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Salaita, Khalidi, Bayoumi appearances make this a landmark week in NY

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This week the New York air is ringing with Arab and Palestinian voices. The omnipresence of articulate representatives of cultures that have been marginalized would seem to reflect a new era in American culture.

Today on Leonard Lopate’s show, Moustafa Bayoumi talked about his new book, This Muslim American Life: Dispatches from the War on Terror. I caught some of the segment, and Bayoumi was thoughtful, funny and supple as he explained the omnipresence of Islamophobia, and Lopate was on the back foot. For instance, Bayoumi said that very few women actually wear the niqab in France or the U.S. And when Lopate said that the niqab must be terribly hot to wear in summer in Arab countries, especially when men are in blue jeans, Bayoumi said simply, Yes, and some of the men are all in white. Then when Lopate asked Bayoumi why he had been accused of sponsoring Islamic radicalism in his last book, about young Arabs in America, How Does It Feel to Be a Problem? , Bayoumi said he had never understood that charge, he had merely tried to chronicle a real social trend.

Steven Salaita is doing three events in New York for his important new book about his firing last year by the University of Illinois, a case that has staggered academia: Uncivil Rites: Palestine and the Limits of Academic Freedom. Salaita had a dialogue with Rashid Khalidi earlier today in the Columbia University neighborhood, and will have another with Joseph Massad at NYU tonight at 7, and a forum on the Palestinian exception to freedom of speech tomorrow at 6, downtown.

And tomorrow at 5:30 at the Linney Theatre on 42nd Street, Ismail Khalidi and Naomi Wallace will be doing an event for their book, Inside/Outside Six Plays from Palestine and the Diaspora. “The event will include a discussion of the anthology with the book’s editors … as well as selected readings by talented performers to be announced.”

My readers know me to be an enthusiast; but I say we are entering on a period in American life where the Palestinian voice cannot be marginalized. Some of this is obviously generational. But it is exciting whenever outsiders begin to speak to a wide audience, and surely echoes other periods of cultural inclusion and discovery (I think of the Jewish novelists of the 60s and 70s). We’ll be covering some of these events, and will post video of Salaita/Khalidi when it’s available from the indefatigable Edward Briody. And let’s hope that Terry Gross of Fresh Air, Brooke Gladstone, and other establishment tastemakers catch a clue.

I reflect that the last time I saw Moustafa Bayoumi was at a Yousef Munayyer-Peter Beinart debate at New America in June; and the next week at the 92d Street Y, Beinart warned the old-school Zionist horde (Ari Shavit, Abe Foxman, Dan Senor) that plausible Palestinians were now speaking in American accents and an American idiom, of equal rights. Katy bar the door!

P.S. In more-or-less-related events, Lillian Rosengarten gave an anti-Zionist appearance at the Cake Shop on Ludlow Street last night for her book Survival and Conscience, and said that Israel will only be free when Palestinians have equal rights. There were nearly 50 in attendance. Helena Cobban spoke about her book line, Just World Books, and sold copies of Leila Abdelrazaq’s exciting new graphic book about the refugee experience, Baddawi; and quoted Mohammed Omer (whose book was published this summer). I was the moderator in the basement space, and said it felt a little like another chapter in the American battle with slavery, the underground railroad.

Yesterday on the Brian Lehrer show, David Felix Sutcliffe pronounced the FBI efforts against terrorism to be a “farce,” and Lehrer questioned him but did not challenge the idea. And Thursday night, Antony Loewenstein and Jeremy Scahill will be having a conversation about Loewenstein’s new book, Disaster Capitalism.

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30 Responses

  1. Krauss
    Krauss
    October 6, 2015, 10:46 pm

    My only problem with Bayoumi is that he never pushes back against notions from questioners that being Arab is the same as being muslim. It is the majority religion, but it isn’t all of them. His new book is more clear about where he is coming from, but his “Being Arab in America” too often conflated muslims and Arabs.

    The excuse that other people do so isn’t good enough, and in his interview with Lopate he again never corrected the host on this issue, probably because he shares the same view.

    More generally, however, we need more voices like the ones you mentioned. If the Jewish experience is anything to go by, then the lesson is that Americans won’t care about other countries in a significant way before there is a visible and active constituency of people inside the country who are active in the cultural arena and thus making it easier to emotionally/culturally connect to a foreign place, like Americans did with Israel in earlier times.

