Towards Better Ally-ship for Palestine: A letter to the US activist community

Activism
on 105 Comments

In light of the rapid growth in the Palestine activism community that is led, administered and predominated by non-Palestinians, the following is a letter of affirmations and requests made to address that community. This letter represents a Palestinian plea and critique that can henceforth improve the language used to address Palestine and Palestinian liberation movements and create better relationships between Palestinians and their allies. To create a friendly and direct tone, I use the pronoun “you” to address US-based pro-Palestine activists and organizations that are not nationally Palestinian. Though the letter takes the form of a list, it is meant to trigger a healthy conversation and a series of necessary confrontations— hopefully.

1. First and foremost, this letter asserts a collective appreciation and respect for your involvement in and support for the Palestinian cause. Over the past years, you have shown great perseverance and fortitude in your volunteerism and protest to advocate for Palestinian rights. For the most part, you have shown much understanding and cordiality, and in that spirit, I hope that you understand that the critiques listed here are meant to bolster our connections and build stronger bridges that affirm, rather than alienate, your openness to Palestinian voices and dedication to stand behind them.

2. It is more appropriate that you refrain from discursively coupling Palestine with Israel in your declarations and statements. “Israel/Palestine” is not an inviting term for most Palestinians. In fact, it connotes a relationship of power where Israel dominates the discourse. Additionally, it gives the impression that both Palestine and Israel should be spoken of mainly and solely as relating equally to one another, which completely undermines the historicity of Palestine as an age-old culture and place that is magnanimous in legacy and gravity in comparison to Israel, a sixty-eight-year-old novice and forced settler colonial creation.

3. It is more appropriate that you refrain from circulating the term “Middle East” in relationship to Israel or Palestine. The term itself was a geopolitical term that has been used historically to accommodate the global north and its orientalist perception of the region as homogenous in culture, language and religion, which cannot be farther from the truth. The term has been especially sanitized by US foreign policy that has continuously used it to mark the region as a hot zone. In similar ways, and upon its early foundation, Israel has used the term to undermine the pan-Arabic term that existed at the time, “the Arab world,” which included only Arabic speaking countries. “Arab World” or “Arab region” was compromised for the more religion-oriented “Middle East” where language, as a historical unifier, takes a backseat. Not only did the term “Middle East” accommodate the Hebrew-speaking nation in ways the “Arab World” did not, but it also found its way to the propagandas of multiple Israeli politicians who present Israel as the only “civilized nation” in a region that is infested with dangerous Islamic fundamentalists.

4. It is important to understand that most of the terms English-speaking activists use to refer to geographies related to Palestine are the products of multiple colonialisms in the history of the territory. Palestinians might not expect you to use the Arabic names, suffice it, however, that you realize how speaking about Palestinians or about Palestine can never truly reach a level of complete cultural resonance. It will never completely grasp the weight of cultural loss that has befallen our people for the past century, since the late Ottomans, the British and the Israelis all practiced language erasure policies, among other anti-cultural practices.

5. It is important that you reconsider your constant inclination to address “the Palestinian civil society” in your activist calls and social circles. There has never been a consensus among Palestinians themselves about what constitutes Palestine’s “civil society.” In fact, the term itself stands as a sharp contradiction to the history of Palestinian resistance that was mostly led by rebels who hailed from farming communities with little to no access to education and fortune. The educated and fortunate few in the early twentieth century were actually descendants of the feudalist elites who cemented an unhealthy classism in Palestinian culture that, unfortunately, remains to this day. One must reject the implication that Palestine’s elites are those who can be conversed with or invited to speak in your spaces. Palestine is a much more versatile community, and one would hope that you are able to engage with those of us who lack the privileges to travel and climb to first-world-status yet deeply and passionately, even if invisibly, fight for the liberation of Palestine on a daily basis.

6. It is more culturally respectful that you refrain from the constant idealization of Palestinian “non-violent resistance” at the expense of what some Palestinians have chosen instead of physical and armed means. Let it be clarified that Palestinians have never agreed on the best method of resistance. We have not come to an agreement partly because we realize that none of us has the authority to create a uniform way of how our dispossessed, tortured, injured, orphaned and traumatized populations should defend themselves towards their assailants. When non-Palestinian, Pro-Palestine organizations put those of us who choose the path of non-violence on a pedestal, they are setting a tone that we did not collectively choose for ourselves. In fact, they overstep a boundary and make a grave offense. Those organizations should be reminded that they cannot be selective in the type of people they support if they already promised to stand behind a whole nation and its strife for liberation. The way members of our nation choose to respond to Israeli colonialism is not subject to moralistic rationalization or dismissal. It needs to be confronted and, if not supported, those organizations need to reexamine their commitments and openly admit to their limitations.

7. It is pertinent that you do not conflate an advocacy for Israeli equal rights to your support of Palestinian liberation. Standing with non-white Jewish Israelis or Israeli LGTQ+ members in their fight against racist and homophobic/transphobic Israeli policies does not lead to the same objectives as that of a free Palestine. The goal of the Palestine liberation movement is not to create a better, friendlier Israel but to create a country independent from all forms of colonialism, including that of Israeli settler colonialism. Unquestionably, Palestinians should support the rights of colonized subjects and disenfranchised minorities and many are indeed doing so— by virtue of our own experiences with murder, injustice and land theft— but we rightfully demand that same recognition from other communities as well. In many ways, there lies great potential in Palestinians joining hands with Israeli Jews of color, to cite one eminent possibility for collaboration, but that can only happen if the latter choose to denounce Israeli citizenships and rights and embrace the call for Palestinian liberation not in the name of maintaining the Israeli nation-state, but in its complete opposite. Without doubt, Palestinians will always remain committed to full decolonization, and they should not be expected to compromise that right and goal for the sake of co-signing into liberal language and values of racial and ethnic inclusion that never included us to begin with, not in Israeli history nor the history of the modern world.

8. The present moment necessitates reaching a consensus on the global call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) and the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (ACBI). Though many US academic institutions have taken a side and voted either for or against these calls, some activist organizations remain undecided. It is pertinent that this ambiguity is resolved in the near future. It is highly problematic when a pro-Palestine activism organization has no decision on BDS and ACBI. It leaves its subjects of support confused about the limitations of these organizations and the truth of their dedication.

9. Recent discourse on Palestine in the US has connected it to domestic racial struggles and social justice matters. This has had the effect of raising Palestine to public consciousness in the country. It also has implicated the US as a settler colonial state in the oppression of Palestinians as a financial and political patron to Israel. However, one of the unintended downsides of these connections is that they entail a disregard of the specifity attached to Palestine as a place, culture, and history. In the process of making Palestine palatable and intelligible to an American audience, it became an accessory to discussion rather than a primary issue. It also remains, unfortunately, a “conflict” or a “controversy” provoked in association to another rather than the living being it truly is. US-based organizations that support Palestinians should consider it a subject matter that requires a teaching curriculum that supplements activists’ understanding of Palestine and its history. It is quite appropriate that Palestinians demand that people know the full history of their struggle before they jump into supporting it— especially considering how a support for Palestine is a life-long dedication that requires multiple energies and sites of knowledge.

10. This letter references Israel as a settler colonial state because we, Palestinians in all our languages, religions, and colors, perceive ourselves as Palestine’s native community. This is a non-negotiable matter. We do not compromise our status and heritage nor condone a truth-altering narrative for the sake of acquiescing to public misconceptions about Palestine being the “Jewish Promised Land.” It is important to assert, however, that our native status does not come with claims over national, ethnic or religious supremacy. We do not believe that the land was promised to us, nor do we perceive it as a real estate bid we want to monopolize. We care for the protection and maintenance of Palestine, and our struggle for liberation is unquestionably a fight for life in all its forms.

11. I end my list with this thought: Not all support is good support. There is so much work to do to aid Palestinians into achieving the full potential of a decolonial future. In order for that to happen, communication lines should always remain open. It is unfair for our supporters to assume that we cannot speak for ourselves, that we cannot speak, or that they can speak better for us. Many of us are going full lengths to making themselves legible and agreeable just so they can tell their stories. These stories are sacred. They are of pain, loss and suffrage, and they should be heard and dealt with the utmost care and respect.

My main hope is that you read through these statements, consider them carefully, and respond through future policy or, if I may ambitiously hope, opinion pieces. Palestinians such as myself understand the importance of hearing Palestinian voices and, for that, I lend mine to you for your reflection and, hopefully, change for the better.

About Eman Ghanayem

Eman Ghanayem is a PhD candidate in English with minors in American Indian Studies and Gender and Women’s Studies at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign. For her dissertation project, she is looking into Indigenous literatures in the modern settler state using the US and Israel as her primary sites of comparisons.

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105 Responses

  1. AddictionMyth
    March 23, 2017, 10:34 am

    I believe the solution is one-state with full and equal rights for all including freedom of speech and religion without ‘hate crime’ or ‘incitement’ exceptions. Having said that, I probably violate most of these ‘suggestions’ on a daily basis. Beware the thought police. Or as a wise man once explained, “It is what it is.”

