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If you want a fair definition of Zionism, it’s best to ask a Palestinian

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There are lots of good reasons to think the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism, now adopted “in full” by Labour’s national committee and by Labour MPs, is, well, a bit rubbish.

  • The actual definition of anti-Semitism is not up to much
  • The illustrations are a legal mess
  • It appears to be having no impact on anti-Semitism in the (few) countries which have endorsed it
  • And it’s already being used to prevent open debate on university campuses

A recent article by Tony Lerman gathers together all of these points and more.

It was short-term political expediency which drove this week’s decision-making, necessitated by an ongoing high-stakes campaign of vilification that takes no prisoners.

The Liberal Democrat Party has also fallen into line, no doubt realising that attempting to conduct a rational discussion over the merits of the IHRA burns up too much political capital. And now we read that the Church of England wants to adopt it too. The sanctification of this document is going ecumenical.

But there’s a further problem which should be reason enough to dump the whole IHRA definition, and its illustrations, in the rubbish bin. And it goes beyond the need to guarantee freedom of speech.

The truth of the matter is, the Jewish community can no longer define “Zionism,” or indeed “anti-Semitism,” without the help of Palestinians.

The right to define

I know what some people will be thinking.

Surely, it’s for the Jewish community, through its leadership, to determine what anti-Semitism is? What Zionism is? Surely, an oppressed people should have the right to define the nature of the oppression perpetrated against them? Hence the insistence that the Labour Party adopt, in full and without amendments or caveats, the IHRA definition and illustrations.

That’s what the Board of Deputies of British Jews has asked for. So surely, that’s what it should get?

It’s become a politically difficult task, if not impossible, to challenge this assertion of the right to define what’s perceived as exclusively Jewish experience and terminology, especially at a time when identity politics rules our daily discourse.

The President of the Board of Deputies, Marie van der Zyl, provided a good example of the accepted parameters of the debate in her statement welcoming the National Executive Committee’s (NEC) decision.

“It is very long overdue and regrettable that Labour has wasted a whole summer trying to dictate to Jews what constitutes offense against us.”

Similarly, the NEC’s addition of a one-sentence free speech caveat was characterized by Simon Johnson, CEO of the Jewish Leadership Council, as driving “a coach and horses” through the anti-Semitism definition:

“It is clearly more important to the Labour leader to protect the free speech of those who hate Israel than it is to protect the Jewish community from the real threats that it faces.”

Devoid of context

But this is a perspective devoid of historical context. It just doesn’t work for the situation in which we as a Jewish community now find ourselves, and which our leaders have done so much to create.

If defining “anti-Semitism” has become, to a considerable extent, what can and can’t be said about Israel and Zionism, then how can it be a question which only (some) Jews get to answer?

And if this is really all about the right to define your own oppression, then why does this rule not apply to the Palestinians?

It’s a bit like trying to define “British colonialism” by only asking the opinion of a 19th-century British diplomat. Or praising “American freedom and values” without acknowledging the experience of Native Americans or African Americans. It makes no sense because you only get half the story, half the lived experience (at most). The language and the ideas in question have more than one owner.

Inextricably linked

For more than 100 years, the history of the Palestinians and the Jews has been inextricably linked. Neither of us can understand our past or present condition without reference to the other. Neither people’s story is complete without the other.

Of course, our interlinked relationship is not one of equality. Our story is shared but the consequences of our entanglement are vastly different.

One side has rights and national self-determination. The other side is denied those same things in the name of Jewish security and Jewish national sovereignty. In short, one side has been empowered by dispossessing the other.

The Palestinians have even become caught up in the telling of the Holocaust. Successive generations of young Jews have been taught to see Israel, as it’s currently constituted, as the only rational response to our 20th-century catastrophe. The Palestinians are seen as attempting to thwart that response.

It’s this entanglement of narratives and the need to defend Israel’s legitimacy that have led to the muddle, the confusion and the deliberate politicization of “anti-Semitism” as a concept. And, by contrast, it’s led to the spiritualization of “Zionism” so it has become not a political project but an expression of Jewish faith.All of this has forfeited our right to independently define our oppression without consulting the victims of our new faith in Jewish nationalism. The meaning of “anti-Semitism” and “Zionism” is no longer ours to determine alone. These words, and most importantly the experiences they bring with them, now belong to the Palestinian people too.