  2. Kathleen
    Kathleen
    October 7, 2015, 6:47 am

    The winds are shifting towards the truth and facts about this issue. Tonight here in Boulder Ali Abunimah speaks on University of Colorado’s campus.

    Over at Moon of Alabama’s rips into the New York Times..

  3. lysias
    lysias
    October 7, 2015, 10:01 am

    Salaita was on Democracy Now! this morning. He has a new book about to come out (on Oct. 12): Uncivil Rites: Palestine and the Limits of Academic Freedom.

  4. Henry Norr
    Henry Norr
    October 7, 2015, 2:34 pm

    Those who have followed l’affaire Weir may be interested in the following email reports I received from a couple of acquaintances who attended Salaita’s appearance at NYU last night:

    a woman (neither of us knew her) asked about the “witch-hunt” against Alison Weir and asked if JVP had been infiltrated by Zionists.

    I was honestly expecting Steve to give the standard “anti-Semitism is bad and so is Alison” answer. He didn’t exactly deliver an explicit defense, but what he said was to the effect of that he hadn’t been following the details closely but he was sick of caring whether any given Palestine solidarity activist was in fact anti-Semitic because it showed an obsession with Jews, and asked why nobody reacts the same way with anti-Arab racism. Everyone clapped.

    As far as I was concerned it was effectively a defense of Alison whether or not that was his intent. I don’t think anyone who was following the split could have perceived it as anything but a defense.

    Joseph Massad’s answer was less than thrilling but he did not condemn Alison either.

    —————

    It was more than a defense of Alison, it was the first shot in the war on the effectiveness of the “anti-Semitic” label. I think from now on this should always be the answer.

    BTW, it was the only response to a question that people clapped for.

    • W.Jones
      W.Jones
      October 7, 2015, 3:28 pm

      Thanks for staying on this, Henry.
      Please continue to do so. The whole affair is a surprising, strange event, not just to me, but to not a few others.

      Is there some way to find your email online?

      • Henry Norr
        Henry Norr
        October 8, 2015, 2:10 am

        W. Jones: I’m at first name at last name dot com.

    • Kathleen
      Kathleen
      October 8, 2015, 1:31 pm

      Last night here in Boulder a man stepped up to the microphone and asked guest speaker Ali Abunimah (who of course people know is incredibly well informed) about the Allison Weir debacle. Ali answered with strong words about JVP and the other groups right to not deal with people (Allison) they disagree with. A person who goes on white supremacist and known anti semitic individuals programs? A person who does not refute these bigots comments. Yes the audience agreed. Then someone shouted from the audience “but Allison is being labeled through a guilt by association strategy. I then asked if Ali was saying that Allison was “anti semitic” He answered “we are not calling her anti-semitic” Was watching his face and then the words that came out of this mouth almost looked like for the person there video taping the talk. Will get the exact words when the video comes out. But I have written down that he then said “we have the right to not associate with a white supremacist and an anti-semite” I was a bit stunned and was not in a position to speak up again since I was all ready out of order. However I think he was indirectly after saying that they were not calling Allison an “anti-semite” turning around and saying she was.

      He is an amazingly gracious, confident and well informed speaker. Clearly knows a great deal. And well worth sponsoring. His push for the one state solution makes a great deal of sense…as others have made the same arguments. Sure made me wonder why I don’t spend much time at ELECTRONIC INTIFADA as I had when he co-started that site.

      He also brought up how the MSM will not touch his latest book. Just the way they will not touch Max Blumenthal’s book.

      • MHughes976
        MHughes976
        October 8, 2015, 4:22 pm

        I’m sure he is a good writer and speaker, but any description of AW as a white supremacist and anti-Semite – or any heavy hint in that direction – seems, on the basis of everything I have seen of her and from her, quite preposterous, so from your report he fills me with mistrust.

      • W.Jones
        W.Jones
        October 8, 2015, 9:23 pm

        Hello, Kathleen.

        Thank you for letting us know about this. As he said, JVP and others have a right to avoid working with people. What would happen if for a similar reason similar groups openly spoke against Ali A. and chose not to work with him?