  2. lyn117
    March 23, 2017, 11:16 am

    I fully understand you don’t want the area referred to as Israel/Palestine, but how should I refer to it, in particular when speaking to people who are really familiar with Israel, but not so much Palestine? You have a lot of recommendations on what not to do, and a lot fewer of what to do.

    I’m happy to argue with anyone who denies that the Palestinian people are the area’s indigenous people. A helpful way of educating the ignorant would be useful.

    • eljay
      March 23, 2017, 11:52 am

      || lyn117: I fully understand you don’t want the area referred to as Israel/Palestine, but how should I refer to it, in particular when speaking to people who are really familiar with Israel, but not so much Palestine? You have a lot of recommendations on what not to do, and a lot fewer of what to do. … ||

      Good point.

      As for “Middle East” vs. “Arab World”, in my (admittedly limited) experience the two terms are pretty much interchangeable so – in my most humble opinion – using the latter instead of the former won’t change a thing as far as the perceptions of “Westerners” are concerned (i.e., the “Arab World” has just as many “dangerous Islamic fundamentalists” in it as the “Middle East” does).

      • lyn117
        March 23, 2017, 5:44 pm

        Then there are those who think “Arab” and “Muslim” are interchangeable…

        I sometimes try to get by with “historic Palestine” instead of “Israel/Palestine”, but then people make even more ridiculous claims, such as “Jordan is Palestine”

      • Stephen Shenfield
        March 23, 2017, 9:35 pm

        “Arab world” is obviously suitable in many contexts but not all. “Middle East” overlaps with “Arab world” but does not include the whole of north Africa — is Morocco in the Middle East? Persia (Iran) has its own non-Arab cultural identity and is usually seen as part of the Middle East. Then there is the matter of large non-Arab minorities like the Kurds. “Middle East” has the advantage of encompassing these non-Arab components. True, it assumes a Western or European vantage point. How about “West Asia”?

      • silamcuz
        March 24, 2017, 3:31 am

        Hi Stephen, a more appropriate term would be SWANA which stands for South West Asia and North Afrika.

      • eljay
        March 24, 2017, 9:49 am

        || lyn117: Then there are those who think “Arab” and “Muslim” are interchangeable… ||

        Yup. And that might have something to do with the fact that “The majority of people in the Arab world adhere to Islam, and the religion has official status in most countries.”

    • echinococcus
      March 24, 2017, 2:19 am

      Lyn,

      How about “Palestine”?

      Why would people who recognize a legitimacy to colonialist conquest and its fancy nationalist renaming support the resistance?

      • lyn117
        March 24, 2017, 12:41 pm

        I like “Palestine,” it’s explaining it to others that I get in trouble.

        I suppose there’s always those you can’t talk to.

      • echinococcus
        March 24, 2017, 2:49 pm

        It’s a 3-word explanation: Invaded by aliens.

    • German Lefty
      March 24, 2017, 7:39 pm

      “You have a lot of recommendations on what not to do, and a lot fewer of what to do.”
      Right! There are so many recommendations on what not to do that I get the impression that the author doesn’t want us to do anything at all.
      How else are we supposed to refer to the region if not “Israel/Palestine”? Only saying “Palestine” doesn’t work because then the other person thinks that I only talk about the West Bank and Gaza. Only saying “Israel” doesn’t work because then the other person thinks that I only talk about the area within the Green Line, perhaps plus settlements. The phrase “the area of historic Palestine” would be too long. Also, the expression “Israel/Palestine” does NOT imply that Israel and Palestine are equal entities. In my opinion, “Israel/Palestine” is the most unambiguous and practical term for that area, whether Palestinians like it or not. Using the terms that actually work should have priority over using the terms that Palestinians like. Palestinian rights are more important than Palestinian feelings. We should be pragmatic here. In order to convince fellow westerners of anti-Zionism, we need to use the terms that westerners understand, even if Palestinians don’t like them. “Israel/Palestine” is one of these terms. Westerners know better (than Palestinians) which terms work to convince fellow westerners. Therefore, Palestinians should listen to us on that subject.
      Regarding “Arab world”: People who use this term usually get accused of racism, i.e. “Don’t throw all Arabs/Arab countries into the same pot. There are so many differences between the people and the countries that you can’t just refer to them as ‘Arab world’ as if they were all the same.” Therefore, “Middle East” or (in Germany) “Near East” are the terms that are used.

  3. Joe Catron
    March 23, 2017, 5:00 pm

    Much of this is quite good. However, I don’t know what to make of this part:

    “It is quite appropriate that Palestinians demand that people know the full history of their struggle before they jump into supporting it”

    I have significant gaps in my knowledge, as does nearly every other activist I know, including all but a few elder Palestinians!

    • Ray984954
      March 24, 2017, 11:55 am

      Ilan Pappe’s The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine. References in his book is also informative. There’s other groups/sources like The Rachel Corrie Foundation, she gave her life for the self determination and freedom of Palestinians, specifically blocking a weaponised 2 story Caterpillar bulldozer demolishing the home of a Pharmacist and his family. Israel wasn’t held accountable for her ‘murder’ by their court system.
      Like any group, Palestinians are no monolith, cookie cutter society, and are as diverse as any group. I have heard some say, questioning why is this Jewish group mistreating their people. There’s but one side to this Palestine issue, and it’s that of justice. From the start Zionists behaved the same as white Europeans did to Native Americans,claiming a mandate from their god to go the distance to the Pacific Ocean settling the land as their own and anyone living there already was ignored, disregarded, and all colonialism is just that of forcing the indigenous peoples from their land and plundering their resources.
      Personally, my battle as a nonPalestinian is to follow the lead of Palestinians,whatever their class. And some of the mixed Jewish and Palestinian Activist leaders like Miko Peled, Ilan Pappe, Edward Said, Gideon Levy(first ones that came to mind),and especially those on social media who live in Gaza,Jerusalem,Camps,and those who farm the land, only to have settlers and IDF uproot trees, long standing decades old.
      Abby Martin on telesur Empire Files somewhat recently on youtube, has done some excellent reporting of the conditions, the people, the history, and yes the cruelty and inhuman actions of settlers, soldiers, cops and others against the Palestinians,
      hope this helps, FWIW, I shed deeply saddened tears over many events there, as did the UN worker and reporter for PressTV in the 2014 summer massacre, with Obama claiming how sad kids deaths were and then okaying more ammo for the zionists. Finally though Palestinians aren’t invisible as they once were.
      Thnx to Eman Ghanayem, it’s important what she’s done here.

  4. sawah
    March 23, 2017, 6:44 pm

    Americans, in particular, are also affected by Zionism and the state of Israel, which governs not only our foreign policy but sometimes our domestic policy . On some level we are all in this together.

    Of course we need to follow the Palestinian’s lead when advocating on their behalf. There was a time we had to defend our activist actions in the US in the face of very few Palestinians stepping up. We were told they would lose their jobs etc …we understood and were/are willing to ‘make noise’ on their behalf. So historically perhaps international activists have been winging it…but it is, for the most part, because we care.

    So information is most appreciated. I wish more suggestions were provided to us in the article, but will start with this:
    If ‘civil society’ doesn’t work for the Palestinians, what word or phrase does work ?

  5. Kay24
    March 23, 2017, 10:50 pm

    Israeli arrested for over 100 threatening calls in some nations including the US. Now if this was a Muslim they would call it terrorism, this guy’s crime has been justified as a mental issue.
    Ironic.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/jcc-threats-arrest_us_58d3c45ce4b02d33b748ffda?ynf213nkewy8vkj4i&

    • Citizen
      March 29, 2017, 3:45 pm

      Yes, the US mainstream press has not bothered to cover the key Jewish guy responsible, but it had previously forced Trump to address the groundswell of Jew hatred threats; turns out his original suspicion of the source was correct, but there’s been no followup by him or the mainstream press. The alternative press just says the dual citizen kid had a brain tumor and that somehow his daddy was involved and was also arrested. Anybody got more info?

  6. quequeque
    March 23, 2017, 11:51 pm

    The “Arab World” is not only the Arab World, it also contains Jews, Kurds, Copts, Turks, Armenians, Assyrians, etc. Middle East is the better term.

    • Stephen Shenfield
      March 24, 2017, 6:21 pm

      I have read that some Palestinians (clearly not the writer of this article) refuse to identify as Arabs by way of protest against the lack of effective solidarity from the “Arab world.” I think this stance makes political sense because it is the most direct challenge to the Zionists’ preference for calling Palestinians simply Arabs and not Palestinians at all, as they don’t want to recognize Palestinian as a valid identity. Historically the Palestinians may have been just a local subgroup of the Arabs, but these things can and do change. The separation between the specific Palestinian and the general Arab identity is a result of Zionism.

      • German Lefty
        March 24, 2017, 8:55 pm

        I totally agree. By referring to Palestinians as “Arabs”, you just help the Zionists.

      • diasp0ra
        March 27, 2017, 3:28 am

        @SS

        I assure you this is quite a small minority. Vast majority of Palestinians are Arabs and identify as such. But they also identify as Palestinians. They are not mutually exclusive, and one does not have to overwrite the other.

        Referring to us as only Arabs though, as you said, is a deliberate tactic by Israel.