To get beyond this, we as a Jewish community, need to confront Zionism’s past and present. We need to rethink Jewish security in a post-Holocaust world. We need to build broad coalitions to tackle all forms of discrimination. That must include antisemitism from the left, and more often the right, which uses anti-Jewish myths and prejudices to promote hatred of Jews for being Jews. And that includes those who use anti-Jewish tropes to critique Israel.

Above all the though, if we want to be serious, rather than tribal, about a fair definition of Zionism, we need to ask the Palestinian people what they think and believe and feel about it. And if they tell us “Zionism is a racist endeavor” we’d better pay attention.

Reflection and repentance

The Jewish High Holidays are coming up. They are a time for reflection and repentance as an individual Jew and as part of a Jewish community. I doubt we’ll see much sign of reflection or repentance on the question of Israel/Palestine. The denial is too deep. The fear of “the other” is too great. The emotional layers of self-preservation are too many.

Not all Jews can or should be held responsible for what’s done in the name of Zionism or the actions of the State of Israel. That’s anti-Semitism. But all Jews ought to feel obligated to speak out against the discrimination, ill-treatment, and racism carried out in the name of protecting Israel. To me, that’s Judaism. And if you don’t see the discrimination, ill-treatment and racism – then read more books, listen to more Palestinian voices, open your heart.

But whether we choose to face into it or not, our relationship with the Palestinian people will remain the single most important issue facing Jews and Judaism in the 21st century.

To my Jewish readers, Shana Tova! A good New Year! May our names be written in a Book of Life that is filled with love and justice for all who call the Holy Land home.

Postscript

Ten questions to the President of the Board of Deputies

For those not following me on Facebook or Twitter, I’ve been asked to reproduce the ten questions I put earlier this week to Marie van der Zyl, the President of the Board of Deputies of British Jews. No response forthcoming so far.

In a critical week for Labour and the Jewish community in Britian, here’s my ten questions to the president of the Board of Deputies, Marie van der Zyl.

1. Why are you ignoring the Jewish academic experts, notably: David Feldman, Director of the Pears Institute for the Study of Antisemitism; Dr. Brian Klug of Oxford University; and Tony Lerman, the former Director of the Institute for Jewish Policy Research, who have all made critical studies of the IHRA document and found it inadequate and unhelpful in numerous ways?

2. Why are you ignoring the concerns expressed by the original drafter of the IHRA definition and its illustrations, Kenneth Stern, who has said the document is already being used around the world to chill free speech?

3. Why are you ignoring the legal opinions of the document provided by Sir Stephen Sedley, Hugh Tomlinson QC and Geoffrey Robertson QC, who have drawn out its failings in detail?

4. Why do you defend Jewish rights to determine antisemitism but support a document which will deny the Palestinian people their right to define their experience of racism caused by Zionism?

5. Can you explain why you think that Israel’s 51-year occupation of the West Bank does not meet the international definition of Apartheid?

6. Will you acknowledge the findings of the 2016 Home Affairs Select Committee report on antisemitism which noted that “there exists no reliable, empirical evidence to support the notion that there is a higher prevalence of antisemitic attitudes within the Labour Party than any other political party”?

7. Are you able to provide evidence that antisemitism is “rife” among the Labour Party’s half a million members?

8. Can you explain why the Board chose to pursue its campaign against the Labour Party only after Jeremy Corbyn became its leader and despite a YouGov survey indicating a fall in anti-Semitism among Labour voters since 2015?

9. Are you at all concerned that the Board’s campaign against Jeremy Corbyn is creating an environment of fear within the Jewish community in Britain which is unjustified and disproportionate?

10. Having stated your commitment “to being a leader for the entire community,” when do you plan to meet formally with Independent Jewish Voices, Jews for Justice for Palestinians, Jewdas, Jewish Voice for Labour, or Na’amod – British Jews Against Occupation?

A version of this article was originally published by Robert A.H. Cohen on his blog at Patheos on September 6, 2018.

Robert Cohen
About Robert Cohen

Cohen is a British writer. He blogs at Micah's Paradigm Shift. http://micahsparadigmshift.blogspot.co.uk/

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38 Responses

  1. eljay
    eljay
    September 17, 2018, 3:25 pm

    … Not all Jews can or should be held responsible for what’s done in the name of Zionism or the actions of the State of Israel. That’s anti-Semitism. … ||

    But in the immortal words of proud Zionist JeffB:

    There is nothing anti-Semitic with blaming Jews for stuff that Jews institutionally support. … Not holding the Jews responsible for Jewish policy on the excuse that “well some Jews didn’t agree” is denying them agency.