        Bear in mind that JVP and CEIO do not ban Zionism as a form of racism because there are non-racist versions of Zionism, like that of JVP advisor Chomsky. The entire Free Gaza Movement was banned primarily for G.Berlin’s offensive tweet titled Zionists ran the concentration camps that linked to a racist’s interview, for which she apologized. And according to JVP, equating the Israelis with the Nazis is anti-Semitic. (Nota Bene: I agree that there are non-racist versions of Zionism and I don’t equate the Israelis with the Nazis. But is insulting Zionism, while wrong and to be avoided, inherently anti-Semitic?)

        MJ Rosenberg previously spent about two months calling Ali Abunimah anti-Semitic because Ali A. has a habit of speaking in harsh generalizations about Zionists. StandWithUs has dossiers on Ali A, just like it does on Weir, wherein Ali A. said: “Supporting Zionism is not atonement for the Holocaust, but its continuation in spirit.”
        https://www.standwithus.com/news/article.asp?id=2122.

        Now, I am sure that Ali A. isn’t going to be banned. But theoretically, what would Ali A. do if he was similarly denounced for his questionable statements, like those about Zionism?

        Do you see the problem, Kathleen? It’s right to openly oppose advocates of anti-Semitism. But if you ban fellow anti-racists who have failed to sufficiently oppose intolerant interviewers, then who will be left to defend you when you make mistakes like stereotyping Zionists?

      • annie
        annie
        October 9, 2015, 5:08 am

        w/jones, i removed your berlin quotemarks because it was not an accurate quote.

      • Sibiriak
        Sibiriak
        October 8, 2015, 10:26 pm

        Kathleen: then said “we have the right to not associate with a white supremacist and an anti-semite

        ———————

        Sounds like he is referring to Clay Douglas.

      • W.Jones
        W.Jones
        October 9, 2015, 5:56 am

        Thanks, Annie.

      • Mooser
        Mooser
        October 9, 2015, 11:05 am

        “Bear in mind that JVP and CEIO do not ban Zionism as a form of racism because there are non-racist versions of Zionism, like that of JVP advisor Chomsky”

        I am transfixed by the grasp of the subject you can contain in one sentence!
        And, I must admit, dismayed at my own denseness! Of course, that’s what we need, a “non-racist Zionism”. A Zionism for everybody not just Jews. It’ll sure open up the fundraising possibilities. Lotta people to fit in a small country, but we can deal with that later.

      • Kathleen
        Kathleen
        October 9, 2015, 11:44 am

        Again what I heard and have written down was Ali Abunimah inferring that Allison was an “anti semite” and “white supremacist.” He did not say this directly but an inference after he had said “we are not calling her an anti semite” then a few sentences later said ” we have the right not to associate with an anti-semite and white supremacist.” Again this is what I heard and wrote down. Still waiting for the video to come out.

        All in all has to be a tough position for Ali to be in because I believe he is working with JVP and U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation. So has clearly picked the groups that seem to serve his purpose more. However is it really necessary to indirectly hammer Weir for what looks like a guilt by association venue?

        All of this in many ways is a distraction from groups looking at what may be their common goal? Although “common goal” may be assuming too much.

        Again the bulk of Ali’s presentation is filled with historical facts backed up by documented resources. He provides and a very wide scope of the human rights and social justice crimes committed against Palestinians for decades. He is very much a gracious, articulate speaker. Worth it to sponsor him coming to your town, university etc.

      • Sibiriak
        Sibiriak
        October 9, 2015, 12:21 pm

        Kathleen: Again what I heard and have written down was Ali Abunimah inferring that Allison was an “anti semite” and “white supremacist.” He did not say this directly but an inference after he had said “we are not calling her an anti semite” then a few sentences later said ” we have the right not to associate with an anti-semite and white supremacist.”

        ————

        Again, if I heard him say “we are not calling her an anti semite” then a few sentences later say ” we have the right not to associate with an anti-semite and white supremacist,” I would infer that the “anti-semite and white supremacist” phrase refers to Clay Douglas.

        My logic: He just said he wasn’t calling Weir an antisemite, so it would be unlikely that he immediately contradicts himself, and it would be exceedingly unlikely that he calls her a “white supremacist”. On the other hand, Clay Douglas IS a blatant antisemite and white supremacist, and had been identified as such in the complaint against Weir.