        I feel like the term “Arab world” has reached its limit in usefulness. It emerged in a time of ethnic nationalism, which we are today trying to get over. MENA should be a home for all its residents.

      • Citizen
        March 29, 2017, 3:50 pm

        yes, by this time it’s accurate to single out Palestinians from all Arabs as it is to single out Israeli Jews from all Jews. Prior to 1948 neither status existed.

    • talknic
      March 25, 2017, 2:10 am

      Israeli Jews from the Arab states alone numbered about 500,000 in 1948/50. No amount of Hasbara, ignorance and bullsh*t will rid the Israeli Jewish population of their Arab DNA, which by now has spread far and wide.

      http://wp.me/pDB7k-19Y

  7. eisaacs
    March 24, 2017, 12:04 am

    There are many oppressed and/or colonized peoples in the world, from Palestinians in the Occupied Territories and in Israel, to Native Americans or African Americans in the US to Aborigines in Australia, to the poor in India. Each of these peoples has a unique history and culture, yet each is the victim of capitalist and imperialist oppression. In fact, the workers of the imperialist nations are also the victims of exploitation and oppression, from the U.S. to China to Israel. Despite our differences of dress, language, culture or appearance, we are all humans with similar desires for a safe and secure life, the love of family, productive work, and the respect and comradeship of our fellow workers. Those wealthy and self-serving bosses who dominate us in every country have only their own interests at heart, but in many cases they have convinced us to unite with them on the basis of nationalism and to see other workers as our enemies, rather than them.

    The author is correct when she says there are differences amongst Palestinians, for Palestine is ruled by an elite and corrupt few who spend much of their budget on police to control their own people and collude with the Israeli colonizers. Such is most often the case in colonies. In the imperialist nations, the police and military serve to repress rebellion at home and export oppression abroad, winning enlistment on the basis of patriotism. The point is that workers, students, and farmers of the world must unite together in struggle, recognize who our enemies are, and be enriched by the multiplicity of our cultures. We must not fear to support each other’s struggles. We must not fear to learn from the failed or victorious struggles of others or silence any voice simply because we may come from different cultures. Unless we recognize our unity as workers we will not have a chance to defeat the monsters of international imperialism, who are bound to destroy our planet, be it through war or climate change.

  8. lsavage
    March 24, 2017, 5:04 am

    Thank you for contributing to my education. I have wondered about many of these terms and often felt that my own ignorance was a barrier to participating as an ally of Palestine’s liberation movement.

  9. broadside
    March 24, 2017, 10:14 am

    All good points. And may I say to you: you’ve got to start developing some talking points. Fifty years of occupation later, and I can’t think of a single Palestinian talking point. That all can’t be blamed on a Jewish media.

    Talking points begin and end w staying on message. If a Palestinian leader/spokesman speaking to the NY Times says, “I cannot believe the power of Israel’s lobby to again and again go against the interests of the American people — and no one says anything!” and, “Everyone knows seeking peace is going to take work and sacrifices on both sides” — which quote do you think the NY Times is going to go with?

    The key to talking points — give them no options!

    P.S. This guy Gorsuch is a total creep.

    • echinococcus
      March 24, 2017, 11:03 am

      Seventy.

    • Ray984954
      March 24, 2017, 12:14 pm

      ‘Palestinian self determination and Freedom’ is as close to the facts of what’s being fought for, and implies Freedom of movement, controlling one’s own life and direction. Just occurred to me,Malcolm X had a few things to say about this kind of thing. As a matter of fact Greenville SC,Director Efia Nwangaza did/oes a radio show at the Malcolm X Center for Self Determination WMXP 95.5 FM. I donated a little for their failing transmitter a few years ago. Odd, I had forgotten about that. Efia is a real fighter and advocate…and Attorney. Peace

      • broadside
        March 24, 2017, 1:47 pm

        “‘Palestinian self determination and Freedom’ is as close to the facts of what’s being fought for, and implies Freedom of movement, controlling one’s own life and direction. ”

        Sorry. Can’t compare to “Every country has the right to defend itself” (aka, an occupying power slaughtering thousands of civilians), or “use as human shields” (aka, sitting down to dinner with your family).

    • Citizen
      March 29, 2017, 4:01 pm

      I agree both actual Palestinians and their foreign supporters should immediately bring up the power of the Israel Lobby and US complicit main media, constantly. Followed by what US taxpayers pay for this injustice, which is $171 Billion to date, not counting interest and indirect funding of the Zionist agenda.

  10. jd65
    March 24, 2017, 10:58 am

    Congrats and thank you Eman. To my mind, this is the best piece of writing I’ve read on MW for a while. Thorough, thoughtful, direct. I have minor quibbles here and there, but for the most part you’ve expressed ideas and attitudes about the ISM and the U.S. role in it that I share with you and have had in my head for a long time.

    All the best to you. Maybe our paths will cross sometime – I’m just northwest of you in Bloomington :)

  11. I find this confusing. Palestinians, including those in the BDS movement, use some of these words and terms. So, who decided they are no longer acceptable? The term “Palestinian civil society” comes right from the mission statement of the BDS movement. the Middle East is a real place. I don’t think of Palestinian as Arabs, because they speak Arabic, anymore than I think of Americans as Brits because we speak English, or Mexicans as Spaniards. Are we now supposed to call Palestinians Arabs? The many Palestinians I know say they are from Palestine, not the Arabic-speaking world. I have never been a fan of political correctness. Just of justice and truth and a good sense of humor.

    • Ray984954
      March 24, 2017, 12:22 pm

      Look, she has suggested to you and others information that is to bring folks together in Solidarity, use it or lose it but don’t quibble and abuse it. She did explain. Perhaps she’ll reply and further explain for you. The goal of what she wrote is lessen any confusion, and if it doesn’t work for you, don’t accept its usage, but do try not to confuse others.

      • gamal
        March 24, 2017, 3:11 pm

        I think it important that we concentrate on what divides us, Arab you know is very controversial

        “شو يعني انا عربية؟”
        “ايش قصدك يعني؟”
        .اخ يا قلبي

      • jd65
        March 24, 2017, 5:14 pm

        @ / for gamal:

        “شو يعني انا عربية؟” “ايش قصدك يعني؟” .اخ يا قلبي

      • YoniFalic
        March 24, 2017, 5:19 pm

        At least Arab unlike Jew has reasonable legitimate ethnic and linguistic meaning.

      • gamal
        March 25, 2017, 10:27 am

        yeah i know what i mean and not just what i think i mean, thanks

        heart and dog are so close in Arabic

      • jd65
        March 25, 2017, 3:32 pm

        @ gamal: I know you know :)

      • Annie Robbins
        April 1, 2017, 12:24 pm

        i didn’t think lois was trying to confuse. she said she was confused and she explained why. and i had the very same reaction to the authors instruction to reconsider the “constant inclination to address” palestinian civil society. the term came into common parlance of activists due to the BDS movement’s identification. and frankly, i think the author has a misconception of what “civil society” means. the term doesn’t reflect “the civil” vs the uncivil or uneducated within society, as she implies here:

        There has never been a consensus among Palestinians themselves about what constitutes Palestine’s “civil society.” In fact, the term itself stands as a sharp contradiction to the history of Palestinian resistance that was mostly led by rebels who hailed from farming communities with little to no access to education and fortune.

        the definition of civil society (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Civil_society) very much includes farming communities (and their rebels) with little or no access to education and fortune. what is does not include (or imply) is government officials (public sector), big business or the elite (private sector). furthermore, there doesn’t have to be a “consensus among Palestinians” of what constitutes civil society for one to exist (again, it includes farmers and uneducated people, it doesn’t exclude them), what civil society means is the “aggregate of non-governmental organizations and institutions that manifest interests and will of citizens.” or “A civil society is comprised of groups or organizations working in the interest of the citizens but operating outside of the governmental and for-profit sectors“. if a civil society had to come to consensus on most or all things no one would have one. however, as long as they have a common interest (which i believe they do, ie to end the occupation, their human rights etc) and are not part of the ruling party or working in their capacity in interest of a for-profit organization, they are part of civil society. for example:

        from hatim kanaaneh, “By their bulldozers you will know them” http://mondoweiss.net/2017/01/their-bulldozers-will/ talking about the village response to the first home bulldozed in Arrabeh, in the early 50’s:

        In Arrabeh, that same Saturday, our newly enforced day of rest, Ammu Fayez let out another early-morning call for help from the minaret of the mosque asking all skilled construction workers in the village, which meant nearly all its able bodied men, to donate their labor that day to the ‘bereaved’ Helous. Before sundown the house was up again and the concrete roof fully in place. A festive meal was enjoyed by all and the Helous went on to beget a veritable clan at the center of a new neighborhood in Arrabeh with many illegally built residences. A similar fate awaited the poor widow in the neighboring village.

        these were members of the civil society rebuilding a home. they are working in the interest of their society. of course, some of these same people might have for-profit jobs elsewhere.

        as far as i know, this is the definition of civil society, which includes labor unions and churches/mosques etc. it definitely includes poor farming communities (and the revolutionaries that hail from them).

        while i am sure the authors goal was to lesson confusion, in questioning her ideas or her meaning one should not assume those questions are meant to abuse, confuse or quibble, but to clarify.

