
We ask your help to raise the $73,875 (£37,500 – see attached budget) to bring Bassam Aramin and his family of seven to Bradford, England in time for the children to start school on Sep. 1 2009. The fund is administered directly by the University of Bradford, without fee so and 100% of donations will go to meet the family’s needs. Our committee, friends of the Aramin Family, is working with the University of Bradford to spread the word.
To donate, please mark the following reference number: “d9126 Aramin Scholarship” in the memo field of your check and send it to:
Maxine Daglan-Smith, Finance Department
University of Bradford
Bradford, BD7 1DP Great Britain
If you wish to donate by credit card please telephone the University of Bradford cashier’s office at 44-(0)1274-233123 to give your credit card number over the phone. Be sure to state it is for the “d9126 Aramin Scholarship Fund.”
Mira Vogel interviewed me for engage.
The first thing I came to realise was that the boycott was promoting exactly the kind of thing it claimed to oppose. It’s a collective discrimininative action, a form of collective punishment if you like which is exactly the kind of action which should be stopped. I’ve been working in the peace movement to stop Israel taking collective action against Palestinians. I’ve been campaigning against that, and here is a group applying collective punishment to Israel. So, idealistically and pragmatically it’s wrong.
Something that happened quite recently I was visiting York and walking down the street and there was a Palestinian stand with, among other things, leaflets promoting boycott. And I got into an argument with people standing there and I found myself getting emotional. And I reflected on this and thought “Hang on, why am I getting so emotional? There’s a lot of good rational reactions against boycott but my reaction was emotional. And I realised that I feel personally hurt by boycott because it puts me in the same lump as Lieberman, Elyakim Haetzni and all those evil Israelis I’ve been fighting all my life because the boycott doesn’t discriminate between me and them. Suddenly I’ve become one of them, in the same bag with all their lot.
The Government today published a strategies paper for the creative industry, ‘Creative Britain: New Talents for the New Economy,’ which signals a shift in the way the Government will approach the fostering and protecting of intellectual property – and in particular the role of ISPs in relation to copyright infringement.
The front page of the policy doc says -
Our aim is to improve the quality of life for all through cultural and sporting activities, support the pursuit of excellence, and champion the tourism, creative and leisure industries.
According to Laurence, The Government intends to achieve this with a two-pronged approach of:
- fostering creative growth through proposed initiatives such as creative apprenticeships and ‘find your talent’ and talent pathways’ schemes;
- safeguarding the resulting creative content by stamping out online copyright infringement.
Of course I like 1. But 2 gets me worried, especially when we move on to the operational plan, which aims (in the spirit of new labour privatization) to devolve IP policing to ISPs. Let’s put aside, for the moment, the fact that copyright does not protect creators or reward creativity. The new policy document actually focuses on the “creative industry“, so apart from the moto at the top, at least they’re honest. The problem here, specifically, is in dumping the liability in the ISPs lap.
For ISPs to enforce copyright laws, they need to do one of two things:
- Monitor every bit you consume and decide if its kosher (yikes!)
- Block every site they suspect might, on an off-chance, carry questionable content (eek!)
But hey, what’s the problem? Who needs Indimedia? You just sit down, relax, and watch the BBC, or Fox news. We’ll tell you all you need to know.
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