      • W.Jones
        W.Jones
        October 9, 2015, 1:09 pm

        Kathleen and Sibiriak,

        Another curious thing is Ali A’s use of the term “We”, when he says “We are not calling her anti-Semitic”, etc. Who does “We” mean? The Electronic Intifada hasn’t formally taken a position, and he isn’t on the staff of the US CEIO. He isn’t actually speaking for the whole movement, or we wouldn’t have had a “Roundtable”. Nor does he really speak for Weir’s opponents, since J. Hitchock said some of Weir’s writings are anti-Semitic, and a CEIO person said Weir has “racist politics”. (See Section #12: http://ifamericansknew.org/about_us/accusations.html#twelve).

        Perhaps Ali was referring to a non-formal network that discusses such internal issues and came to a collective decision, as you write: “I believe he is working with JVP and U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation. So has clearly picked the groups that seem to serve his purpose more.”

      • tree
        tree
        October 9, 2015, 1:36 pm

        Again, if I heard him say “we are not calling her an anti semite” then a few sentences later say ” we have the right not to associate with an anti-semite and white supremacist,” I would infer that the “anti-semite and white supremacist” phrase refers to Clay Douglas.

        But the question never was “Does JVP and ETO have a right not to associate with Clay Douglas, or agree to an interview with him?” so stating they have a right not to associate with him makes no sense. The question has always been about the banning of association with Weir. It sounds like Abunimah is trying to claim that he ISN’T calling her an anti-semite and white supremacist, while implying that she is. A sort of non-plausible deniability. Its a hypocritical stand, but then the whole JVP stand is highly hypocritical, since they have associated with JStreet and attempted to associate with Hillel, both of which are Zionist. And Zionism is a form of racism. So they have nothing against “associating” with certain types of racists (Zionists) And that associaion goes way beyond Weir’s couple of radio interviews from 6 years ago.

      • Sibiriak
        Sibiriak
        October 9, 2015, 1:58 pm

        tree: It sounds like Abunimah is trying to claim that he ISN’T calling her an anti-semite and white supremacist, while implying that she is.
        ———

        Based on Kathleen’s report, I don’t see it that way. But I don’t have a full transcript or video so I think it would be silly to comment further.

      • MHughes976
        MHughes976
        October 9, 2015, 3:06 pm

        The reason offered – ‘we don’t associate with people like that’ – is irrelevant to the issue of AW unless AW is one of those people.

      • Kathleen
        Kathleen
        October 9, 2015, 4:47 pm

        Clay Douglas was never mentioned. I was taken by what seem to be an extreme contradiction. Want to see the video and read transcript so it will be clear. Also said earlier as if he was speaking to the camera and of course those in the audience. Became more demonstrative in the contradictory statement.

        Again I think this is all a distraction from the bigger issue. Although it sure seems the methods used to discredit others in the past who have criticized Israel and their crimes against humanity are being used against Weir.

        Abunimah’s bigger message historical theft of Palestinian land, separate justice systems for Israeli’s/Palestinians who commit crimes (no justice system for Palestinians), embedded apartheid, shift taking place extreme disproportionate use of force by Israel,, one state being the only solution to resolve the conflict.

      • RoHa
        RoHa
        October 9, 2015, 6:32 pm

        “Again what I heard and have written down was Ali Abunimah inferring that Allison was an “anti semite” and “white supremacist.” He did not say this directly but an inference after he had said “we are not calling her an anti semite” then a few sentences later said ” we have the right not to associate with an anti-semite and white supremacist.” Again this is what I heard and wrote down. Still waiting for the video to come out.”

        From that, it seems as though Ali might have been implying it, but not inferring it. You inferred it.

      • W.Jones
        W.Jones
        October 9, 2015, 6:41 pm

        Sibiriak,

        Ali A’s intent was ambiguous, and that will probably be reflected in the transcript. Strictly speaking, your interpretation is “technically” correct. There are four reasons to think he wanted to cryptically suggest the alternate interpretation, but that he didn’t say it directly, because the case for calling her anti-semitic is much weaker than the one for saying that she associated herself with them through interviews.

      • Sibiriak
        Sibiriak
        October 9, 2015, 10:24 pm

        MHughes976: The reason offered – ‘we don’t associate with people like that’ – is irrelevant to the issue of AW unless AW is one of those people. .
        ———————-

        No, not necessarily. Association has a transference property. A+(B+C)= (A+B)+C

      • Sibiriak
        Sibiriak
        October 9, 2015, 11:16 pm

        Kathleen: Clay Douglas was never mentioned.
        —————-

        Clay Douglas is central to the complaint against Weir. No doubt Abunimah’s remarks could have been clearer, but the inference is not very difficult to make for anyone familiar with the affair.