    • echinococcus
      March 24, 2017, 3:35 pm

      Who decides what is acceptable? You.

      You may decide to follow those Palestinian traitors who are collaborating with the invader and policing the population on behalf of the US and the Zionist entity.

      You may decide to follow Palestinians who, like for example the official BDS outfit, operate openly under the control of the Zionists and their collaborationists, subject to all kinds of restrictions to their program and their freedom –see the Barghouti arrest. Or then, you may decide to throw in your lot with any of the remaining organizations, clandestine or exiled, that are operating outside Zionist and US control. A wide range of choice.

      Essentially, though, it all boils down to one question common to all:

      Given that invader presence in Palestine has not been authorized by the Palestinian people according to its right to self-determination, who is to authorize it,
      or is that a quaint and Donquichottesque question irrelevant to Western “supporters”, given that we here have decided for the Palestinians that the invaders have somehow earned the right to remain?

      • YoniFalic
        March 24, 2017, 4:35 pm

        I don’t bother with these issues.

        I as ex-Jew ex-Israeli emphasize that after Auschwitz it was vile & criminal to found a state in post-Auschwitz genocide.

        I point out that the continued existence of the State of Israel is incompatible with a genuine system of international law.

        No one can take international anti-genocide law seriously as long as Israel exists and the invader population continues to live in the ME.

        As a JD-PhD, both

        1) who specializes in Jewish (not ME history) and in international law and also

        2) whose family was almost entirely wiped out in the Holocaust,

        I view it as a categorical imperative to make genocide unthinkable.

        This program is unachievable unless the human race reflexively both

        1) views Zionism and Israel as criminal and also

        2) considers all Zios to be criminal enemies of the human race.

        BTW, I am watching Pappe right now.

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7miCSw78btI

        He is not where I am in terms of legal political position, but he is getting there.

      • JWalters
        March 26, 2017, 7:46 pm

        YoniFalic,

        Thanks for your superb comment. I hope you’ll repeat this periodically for newly arriving Mondoweiss readers.

      • Citizen
        March 29, 2017, 4:16 pm

        I agree with YoniFalic; this, after being on MW since 2008 and researching the issue myself all years since, although I am not Jewish, I am interested in justice and where my tax money goes as an American. Hannah Arendt was way ahead of most folks on this issue.

    • gamal
      March 24, 2017, 6:27 pm

      “I find this confusing.”

      if you want some inkling of what the issues are, at least to those in the region you could try

      “Pan-Islamism or Pan-Arabism? The 1931 Jerusalem Islamic Congress Reconsidered”

      by

      Weldon C Matthews.

      its a start there is a whole lot more, but you know one thing leads to another and when you know nothing you have to start somewhere.

      “I don’t think of Palestinian as Arabs, because they speak Arabic, anymore than I think of Americans as Brits because we speak English, or Mexicans as Spaniards”

      and where do Arabs come from?

      “I don’t think of Palestinian as Arabs”

      a) sadly it is not possible to confect a fiercely politically contested identity in a highly contested environment out of what you think

      “because they speak Arabic” what other way is there of being Arab?

      clearly a lot of people posting here have no idea about the history of these de-Arabizing ideas and what they will mean to the region and who it is enthuses about them, pffft 7th century interlopers and all.

      and yet again astonishingly many people do not know what Arab means and are more than happy to lecture Arabs about it.

      its fucking weird,

      also

      point 5 is crucial, the Arab working classes are invisible here, class is far and away the most important divisor in the Arab world and there is a lively class war and always has been for as long as we can recall, we don’t get treated right and you can believe me we don’t take it lying down so far in my lifetime anyway we just keep getting in to deeper and deeper shit,

      you could try

      Plebeians of the Arab Spring by Asaf Bayat

      over and out.

      • Annie Robbins
        April 1, 2017, 12:44 pm

        thanks gamal, great comment. and btw, the very first definition of arab i ever read was ‘people who speak arabic’, so of course palestinians are arabs and part of ‘the arab world’. they are right in the center (heart) of it.

      • RoHa
        April 2, 2017, 1:33 am

        “the very first definition of arab i ever read was ‘people who speak arabic’,”

        Same for me, Annie. First from Lawrence, and then from Atiyah.

        T. E. Lawrence in Chapter 2 of Seven Pillars of Wisdom says “Being a manufactured people, their name had been changing in sense slowly year by year. Once it meant an Arabian. There was a country called Arabia; but this was nothing to the point. There was a language called Arabic; and in it lay the test.” (P 33 of the 1935 impression, Jonathan Cape, London.)

        Edward Atiyah, in the intro to his book The Arabs* gives three meanings for the term “Arab”.
        1. The desert nomads of the Peninsula.
        2. The people of the Peninsula, regarded as something like a racial group.
        3. “But in its most significant and common use to-day the word ‘Arab’ designates a culture group – namely, all that part of the Middle East and North Africa (in addition, of course, to Arabia itself) which was permanently Arabized by the Muslim-Arab conquests of the seventh and eighth centuries A.D. The process of Arabization was accomplished in three principal ways: (i) racial mixing by intermarriage between Arab conquerors and the peoples of the lands they conquered and settled in , (ii) the establishment of Arabic as the universal language of all the conquered countries, and (iii) the conversion of the vast majority of the population to Islam.” (op.cit., P8, my emphasis)

        *Penguin Books, 1958

      • Maghlawatan
        April 2, 2017, 3:32 pm

        I have spoken to a lot of Lebanese, Egyptians and Palestinians about the arab thing. Egyptians I have met insist they are Nile valley people. They circumcise women and Saudis do not. There is the whole g instead of j thing. I think arabic is just their language, like a light film over their culture. Egypt has a deep culture that Saudi desert people do not.

        The Lebanese I have met say they are Phoenician. Mostly Christian I think. And I wouldn’t argue with them. Syria is the Shaam. So is Lebanon. So are Jordan and Palestine . The Shaam is different.

        The Palestinians sometimes say they are arab but Palestine is a crossroads space and an awful lot of different peoples have passed through.

        French is spoken in Belgium but Belgian French speakers are not French. Swiss French speakers are definitely not French. Quoi.

      • RoHa
        April 2, 2017, 9:44 pm

        “French is spoken in Belgium but Belgian French speakers are not French. Swiss French speakers are definitely not French. ”

        Has the standard definition of “Frenchman/woman” ever been “speaks French as first language”?

      • gamal
        April 2, 2017, 10:49 pm

        oh “French”

        16-1700
        “At the time, French, although an official language, was still little used, even in France. It was the language of the court, the aristocracy and middle class, literature, and academia, but was spoken by fewer than one million out of the 20 million inhabitants of France, or 5% of the population. Given that nobles numbered only about 4,000 at the court, it was the middle class and merchants who, in absolute numbers, spoke French the most.”

        1715-89

        “it is estimated that fewer than 3 million people could speak and understand French at the time out of a total population of 25 million, or 12%. The people did not speak the “King’s language,” but rather a popular, non-standard form of French peppered with provincialisms and slang. Only the provinces of Île-de-France, Champagne, Beauce, Maine, Anjou, Touraine, and Berry were relatively French-speaking

        Most of the people who lived in Normandy, Lorraine, Poitou, and Burgundy, on the other hand, spoke half-patois. They practised a form of bilingualism, speaking “patois” (derived from Latin, like French) among themselves, but being able to understand French.

        In southern France, the “patois” were the only languages used in the countryside throughout the 18th century. Even the aristocracy and middle classes, who had been introduced to French the previous century, continued to use their local “patois” in daily life.”

        “The War on Dialects

        On the eve of the Revolution, France was still the most populous country in Europe (26 million inhabitants) and one of the richest. But revolt was brewing. Peasants made up 80% of the population and paid the lion’s share of royal taxes—plus tithes to the Church and seigniorial dues—while earning the lowest income. The middle class held almost all economic power, but was excluded from political power. Meanwhile, the nobility lived in idleness, and the Church owned 10% of the most profitable lands in the country.

        It is hardly surprising then that popular revolts erupted, particularly seeing how long the middle classes had been preparing them. The people were the ones who seized the Bastille on July 14, 1789, executed Louis XVI, and for all intents and purposes made the Revolution, but it was the middle classes who seized power and imposed their form of language.”

        https://slmc.uottawa.ca/?q=french_history

        you see most French are not even French, I am not sure what we should do about it, how can we free the Bretons, Normans, Picardi, Provençal, Gascons, Basques, etc from the Gallic oppression. Should we even try?

        and the Gascons have that anomaly.

      • Maghlawatan
        April 3, 2017, 3:13 am

        Defined by whom? Calling all Arabic speakers Arab is Orientalism.

      • Maghlawatan
        April 3, 2017, 4:27 am

        RoHa, Iraqis are all supposed to be Arabs. In the Nineveh plain near Mosul for example there are many different peoples including Assyrians, Kurds, Turkmens, Shabaks, Yazidis, Armenians and Mandeans. According to your definition they are all Arabs. Cop on

      • gamal
        April 3, 2017, 2:24 pm

        “Defined by whom? Calling all Arabic speakers Arab is Orientalism”

        ok,

        “Egyptians I have met insist they are Nile valley people. They circumcise women and Saudis do not. There is the whole g instead of j thing. I think arabic is just their language, like a light film over their culture. Egypt has a deep culture that Saudi desert people do not.

