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Ghada Karmi comes to New York and DC

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For those hoping to understand the psychology of exile and occupation, I cannot recommend a better book than Return, Ghada Karmi’s memoir of her effort to reimplant herself in Palestinian society as an official in the Palestinian Authority. Her observations of the tension between diaspora and indigenous Palestinian consciousness, and the Jewish/Israeli/western disregard for the Palestinian experience feel true and devastating. Her reflections on her displaced and brilliant father, living out his last years in Amman, exalt the story by enlarging its themes to concerns so many of us share: the intellectual inheritance of our parents, the troubled relationship of the west to the Arab world, the battle between secularism and Islamic fundamentalism.

And for dark comedy, there is nothing like Karmi’s visit to the house she grew up in in Katamon, Jerusalem, a property now occupied by the New York Times correspondent.

On Monday night, I have the great privilege of leading a conversation with Ghada Karmi hosted by Arab Students United at NYU. What a lineup of co-sponsors: Verso Books, Columbia Students for Justice in Palestine, Adalah-NY, Al-Awda NY: The Palestine Right to Return Coalition, Haymarket Books, and our website.

I urge anyone who can make it to come; my goal will be to shine a light on a wonderful literary achievement, and to enable the audience to interact with the author. 6:30 PM, 238 Thompson Street.

I see that Karmi will also be in Washington talking to Norton Mezvinsky and Randa Fahmy. Here is the notice I received:

You are invited to attend an intimate conversation about Israel and Palestine with Dr. Ghada Karmi, hosted by the International Council on Middle East Studies  (ICMES).

When: Thursday, November 5 from 4 PM to 6 PM

Where: International Law Institute, 1055 Thomas Jefferson Street NW, Washington, D.C., suite M-100.

Ghada Karmi was born in Jerusalem and trained as a medical doctor at Bristol University. She established the first British-Palestinian medical charity in 1972 and was an associate fellow at the Royal Institute for International Affairs. Her previous books include: Jerusalem Today: What Future for the Peace Process?, The Palestinian Exodus 1948-1998, Married to Another Man and In Search of Fatima.

Dr. Karmi will be discussing her latest book, Return, A Palestine Memoir.

Dr. Norton Mezvinsky and Randa Fahmy will conduct a dialogue with Dr. Karmi, followed by questions from the audience. Dr. Mezvinsky is president of ICMES and professor of history emeritus from Central Connecticut State University. Randa Fahmy is President and CEO of Fahmy Hudome International (FHI), and was Associate Deputy Secretary of Energy in the Bush Administration, after serving as Counselor to U.S. Senator Spencer Abraham.

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10 Responses

  1. JLewisDickerson
    October 31, 2015, 12:58 pm

    RE: “For those hoping to understand the psychology of exile and occupation, I cannot recommend a better book than Return, Ghada Karmi’s memoir of her effort to reimplant herself in Palestinian society as an official in the Palestinian Authority.” ~ Weiss

    “Return: A Palestinian Memoir”, by Ghada Karmi
    Kindle Edition (free sample available)

  2. just
    October 31, 2015, 1:17 pm

    Thank you for this intro and information, Phil. I’ll let folks know.

    Somewhat related to your piece, I found this article and link over at Taxi’s site:

    “I’m Longing for Palestine While Living the American Dream

    My father was born in Palestine and raised in a refugee camp; I was born and raised in our national’s capital. Who does that make me, exactly?

    … The light skin and eyes I inherited from my maternal French-English genes, and from my Sittu Mariam (grandmother) on my father’s side, have made that part easy for me. I can seamlessly blend into a culturally white world, never being subjected to that split-second suspicion and judgment that so many Arab-Americans deal with daily. My complexion has afforded me a very privileged life here.

    And yet, this is the country where my Palestinian cousins with darker skin are given dirty looks on planes, and where presidential candidates casually suggest that Muslims shouldn’t be president. This is the country that gives $3.1 billion to Israel in military aid each year. This is the country that looked the other way when Israel sentenced my Palestinian cousin to nine years in prison for his role in a protest after the murder of 16-year-old Mohammed Abu Khdeir. They came to his house in the middle of the night and took him away based on an anonymous tip. At age 22, he will spend the rest of his youth in a cell.

    My father, as you may have gathered, was not born here. He was born in 1947, six miles from what is now the Israeli city of Jaffa, in what was then the small Palestinian village of Abbasiya. For generations, my family lived simply on that land and cared for it deeply; they were farmers, growing citrus and olives in the Mediterranean sun.

    In 1948, he and 750,000 other Palestinians were forcefully expelled from their homes in what Israel sees as its independence, and Palestinians call the “Nakba,” or catastrophe. My father spent his formative years in a refugee camp in the Jordan Valley. His feet are still rough and calloused from running around outside without shoes. He spent evenings listening to his elders wax poetic about home, still thinking they might one day return–​not knowing they would all one day die in foreign cities, never again having laid eyes on Palestine.