    I’ll never understand why Zionists insist on hating Jews so much.

  2. pjdude
    pjdude
    September 17, 2018, 6:12 pm

    you have to remember zionists dont want anti semitism to go away. if it does it makes supporting their terrorism in palestine harder. as long as they can paint it a threat they have an excuse to do the horrible things they do.

    • johneill
      johneill
      September 17, 2018, 10:38 pm

      to the point that many zionists will betray their own antisemitism when a jew fails the ideological purity tests increasingly required for an israeli visa. not to mention yair netanyahu & his father never apologizing for the neonazi cartoon he shared.

  3. MHughes976
    MHughes976
    September 17, 2018, 6:21 pm

    The definition in itself is only slightly, perhaps only trivially, different from familiar ones which refer to prejudice and hostility. The whole point is the attempt to stipulate, where argument not stipulation is logically required, that a certain thing exemplifies what the definition covers. ‘Garishness is colour that is harshly or disconcertingly bright: for example the gold overlay of St. Mark’s Venice.’ I’m free to stipulate that this is the meaning of the word but that doesn’t allow me to impose by stipulation the judgement that SMV is garish: I have to try to persuade you that it’s harsh or disconcerting; I can’t order you to think that.
    In fact denial of the claim that Jewish behaviour in Palestine 48 was the exercise of a right (that of self determination) does not, if in any rational form, rest on – thus offer an example of – any particular opinion or perception of Jews.
    If an opinion is, for good or ill, widely held in a certain group, rather more than in others, it is not an expression of prejudice to think that there must be some dynamic at work among the group’s members which has this result and that even those members who do not share the opinion may be contributing to that dynamic by their ways of behaving and speaking. I might think of Swedish belief in certain forms of equality or support for Brexit in English northern towns.

  4. Stephen Shenfield
    Stephen Shenfield
    September 17, 2018, 9:43 pm

    Let’s challenge identity politics head on and insist that the right to define a phenomenon belongs to anyone with the requisite knowledge, insight and power of judgment, irrespective of ethnic or religious affiliation. Why not, for instance, take into account the views of all academic experts and not just the Jewish ones?

    • RoHa
      RoHa
      September 18, 2018, 1:17 am

      Exactly.

      “Surely, an oppressed people should have the right to define the nature of the oppression perpetrated against them?”

      Yes, but they are not the only ones with the right.

    • Maghlawatan
      Maghlawatan
      September 18, 2018, 4:57 am

      Power is about controlling the messaging, the memes and the discourse. There is no way non Jews can be allowed to influence anything.

    • MHughes976
      MHughes976
      September 18, 2018, 11:43 am

      I have reservations about ‘define’. I think that words are defined and phenomena described. Definitions come by stipulation (so aren’t right or wrong, only clear or obscure) and we all may, if we think it makes things clearer, offer our own definition of any term in use. Descriptions call for evidence, that’s why it’s an affront to logic to stipulate without argument that a defined term applies to a particular case, as ‘result or expression of a certain perception of Xs’ to ‘rejection of Xs’ claim to self-determination’.
      It follows from common sense that the oppressed should command attention when they describe their experiences – the wearer of the shoe tells where it pinches. But RoHa is quite right to say that this is not quite an exclusive right. All human attitudes are a bit self-reinforcing, so that admiration tends to become starry-eyed or flattering and grievance and anger may lead to exaggeration. Though the specific danger with the Palestinians is complacent understatement of their grievance by us.

  5. Nathan
    Nathan
    September 17, 2018, 10:36 pm

    If you ask a Palestinian “what is Zionism”, indeed, you might get an answer that “Zionism is a racist endeavor”. You might also hear about “colonialism”. However, you shouldn’t take the answer too seriously. There’s a tendency to give answers that might sound convincing to foreign ears, but these answers are not necessarily the true agenda. I would humbly suggest to Robert Cohen to learn to read Arabic in order to see how Zionism is presented to an Arabic-speaking audience. Good luck.

    I wonder what is the vision of the author. He tells us that we “need to confront Zionism’s past and present”. Does this mean that he wishes to end the existence of Israel, or does this mean that he wishes to give her some friendly criticism? I have my guess, but the author should spare me the need to read between the lines. Can we please have an article that is blunt and straight to the point? Thanks.

    • RoHa
      RoHa
      September 18, 2018, 1:18 am

      Do tell us the real agenda.
      Tell us how Zionism is presented to an Arabic-speaking audience.