        The Lebanese I have met say they are Phoenician. Mostly Christian I think. And I wouldn’t argue with them. Syria is the Shaam. So is Lebanon. So are Jordan and Palestine . The Shaam is different.”

        are you trying to murder irony! more than hint of Orientalism in all that.

        “Iraqis are all supposed to be Arabs. In the Nineveh plain near Mosul for example there are many different peoples including Assyrians, Kurds, Turkmens, Shabaks, Yazidis, Armenians and Mandeans. According to your definition they are all Arabs. Cop on”

        who says all supposed to be anything, what do you think the policy implications of this identity hockey is going to be?

        Arabians as “desert people” you say really Mag, Nile valley people you mean Nilo-Hamites? , are the speakers of Modern South Arabian (mehri etc, the US is building a base on Socotra so farewell Soqotri) Arabs? these questions are being loaded with all sorts of political implications.

        in the hope that i might cop something take a look at the Kurdish Academy the complexities of our identities will be the death of us, i cop that clearly enough if outsiders get to manipulate them as the US has done in Iraq and now Syria :

        “It is unclear precisely when the Shabak emerged as a distinct ethnic group, and what their ethnic background is. Likewise, the relation between the Shabak and the Bajalan (also called Bajwan) living in the Khosar valley North of Mosul, remains unclear. Sykes (1908: 456) appears to consider the two wholly distinct: he lists 800 Bejwan families, who ‘speak a mixed language, apparently half Arabic, half Kurdish, said by neighbours to be of Turkish origin and to be followers of Hajji Bektash’. MacKenzie 1956, by contrast, uses the two names as practically synonymous, or, perhaps, ‘Shabak’ as the word by which they call themselves, and ‘Bajalan’ as the name given them by their (Arab) neighbours. Undoubtedly, the two groups are quite closely related, but there is reason to keep them apart: the Bajalani vernacular is linguistically quite close to, but not identical with, the Shabak dialect (see 5 5).2 The Bajalan, unlike the Shabak, are organized tribally, and they seem to be heterodox Sunnis rather than Shi’ites. A Shabak informant spoke of three tayfa’s of Shabak: the Shabak proper, the Bajalan, and the Zengana (which all speak Gorani), but did not elaborate on this. He also referred to the Shabak as an ashîet and as a mantiqa (territory) at times, and listed three tribes (ashket) of Shabak: the Hariri, the Gergeri, and the Mawsil î. Informants in Sfîye likewise considered the Bajalan a Shabak tribe. Taken as a whole, however, the Shabak have never been a tribe, so these remarks perhaps indicate the status of the Bajalan as a distinct tribal subgroup among the Shabak community.

        1). Unfortunately, these studies were largely inaccessible to me; Philip Kreyenbroek. kindly supplied me with Xerox copies of relevant passages from Sarraf’s book. Moosa (1988: ch. ) summarizes the main arguments of these authors.
        2). Local informants also classified Rojbeyani as a Gorani dialect, which would make it a close relative of Shabaki and Bajaiani, but I was not able to collect any samples to verify this claim.

        Locals see the very name Shabak, which they derive from Arabic shabaka. ‘to intertwine’, as an indication that the Shabak are composed of many different tribes (cf. Vinogradov 1974: 210). For nationalists of various kinds, it has been tempting to overemphasize one of these component features, and to claim that the Shabak are ‘really’ Arabs, or Kurds, or Turkomans.

        Although the Shabak’s religious beliefs seem to be comparable to those of other groups with a Qizilbash background, so little is known with certainty that I will abstain from a more detailed description. The Shabak with whom I spoke were reluctant to talk about their religion, and claimed to be ‘just Muslims’. Their social organization appears to be much like that of a Sufi order: adult laymen (mur îds) are bound to spiritual guides (pîs or murshîds) who are knowledgeable in matters of religious doctrine and ritual. There are several ranks of such pîs; at the top stands the Baba, or supreme head of the order. Theoretically individuals can choose their own pîr, but in practice the par families often become associated with lay families over several generations, and thus help to give some social coherence to the otherwise rather loose community”

        http://www.kurdishacademy.org/?q=node/133

      • Maghlawatan
        April 3, 2017, 3:47 pm

        Identity exists on different levels

    • German Lefty
      March 24, 2017, 8:50 pm

      I totally agree with Lois5.

      • Citizen
        March 29, 2017, 4:19 pm

        Who?

      • Mooser
        March 29, 2017, 7:08 pm

        “Who?”

        [email protected]” at March 24, 2017, 11:21 am, above. The comment-reply nesting is confusing sometimes. It’s upthread.

  12. MHughes976
    March 24, 2017, 5:38 pm

    I think we have to bother with some questions of what is appropriate language because language can so much encode unnoticed or taken-for-granted ideas. On the other hand, I think that those of us who are trying to loosen the iron grip in the West of certain ideas – to persuade people that Zionism is morally false and that the Palestinians are being grievously wronged – need to use language that is understood in the West and refers to values that the West at least pretends to support.

  13. gamal
    March 24, 2017, 8:25 pm

    i have 2 articles, hope it doesn’t provoke Arab induced depression but shit is getting dire, both these articles will reward a close reading.

    khoury, Palestinian:

    ” I don’t think the old elites should be rehabilitated. They’re one of the main reasons for the present situation in the Arab world. They need to have a radical rethink, like in the case of the Tunisian president Béji Caid Essebsi. But for most of them, there’s no going back. They ought to be deposed and brought to justice for their atrocities before the International Court of Justice. The old elites are no longer the only players using violence on a grand scale, along with the “Islamic State” and other radical Islamic groups. Yet that shouldn’t make their reputation any better. Assad has no future in Syria. His regime consists of just about 150,000 soldiers and the old secret services, which only control a third of the country now. And Assad has only managed to hold on in Damascus because he has support from the Lebanese Hezbollah, Iran and Russia. Purely theoretically, he’s not even Syrian president any more, and he certainly shouldn’t be rehabilitated under any circumstances.”

    https://en.qantara.de/content/interview-with-rami-g-khouri-fragmentation-of-the-arab-world

    Usman: Egyptian

    “For example, Islamists in secular and tribal Arab countries are consistently portrayed as traitors to nationalism. This conflict between political Islam and nationalist forces cuts the Arab world when every single ideology that has ever inspired loyalty in the region is either bankrupt or discredited. This creates an identity vacuum.

    Demographics make matters worse. The vast majority of the 180 million Arabs under 35 years old came of age in the last two decades, when political legitimacy across the region has been weakened, power and wealth blurred, republics turned into familial fiefdoms, and corruption and abuse of power reached shocking levels. The events of the last four years have exacerbated the situation. In this period, close to 40 million young Arabs (mainly in Iraq, Libya, Syria, and Yemen) have come to live in regions without central authority or rule of law. The notion of belonging to a state and any affiliation to any non-religious or non-tribal identity is crumbling.”

    http://www.tarekosman.com/the-two-futures-of-the-arab-world/

    • Citizen
      March 29, 2017, 4:22 pm

      Yes, many in the population of LIBYA, SYRIA, YEMEN, to only mention the most erupt, have no clue why anyone would identity with a state as envisioned by the West. The West made this reality.

    • Annie Robbins
      April 1, 2017, 1:12 pm

      the khoury quote is 2 years old. while it may have made sense 2 years ago, referencing assad, to use the phase “he certainly shouldn’t be rehabilitated”, i’m not sure how accurate that phrasing is today because “rehabilitate” implies he’s lost or is out of power and he’s not. they’ve never been able to dislodge him so how could he be rehabilitated? i wonder if khouri might rephrase it now, or if he even would.

      his comments about the old elites and how “They need to have a radical rethink” is smart. if only!

      • gamal
        April 1, 2017, 1:54 pm

        do you know something Annie i ended up at khouri because i wanted to say something about Akram Zuatir the editor of mirat al sharq (mirror of the east briefly before the British punished him) and his attempt to get the effendis and others who had jobs from Britain to follow Gandhis model of united nationalist struggle against the British Empire, at the same time as Gandhi, then i was overcome with a sense of futility and irritably settled for khouri,

        my bad.

      • Annie Robbins
        April 1, 2017, 2:05 pm

        i generally appreciate khouri’s analysis gamal. i’ve been reading him a long time and he’s the brother of a friend of mine. a lots changed over the last few years in syria (albeit a lot has remained the same too) and i was just wondering if he’d amend his phrasing given the circumstances.

      • gamal
        April 1, 2017, 10:20 pm

        “I’ve been reading him a long time and he’s the brother of a friend of mine”

        for gods sake Annie you more Arab than me, its all about who you know, you know how the pressure drop ( on you) , all my close Arabs are dead, just a Londoner now.