    Throughout my life, I’ve felt a constant longing emanating from my father, a sort of melancholy incompleteness. At some point his displacement became an essential part of my and my younger brother Layth’s identities. Perhaps we felt the tension of being Palestinian-American more acutely as time went on, and it presented us with a choice: hide that part of ourselves or wear it like a badge. So we embraced our Palestinian-ness—​and our ethnic names—​and never looked back. By now, we know what’s coming: unrest. And we brace ourselves for the status quo: American politicians will dismiss dead Palestinians as “terrorists,” while respectfully mourning each lost Israeli life. We live with the guilt that we are here, not there. The guilt that we can come and go as we please, while Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza are barricaded into their homes, neighborhoods, or cities. Israel is flanked by water, but many Palestinians will never see the sea. …”

    • Citizen
      October 31, 2015, 1:59 pm

      @ just
      Most of the comments under the original article, which I read when it first appeared along with a photo of the quite beautiful young authoress, show 0 empathy or sympathy for her, her situation.

      • just
        November 1, 2015, 10:02 am

        The Brigade was out in force. It’s disgusting.

        Another beautiful and enormously talented human played in NY Friday night:

        “Roger Waters of Pink Floyd plays to a full house in NY despite Simon Wiesenthal Center call for boycott – Reddit

        Jews from all over the South Fork trekked to Bay Street Theater in Sag Harbor on Friday night to protest the performance of anti-Israel musician Roger Waters.

        About 60 people stood in front of the theater with big signs that supported the state of Israel and called the Boycott Divestment Sanctions movement, or BDS, a hate crime. Mr. Waters is a big proponent of BDS, which aims to embargo Israeli exports to put economic and thus political pressure on the country.

        The Pink-Floyd co-founder performed at Bay Street as part of G.E. Smith’s “Portraits” concert series and sold out the entire venue. According to Executive Director of Bay Street Tracy Mitchell, people were even “begging” for tickets to the show.

        On Tuesday, Bay Street announced that it would refund tickets for those who no longer wanted to attend Mr. Waters’s show, reiterating that the theater is committed to the right to free speech but also respects the rights of Jews who were offended …

        “This is just the beginning of what we are doing,” said Larry Zimmerman, an East Hampton resident, who was also handing out fliers to theater-goers. “We want a worldwide campaign to protest Roger Waters wherever he is.”

        The Simon Wiesenthal Center, an international Jewish human rights organization, called on New Yorkers to boycott Mr. Waters’s performance as he does Israel, and give him an empty theater.

        “We urge people who may have been unaware of his hate-filled boycott campaign and bought tickets for his performance, to vote with their feet and instead stand in solidarity—outside of the theater—with the innocent victims of terrorism in The Holy Land,” the release said on Tuesday.”

        LOL! Wham. Such irony. Click on the link to see Latuff’s great art.

        Btw, “The innocent victims of terrorism in The Holy Land” of Palestine are the Palestinians. Period. Full stop. Roger Waters and millions of good people all over the world do stand in solidarity with them!

        ““This is just the beginning of what we are doing,” said Larry Zimmerman, an East Hampton resident, who was also handing out fliers to theater-goers. “We want a worldwide campaign to protest Roger Waters wherever he is.””

        That’s some threat, Larry.

      • Mooser
        November 1, 2015, 11:53 am

        I’m almost, maybe half-way sorta, expecting Mr. Waters to turn up in comments here. Possibly using a handle like “Roger of the Desert” or something. It’s just one of those half-way sorta maybe feelings I get sometimes.

      • Stephen Shenfield
        Stephen Shenfield
        November 1, 2015, 5:16 pm

        Regarding Pink Floyd, one of their best songs is entitled “Another Brick in the Wall.” Seems appropriate.

  3. WH
    October 31, 2015, 1:32 pm

    Reading this book at the moment and greatly enjoying it. What’s particularly interesting and depressing is her insights into the bureaucratized and subsidized stasis afflicting the PA, where people are essentially paid to do things that will have no effects.

  4. kalithea
    November 1, 2015, 12:42 pm

    She’s a lovely woman and I applaud all your awareness-raising efforts. Much success with this and every event you help organize and participate in on behalf of justice for Palestinians.

  5. Ossinev
    November 1, 2015, 12:59 pm

    ““This is just the beginning of what we are doing,” said Larry Zimmerman.

    Yes what they are really hoping for is Congressional approval to set up checkpoints outside BDS event venues and cultural event venues featuring artists who support BDS. At these checkpoints they can check the ID`s of all those attending , do a full body frisk and search of backpacks,handbags etc , record the names and details for future action , spit on selected individuals and hell , why not , shoot the odd bastard who is found with a Swiss Army Knife or a corkscrew in their bag or who stares at them in a funny way. And all this without having to travel from the comforts of their dear old US to their beloved Zioland and get directly involved in the main deal.


    • diasp0ra
      November 1, 2015, 2:17 pm

      This is just the beginning!

      Next time, instead of 60 people, they will bring 65! Muahahahahaaha!

      These people really buy the BS they are selling.

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