        Again I think this is all a distraction from the bigger issue.

        Yes, it certainly is. That distraction could have been avoided if either of two things had occurred:

        1)JVP /CEIO, in order to maintain movement unity, had kept things at the level of criticism and avoided taking the extreme step of banning. (Unity doesn’t demand that movement factions never criticize each other.)

        2) Alison Weir had acquiesced to slightly altering her position on a couple of blog posts and to not appearing on shows like Clay Douglas’, where her performance reinforced an antisemitic worldview. As W.Jones has correctly pointed out several times, those alleged transgressions constituted an absolutely minute portion of her pro-Palestinian work , so even if she felt she was completely right on principle, she could have compromised a bit in the interest of movement unity.

        Both sides failed to do what was necessary to avoid this huge distraction. The reality is: there is a deep, unbridgeable, ideological division (actually multiple divisions) within the anti-Zionist camp of which this case is a symptom, not a cause.

        Both sides were itching for a fight. And that’s what we got.

      • Kathleen
        Kathleen
        October 10, 2015, 9:16 am

        Hit the nail on the distraction head Sibiriak.

        Ali kept pointing out how their are two justice systems in Israel. Israeli’s get away with horrific crimes against of Palestinians and are not held accountable. While generally Palestinians who commit horrific crimes are held accountable We also know there is a massive and disproportionate amount of horrific crimes committed against Palestinians.

        Ali also pointed out as many of us believe that Palestinians have a right to fight for land that belongs to them, homes etc.

        So the double standard that applies to the focus on Weir being willing to talk to white supremacist etc without objecting to racist comments. Then being charged guilty by association and silence While hot shots appear on MSM outlets and never challenge anti Muslim (semite) comments. Never challenge. Stay silent.

        Yes the banning of Weir seems extreme. Also Weir’s unwillingness to budge…even though the response seems extreme.

      • W.Jones
        W.Jones
        October 10, 2015, 3:55 pm

        Sibiriak,

        Your recommendation for Weir is reasonable. At the same time, this is not meant as a rhetorical question: Do you think it’s better if the far right in the US knows the truth about the IP conflict? It seems to me that it is, as with most major human rights issues, because otherwise they just join the far right chorus of Islamophobia and anti-Muslim militarism. But if it’s important to inform them, how else do you do so, if the mass media blocks it, except by making at least a few appearances on AFP, Rush Limbaugh, etc.? Of course, Alison herself says that she wishes she did better in her interview with Douglas, and she hasn’t been back in three years. So it wouldn’t be a major loss to her if that was all CEIO requested.

        But how would you recommend Weir reconcile with JVP? If you read JVP’s statement, the second main reason JVP gave for banning all work with her was that: she has a “political framing” that does not see an “American interest” in advancing aspects of the conflict like the Occupation, she rather attributes US policy on the Occupation to lobbying efforts, and that this is “chauvinist” on her part.

        It seems that Weir would have to alter her views in a major way in order for her to compromise with JVP. For example, she would have to find and emphasize some kind of major, direct US interest in the ongoing, permanent occupation that would drive US support for the occupation, at least to no less a degree than lobbying drives that support. So you have to consider how sound that demand is.

      • Sibiriak
        Sibiriak
        October 11, 2015, 5:10 am

        @W. Jones You ask some good–and difficult– questions. I hope to reply but it may not be immediately. I don’t seem to be able to compose well-thought-out comments as quickly as I would like to.

  5. Kathleen
    Kathleen
    October 9, 2015, 4:48 pm

    Tree the “we” was confusing. Never clarified who the “we” is made up of.

  6. October 10, 2015, 12:23 am

    The fact that people are still arguing JVP’s stance toward Alison Weir in this site clearly shows most people here are latent anti-semites.

    You guys find it so hard to accept the fact that Jewish people are just as entitled as anyone to call out whatever they believe is racist or leans along that direction.

    Alison Weir is done and will be soon totally irrelevant, just like Zionism and the Israeli political establishment.

    • W.Jones
      W.Jones
      October 10, 2015, 10:42 am

      A4tech,
      The issue is not calling out racism, which is good to do. It’s the wisdom of banning all work with one of the main activists when the anti-racist activist is not actually accused by JVP of being racist herself. As Ali A says “We are not calling her anti-Semitic”.

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