        Respect Annie

        https://youtu.be/NnRWvVp15NM

    • Maghlawatan
      April 3, 2017, 3:55 pm

      I think neoliberalism has been a disaster for the Middle East. Non core countries did a lot better out of the previous economic system. Money was available and it wasn’t just invested in debt and property bubbles. Musical quality was higher too . It’s very hard to imagine Lebanon producing someone like Fairuz today.
      Egypt now is a catastrophe. Population growth is out of control. And the political system is paralysed. Sisi will not fix anything so the next explosion will be far worse than 2011.

  14. German Lefty
    March 24, 2017, 8:45 pm

    “It is quite appropriate that Palestinians demand that people know the full history of their struggle before they jump into supporting it.”

    The list of demands in that letter is so long that it prevents activism rather than facilitating it. It’s really not helpful, also because the list focuses on DON’Ts and not on DOs.
    I started supporting Palestinian rights and having online discussions with Zionists BEFORE I had “sufficient” knowledge about that topic. For me, it was learning by doing. The discussions with Zionists actually helped me acquire more knowledge about the topic because I had to research counterarguments to their statements and in the course of the discussions I had to make up my mind on certain issues, such as violent resistance. Without these “practice discussions” with Zionists I would have never bothered to develop an opinion on “details” like violent resistance. I would have never reached the level of knowledge that I now have. Also, the hysteric and insulting way in which the Zionists “argued” with me made me more determined to support Palestinian rights and to learn more about the history of Palestine.
    I assume that very many anti-Zionist activists started out as liberal Zionist activists. And it’s precisely that activism – and the things they learned DURING their activism – that ultimately turned them into anti-Zionists.
    What I am trying to say is this: If you want to eliminate all the learning-by-doing activists, then you only have a handful of activists left. And I don’t think that this handful would be enough to achieve equal rights for Palestinians.

    • Citizen
      March 29, 2017, 4:25 pm

      So power is all?

    • Annie Robbins
      April 1, 2017, 1:33 pm

      speaking of “DOs”, i just got an email from Omar Barghouti, sent out on his list serve after finally being able to access his computer. this is part of it:

      Many of you have asked how best you can support me to face this latest persecution. My answer is, without hesitation … more BDS!

      We need to expand, mainstream and build on our many inspiring BDS campaigns, academic, cultural and economic, as the most effective way to respond to the new McCarthyism designed by Israel’s regime of occupation, settler-colonialism and apartheid and exported to states where its lobby groups enjoy massive influence.

      Further growing our movement for freedom, justice and equality is the answer.

      Highlighting and popularizing the recent, unprecedented verdict by a UN body that Israel is guilty of apartheid — the second most serious crime against humanity in international law — is the answer.

      Countering their racism, hate, “black lists” and ugly colonial repression with our inclusiveness, categorical rejection of all forms of racism, and our boundless passion for freedom and justice is the answer.

      Further strengthening our principled intersectional alliances with movements for indigenous, racial, economic, social, gender, climate and other forms of justice is our loudest response to their xenophobic, far-right, fascist-leaning agenda and their draconian laws.

      As they desperately attempt to sow fear and despair, to chill our free speech, to tarnish our records, and to bully us into silence, we nourish our well-founded hope with generous doses of effective, strategic, morally-consistent campaigns for justice and equality and insist on our right to freely express ourselves and to defend our rights.

      As humans, we need permission from no one to pursue our inherent rights. As human rights defenders, no degree of intimidation and bullying can deter us in our passionate, nonviolent resistance to injustice, inequality and colonial slavery.

      Alone, we fail. Together, we prevail.

      i love omar.

  15. Ara
    March 25, 2017, 12:45 am

    Oh dear. I’m sure that it wasn’t your intention, but your letter reads almost like you don’t want anyone sympathetic to the Palestinian cause to talk to average American voters (or other Westerners).

    I really think that anyone who wants to support justice (for Palestinians or for anyone else) should be speaking primarily for a general audience and the uninitiated and unconvinced — not for other activists. This means focusing on conveying the true nature of the current situation and the history — which is totally opposite most Americans’ understanding and most media portrayals — in the simplest, most familiar terms possible.

    If the goal is to actually effect change, then every time someone begins to understand the Palestinian perspective or to see Palestinians as not just terrorists or to see Israel as a settler or apartheid state — whatever is a step for them personally — is a win. Step by step, make people see.

    Take a look around. Israel is a militarily, diplomatically and financial powerful state, frighteningly so. It has unconditional support from the (all-powerful??) United States NO MATTER WHAT — vetoes, massive amounts of money, diplomatic cover and on and on. It further has extreme fealty from all major American media.

    A pessimist would say that Israel (and its most right-wing, imperialistic elements in specific, mind you) has this thing locked down solid, but I like to believe that oppression, apartheid and ethnic cleansing will out…somehow.

    Criticizing fellow activists, excluding insufficiently educated/prepared activists, or even simply focusing on fellow activists, is not the way these terrifyingly long odds will be overcome.

    Furthermore, unconditional U.S. support of Israel has driven all kinds of chains of events that have wreaked destruction on many, many other countries; killed Americans; cost Americans many billions of dollars; and advanced domestic surveillance and the curtailing of civil liberties in the United States. Americans and others should oppose this blind support of Israel for all those reasons, not just out of devotion to Palestinians.

  16. Keith
    March 25, 2017, 3:48 pm

    “Eman Ghanayem is a PhD candidate in English with minors in American Indian Studies and Gender and Women’s Studies at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign. For her dissertation project, she is looking into Indigenous literatures in the modern settler state using the US and Israel as her primary sites of comparisons.”

    Always nice to hear suggestions from those folks caught up in the struggle at Urbana-Champaign. Good luck with your PhD studies!

    • jd65
      March 25, 2017, 11:36 pm

      Just wondering:

      Always nice to hear suggestions from those folks caught up in the struggle at Urbana-Champaign. Good luck with your PhD studies!

      This reads, possibly, like sarcasm. Often, the internet doesn’t translate so well. So I’m just wanting to know…

      • Mooser
        March 26, 2017, 2:01 pm

        “This reads, possibly, like sarcasm”

        Or too much coffee. It’s an environmental hazard in Seattle.

      • Keith
        March 26, 2017, 4:32 pm

        JD65- “This reads, possibly, like sarcasm.”

        The article reads like an excessively wordy exercise in political correctness. Complaining about “Middle East” and “Israel/Palestine”? Jeez, give me a break. And the author arrogates unto herself the role of spokesperson for the Palestinian people. Well, who exactly is Eman Ghanayem? Hard to tell from the article, however, the author supplied bio I quoted indicates that she is a PhD student at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. This is what is being emphasized, how she sees herself. Hardly a spokesperson for the Palestinians. She is entitled to her opinion, but that is about it. And yes, I was being sarcastic. I thought that a brief hint would suffice but apparently not.

      • jd65
        March 26, 2017, 10:55 pm

        Keith:

        The article reads like an excessively wordy exercise in political correctness. Complaining about “Middle East” and “Israel/Palestine”? Jeez, give me a break. And the author arrogates unto herself the role of spokesperson for the Palestinian people. Well, who exactly is Eman Ghanayem? Hard to tell from the article, however, the author supplied bio I quoted indicates that she is a PhD student at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. This is what is being emphasized, how she sees herself. Hardly a spokesperson for the Palestinians. She is entitled to her opinion, but that is about it. And yes, I was being sarcastic. I thought that a brief hint would suffice but apparently not.

        Oh.

      • Mooser
        March 27, 2017, 12:01 pm

        You know, “Keith”, there is such a thing as de-caf.

  17. For me out here in Portland, Oregon, the biggest problem Palestinians face is of whites of finding a single Palestinian to sugar coat a liberal Zionist perspective and calling that “Pro-Palestinian”. Here, it has been a successful strategy of liberal Zionists and their “Pro Palestinian” supporters. Find one Palestinian who supports whatever Israel offers and wants, attacks the other 99% of Palestinians as anti-peace, and then talks about common ground, dialog, and reconciliation. Of course this Palestinian gains access to the city council, radio and by white power and becomes the spokesperson of all the Palestinian people locally. Sorry, at least locally, I am far less than impressed than Eman and see the local white takeover of Palestinian liberation as little more then a hostile gambit to erode essential and Universal Human Rights.

    My main point here is that activism on this issue is strongly flavored by the actual people at a local level. Her points may well be right when dealing with her cohorts in Illinois. Out here in a different part of the US, her points and ideas don’t ring true at least to this Palestinian-American-Activist’s ears.

    • Boomer
      March 26, 2017, 9:21 am

      Re: “Here, it has been a successful strategy of liberal Zionists and their “Pro Palestinian” supporters. Find one Palestinian who supports whatever Israel offers and wants, attacks the other 99% of Palestinians as anti-peace, and then talks about common ground, dialog, and reconciliation.”

      Sounds like an effective tactic. Zionists have used a variety of effective tactics to win and stay on top.

  18. JWalters
    March 26, 2017, 7:43 pm

    Eman, I appreciate your efforts on behalf of justice, and your efforts to improve the communications that support justice. My comments bwlow are made in that same spirit.

    1. A agree with the many who suggested that you state what terminology would be appropriate, not just the list of terms to avoid. In structuring your article, I would put the list of appropriate terms at the top. For many people, that is the only part of an article they will read.

    2. Spend the extra effort to make your writing as simple and clear as possible. Do not try to emulate complex, “erudite” writing. It may impress a few people at first glance, but in reality it is lazy writing. And it is not remotely as effecitive as writing that is understood immediately and effortlessly.

    3. Use the power of specific facts and concrete images as much as possible. Avoid vague generalities. General conclusions are important, but they must be based on facts.

    Best wishes!

    • RoHa
      March 26, 2017, 9:00 pm

      “Do not try to emulate complex, “erudite” writing.”

      In Eman’s defence, I will point out that, if you have been reading an awful lot of that stuff (and, worse, a lot of the awful stuff that constitutes academic prose in such fields as Gender Studies), and when you have to write that stuff for your supervisors, it can be really difficult to break the habit and revert to plain words.

      When I am so afflicted, I find that hefty doses of Thomas Paine, John Donne, Raymond Chandler, and (naturally) P. G. Wodehouse are an effective counter measure.

      • RoHa
        March 26, 2017, 9:45 pm

        Though I do not emulate Donne’s spelling or Paine’s punctuation.

      • gamal
        March 26, 2017, 10:05 pm

        “P. G. Wodehouse”

        In 1951 Sir Pelham Grenville had a minor stroke while in New York and wandered in a confused state in to a Park Avenue doctor’s office, they assumed he was an insane vagrant and began preparations to send him up the river. One of the nurses searched him to see if he had a name and finding that it was Sir PG Wodehouse announced

        “He is not a Bum! He is an Englishman”

      • RoHa
        March 27, 2017, 9:16 am

        Tiny anachronism in that story. Wodehouse was not knighted until 1975.

      • gamal
        March 27, 2017, 11:10 am

        “Wodehouse was not knighted until 1975.”

        I know I was backdating and though not ennobled he was an Englishman, even in ’51.

        also i got it from an article in a very old American magazine, do you think it was fakenews, and one anachronism is sufficient to reject a hadith, lets ask a scholar

      • Mooser
        March 27, 2017, 12:31 pm

        ““Wodehouse was not knighted until 1975.”

        Doesn’t matter. To me, and a whole bunch of other multitudes he will always be (as into my face comes “the shifty hangdog look.”) le chevalier sans peur et sans reproche!

      • Mooser
        March 27, 2017, 12:37 pm

        “I know I was backdating and though not ennobled he was an Englishman, even in ’51.”

        In 1951? Just barely, due to his poor choices while interned in France during WW2. He moved to the US and spent the rest of his life here.

      • gamal
        March 27, 2017, 1:44 pm

        “his poor choices”

        i know he was quite the scoundrel just like that Al Haji Muhammad Amin al Husseini,

        dashed inappropes

        “”Yes, sir? Pardon me, sir, but not that tie!”

        “Eh?”

        “Not that tie with the heather-mixture lounge, sir!”

        It was a shock to me. I thought I had quelled the fellow. It was rather a solemn moment. What I mean is, if I weakened now, all my good work the night before would be thrown away. I braced myself.

        “What’s wrong with this tie? I’ve seen you give it a nasty look before. Speak out like a man! What’s the matter with it?”

        “Too ornate, sir.”

        “Nonsense! A cheerful pink. Nothing more.”

        “Unsuitable, sir.”

        “Jeeves, this is the tie I wear!”

        “Very good, sir.”

        Dashed unpleasant. I could see that the man was wounded. But I was firm. I tied the tie, got into the coat and waistcoat, and went into the sitting-room.”

      • Mooser
        March 27, 2017, 2:32 pm

        My favorite bit of business over a gentleman’s cravat takes place when Jeeves criticizes Bertie’s choice of tie. Bertie, much distressed by whatever imbroglio he is in at the time asks:

        “What do ties matter, Jeeves, at a time like this?”

        To which Jeeves replies, in a shocked tone:

        “There is no time, sir, at which ties do not matter!”

      • RoHa
        March 28, 2017, 2:15 am

        Though perhaps my recommendations will not help. Eman is in a modern university English department, so she might never have encountered them. Donne, Chandler, and Wodehouse count as English literature, and it seems that neither schools nor English Lit depts study actual literature any more. They just obsess over literary theory promulgated by French frauds.

      • Mooser
        March 28, 2017, 4:31 pm

        Very true “RoHa”. Those who live in a Wodehouse shouldn’t play with matches.

  19. Kay24
    March 27, 2017, 2:51 am

    Israel fails to twist arms and make other nations NOT vote for the call to avoid direct and indirects ties with the illegal settlements. Looks little Togo has been bullied into opposing the resolution, with Israel’s BFF, The US.

    The UN Human Rights Council in Geneva adopted four resolutions on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on Friday, including a motion condemning settlement construction in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights. The motion calls on states and firms to avoid both direct and indirect ties with the settlements.
    The four resolutions are only declarative in nature.
    >> Get all updates on Israel and the Palestinians: Download our free App, and Subscribe >>
    Thirty-six member states voted in favor of the resolution criticizing Israeli settlements, including Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, Portugal, Slovenia, Switzerland, China, India, Japan, South Africa, Nigeria and Brazil. Nine states abstained: the United Kingdom, Latvia, Croatia, Albania, Georgia, Hungary, Panama, Paraguay and Rwanda. Only two countries – the United States and Togo – opposed the resolution.
    A senior Foreign Ministry official admitted that Israel failed to thwart the resolution, but said it was successful in softening significant parts of it, as well as convincing almost half of the European Union member states to abstain. “Considering the circumstances, this is an achievement,” he said.
    read more: http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-1.779326

  20. Not to confuse anybody, but, after reading this opinion piece, and some of the comments, two thoughts occur to me. One, the author is speaking for herself, which is always appropriate in an opinion piece, but Palestinians are as individual as anyone else, so she can’t possibly be speaking for an entire people. Two, though my own mistakes in relating to other people I have learned that telling them what language to use when they speak is the fastest way to turn a friend into an enemy. Personally I use Palestine/Israel sometimes when I am writing, because Palestine came first and it is good shorthand, like LGBTQ. My organization will be discussing this piece at our next meeting.

    • German Lefty
      March 29, 2017, 12:42 pm

      “Palestinians are as individual as anyone else, so she can’t possibly be speaking for an entire people. […] I have learned that telling [people] what language to use when they speak is the fastest way to turn a friend into an enemy.”
      -> I totally agree!

      “Personally I use Palestine/Israel sometimes when I am writing.”
      -> That’s a good idea. I see it like this: “Palestine” is the name of the land. “Israel” is the name of the power that rules over this land. So, Palestine is under foreign rule by Israel.

  21. One last thought, because this is very provocative. People have the right to define themselves. I was just reading a piece from an African studies program about defining the word “Arab.” It says you can’t use speaking Arabic as a common denominator, because there are Jews who come from Arabic speaking countries. However, some of these Arabic speaking Jews define themselves as Arabs, so who’s to tell them otherwise? Some of these Jewish Arabs even align themselves with the Palestinian cause, rather than with Israel. On the other hand, the words we use are very important. But maybe not as important as the things we do.

  22. Citizen
    March 29, 2017, 6:27 pm

    How about “the former Mandate land”?

    • German Lefty
      April 2, 2017, 3:40 pm

      @ Citizen: This expression would ONLY work if the person you talk to is already familiar with Palestinian history. And chances are that such a person is an anti-Zionist already and doesn’t need to be convinced anymore. We should use words that ignorant/indifferent people understand because they are the ones who need to be convinced. When I started reading up on the conflict, an expression such as “the former Mandate land” would have made things unnecessarily difficult for me, whereas “Israel/Palestine” is instantly understandable because it doesn’t require prior knowledge – only basic geography. Many US citizens don’t even know that Germany is a country in Europe. So, please, don’t expect them to know where “the former Mandate land” is.

  23. hophmi
    March 31, 2017, 11:39 am

    Loved this piece. It sweeps away all of the romanticizing that Western BDS activists do to sanitize the Palestinians so that they look like maximal victims and the Israelis look like demons.

    “Palestine as an age-old culture and place that is magnanimous in legacy and gravity in comparison to Israel, a sixty-eight-year-old novice”

    That’s erasure of Jewish history. Jewish history in the region dates back thousands of years.

    “Israel has used the term to undermine the pan-Arabic term that existed at the time, “the Arab world,” which included only Arabic speaking countries.”

    Israelis and other who are pro-Israel use the term “the Arab world all the time. It’s laughable that you would argue the Israel uses the term “Middle East” to undermine the term “the Arab world.” It’s fantasy.

    “It is important that you reconsider your constant inclination to address “the Palestinian civil society” in your activist calls and social circles. There has never been a consensus among Palestinians themselves about what constitutes Palestine’s “civil society.”

    I guess the BDS movement isn’t really Palestinian-led, just as I have always said. Newsflash: Palestinian civil society is largely a Western construct.

    “When non-Palestinian, Pro-Palestine organizations put those of us who choose the path of non-violence on a pedestal, they are setting a tone that we did not collectively choose for ourselves. In fact, they overstep a boundary and make a grave offense. Those organizations should be reminded that they cannot be selective in the type of people they support if they already promised to stand behind a whole nation and its strife for liberation. The way members of our nation choose to respond to Israeli colonialism is not subject to moralistic rationalization or dismissal. ”

    In other words, if you don’t support our choice to strap on suicide belts and blow up Jewish babies, or to lob rockets into population center, you aren’t really supporting the Palestinian cause. If we determine that killing innocent civilians en masse is what we want to do, you should stand up and salute our choice.

    “The goal of the Palestine liberation movement is not to create a better, friendlier Israel but to create a country independent from all forms of colonialism, including that of Israeli settler colonialism. Unquestionably, Palestinians should support the rights of colonized subjects and disenfranchised minorities and many are indeed doing so— by virtue of our own experiences with murder, injustice and land theft— but we rightfully demand that same recognition from other communities as well. In many ways, there lies great potential in Palestinians joining hands with Israeli Jews of color, to cite one eminent possibility for collaboration, but that can only happen if the latter choose to denounce Israeli citizenships and rights and embrace the call for Palestinian liberation not in the name of maintaining the Israeli nation-state, but in its complete opposite.”

    In other words, you can’t be pro-Palestinian without advocating Israel’s destruction. And once again, if we choose to bring about Israel’s destruction by massacring its people, you better support that if you want to be pro-Palestinian. So let’s have none of this prevaricating about how one can be pro-Palestinian and not advocate Israel’s destruction. One can ONLY be pro-Palestinian if one advocates Israel’s destruction.

    “Without doubt, Palestinians will always remain committed to full decolonization, and they should not be expected to compromise that right and goal for the sake of co-signing into liberal language and values of racial and ethnic inclusion”

    In other words, stop talking about that utopian binationalism, democracy, civil liberties, gay rights, and all of that Western human rights crap. We’re not into human rights; this is the Arab world; we don’t do democracy here. If we want to throw the Jews into the sea and establish a theocratic dictatorship like Iran or Saudi Arabia, that’s our business.

    “The present moment necessitates reaching a consensus on the global call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) and the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (ACBI). Though many US academic institutions have taken a side and voted either for or against these calls, some activist organizations remain undecided. It is pertinent that this ambiguity is resolved in the near future. It is highly problematic when a pro-Palestine activism organization has no decision on BDS and ACBI. It leaves its subjects of support confused about the limitations of these organizations and the truth of their dedication. ”

    You better do it our way! Nothing short of BDS and support for murdering Jewish children will do, if that’s what we choose.

    • Mooser
      March 31, 2017, 1:29 pm

      “You better do it our way! Nothing short of BDS and support for murdering Jewish children will do, if that’s what we choose.”

      Shorter “Hophmi”: ‘If you don’t buy this hummis, a Jewish child will die!”

    • YoniFalic
      March 31, 2017, 4:22 pm

      Maybe I should periodically repost the following comment.

      From Hell just froze over: the New York Times runs an article saying Zionism is racist.

      hophmi has some sort of reading comprehension problem — a symptom of brain-rot from believing Zionist ideas.

      In another discussion I was pointing out something well-known to classicists. Most of the Judaic population at the time of the Judaic Wars (1st & 2nd centuries) was already of convert origin long before Slav, Khazar and other conversions of late antiquity and the Medieval period.

      Patrick Geary has a relevant passage (pp 118-119) in his The Myth of Nations. The text applies to the demonym “Jew” as much to any European demonym.

      Conclusion: Old Names and New Peoples

      The fourth and fifth centuries saw fundamental changes in the European social and political fabric. In the process, great confederations like those of the Goths disappeared, to re-emerge transformed into kingdoms in Italy and Gaul. Others like the Hunnic Empire or the Vandal kingdom seemed to spring from nowhere, only to vanish utterly in a few generations. Still other, previously obscure peoples, such as the Angles and the Franks, emerged to create enduring polities. But whether enduring or ephemeral, the social realities behind these ethnic names underwent rapid and radical transformation in every case. Whatever a Goth was in the third-century kingdom of Cniva, the reality of a Goth in sixth century Spain was far different, in language, religion, political and social organization, even ancestry. The Franks defeated by Emperor Julian in the fourth century and those who followed Clovis into battle in the sixth century were likewise almost immeasurably distant from each other in every possible way. The same was true of the Romans, whose transformation was no less dramatic in the same period. With the constant shifting of allegiances, intermarriages, transformations, and appropriations, it appears that all that remained constant were names, and these were vessels that could hold different contents at different times.

      Names were renewable resources; they held the potential to convince people of continuity, even if radical discontinuity was the lived reality. Old names, whether of ancient peoples like the Goths or Suebi or of illustrious families such as the Amals, could be reclaimed, applied to new circumstances, and used as rallying cries for new powers. Alternatively, names of small, relatively unimportant groups might be expanded with enormous power. The Franks were the most significant of these. In the third century, they were among the least significant of Rome’s enemies. By the sixth century, the name Frank had eclipsed not only that of Goth, Vandal, and Sueb, but of Roman itself in much of the West.

      Only an ignoramus, a stupid person, or a liar asserts that descendants of Medieval European Jewish religious communities have an ancestral link to Greco-Roman Judeans, who are ancestors of modern Palestinians.

    • German Lefty
      April 2, 2017, 3:23 pm

      hophmi: “That’s erasure of Jewish history. Jewish history in the region dates back thousands of years.”

      That’s NOT true. The term “Palestine” does NOT refer to any particular religion. Palestinians can have any religion, including the Jewish one. Also, the Palestinian flag does NOT have any religious symbol on it. It’s Israel, the self-declared Jewish state, that wants to exclude people of other religions.

    • talknic
      April 3, 2017, 12:25 am

      @ hophmi March 31, 2017, 11:39 am

      ” the Palestinians so that they look like maximal victims and the Israelis look like demons.”

      The thief and illegal occupier is the demon. The victims have not illegally taken, do not illegally occupy and have not illegally settled anywhere in Israeli territory

      “That’s erasure of Jewish history. Jewish history in the region dates back thousands of years”

      Nonsense. Israel was only proclaimed in 1948. Jewish history in the region has been by far as Palestinians and Israeli Jews were predominantly Arab in 1950

      “In other words, if you don’t support our choice to strap on suicide belts and blow up Jewish babies, or to lob rockets into population center, you aren’t really supporting the Palestinian cause.”

      In other words. Cute, but not in the words of the person you’re answering to. Amazing the bullsh*t ZioPawns post

      “In other words…”

      = More of what you’d like to have been said, but wasn’t.

      “In other words … If we want to throw the Jews into the sea and establish a theocratic dictatorship like Iran or Saudi Arabia, that’s our business

      = Even more of what wasn’t said. WOW! Impressive

      Why is it pawns for Zionist colonization are incapable of rational debate?

      • jd65
        April 3, 2017, 10:50 am

        talknic – Q: Why is it pawns for Zionist colonization are incapable of rational debate?

        A: Because they know (consciously or otherwise) that a truly contextualized, rational debate on the subject is a loser for their position.

    • echinococcus
      April 3, 2017, 8:33 pm

      Hophmi,

      If we want to throw the Jews into the sea and establish a theocratic dictatorship like Iran or Saudi Arabia, that’s our business.

      Of course what any people does on its own territory is its own business. Thank you for finally understanding that. Expelling invaders is any colonized people’s basic right. Might seem a bit radical to some, but fully within the rights of the owners of the place. No one ever proposed ejecting the descendants of Jewish Palestinians. Also, why “into the sea”? Never heard about planes?

    • talknic
      April 4, 2017, 7:32 am

      @ hophmi

      “In other words, stop talking about that utopian binationalism, democracy, civil liberties, gay rights, and all of that Western human rights crap. We’re not into human rights; this is the Arab world; we don’t do democracy here. If we want to throw the Jews into the sea and establish a theocratic dictatorship like Iran or Saudi Arabia, that’s our business.”

      1. Those ‘other words’. I.e., not the words used, but the words hophmi has had to fabricate from ye olde Hasbara hole cloth

      2) Strange. The Palestinians, in their own words, are willing to
      A) cede 78% of their rightful territories for peace with Israel and;
      B) as far back as 1948 “The Governments of the Arab States emphasise, on this occasion, what they have already declared before the London Conference and the United Nations, that the only solution of the Palestine problem is the establishment of a unitary Palestinian State, in accordance with democratic principles, whereby its inhabitants will enjoy complete equality before the law, [and whereby] minorities will be assured of all the guarantees recognised in democratic constitutional countries, and [whereby] the holy places will be preserved and the right of access thereto guaranteed.
      Democracy!! Equal rights!! How dare they!

  24. lyn117
    April 1, 2017, 12:17 pm

    ‘“Palestine as an age-old culture and place that is magnanimous in legacy and gravity in comparison to Israel, a sixty-eight-year-old novice”

    That’s erasure of Jewish history. Jewish history in the region dates back thousands of years.’

    Nonsense. Jewish history isn’t Israel’s history. Israel’s history is only 68-69 years. Palestine’s is thousands, and the Jewish contribution to Palestine’s history is relatively minor, however large it looms in the religious minds.

    • Maghlawatan
      April 1, 2017, 4:08 pm

      Israel was a tragic mistake. You cannot reach a higher state of Judaism by means of systematic violence.

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