      • Mooser
        Mooser
        September 18, 2018, 11:53 am

        “Do tell us the real agenda.”

        “Nathan’s” disinterested, unprejudiced, informed and humane point-of-view is so valuable in that respect.
        He wouldn’t sell us a bum steer when it comes to the Palestinian agenda.

      • RoHa
        RoHa
        September 18, 2018, 10:52 pm

        Of course he wouldn’t.

    • Talkback
      Talkback
      September 18, 2018, 8:15 am

      Nathan: “If you ask a Palestinian “what is Zionism”, indeed, you might get an answer that “Zionism is a racist endeavor”. You might also hear about “colonialism”. ”

      That’s not only their answer, but also the answer of South Africans. Turning Palestine into a Jewish Commonwealth, expelling Nonjews because of their heritage is indeed racist. And settling in Palestine without the consent of its native population is indeed settler colonialism.

      Nathan: ” However, you shouldn’t take the answer too seriously.”

      Is that your ‘counter argument’? ROFL.

      • MHughes976
        MHughes976
        September 18, 2018, 12:34 pm

        Al-Jazeera has a ‘Palestine Remix’ featuring the statement that Z is ‘a colonial movement suporting the establishment by any means necessary of a Jewish state in historic Palestine’. Maybe our Zionist colleagues would say that nothing fitting this definition has ever existed. But perhaps they would withdraw this objection if there were a bit of clarification to specify that ‘colonial’ means (only) ‘introducing a population from elsewhere’ and ‘historic Palestine’ means ‘the area for good or ill long called Palestine’. Maybe this would be enough to get a discussion of the rights and wrongs going

      • Nathan
        Nathan
        September 19, 2018, 8:12 pm

        MHughes976 – Maybe there is some sort of fantasy in the comments’ section that if someone could raise the winning argument that Israel just shouldn’t be, then “hocus pocus” she will cease to be. I think it’s a total waste of time clarifying what is colonialism or what is Palestine. Israel has come into existence (and it happened quite a long time ago), and she seems to be quite a successful state (and the weather is always super). If you feel that it’s necessary to get a discussion going about the “rights and wrongs”, that might be fun – but nothing will change on the ground. Tomorrow morning Israel will still be there, her population will continue to boom, her economy will thrive and she’ll manage to deal with the conflict quite successfully. And the weather will be nice as well.

      • eljay
        eljay
        September 20, 2018, 7:49 am

        || Nathan: Maybe there is some sort of fantasy in the comments’ section that if someone could raise the winning argument that Israel just shouldn’t be, then “hocus pocus” she will cease to be. … ||

        I don’t know if such a fantasy exists. But there most-definitely exists a delusion in the Zionist world that the religion-based identity of Jewish grants to those who choose to hold it the right…
        – to a religion-supremacist “Jewish State” in as much as possible of Palestine; and
        – to do unto others acts of injustice and immorality they would not have others do unto them,
        …and if enough (pro-)Jewish supremacists participate in this evil, then “hocus pocus” it will be transformed into virtue.

      • MHughes976
        MHughes976
        September 20, 2018, 5:37 pm

        I don’t think in general that the ideal ever becomes real and I don’t think in particular that Israel is about to collapse in a heap. I do think that idealism, the effort of the mind to bring right from wrong, does have some influence and effect on real events – not itself guaranteed to be a good effect, I agree – so it is worth keeping up the conversation. I do think that Israel, for all that is good in the lives of its denizens, is doing enormous harm.

      • Nathan
        Nathan
        September 21, 2018, 10:00 am

        MHughes976 – I hope that you are aware of the fact that there is no monopoly (i.e no universal agreement) on “idealism” or on the “rights and wrongs”. There is a conflict, and each side believes that it is in the “right” (and the other side is in the “wrong”). Therefore, the only option is a political agreement. A political agreement means that you’ll have to accept a compromise that negates your sense of “right and wrong”, but you’ll be willing to live with it nevertheless.

      • Talkback
        Talkback
        September 21, 2018, 10:30 am

        Nathan: “There is a conflict, and each side believes that it is in the “right” (and the other side is in the “wrong”). ”

        Nope, there is an occupation and Apartheid and only people like you think that it isn’t wrong.

      • Maghlawatan
        Maghlawatan
        September 21, 2018, 12:07 pm

        Nathan

        International law and the laws of war are commonly accepted guides to what is not right and Israel ignores them systematically.

      • MHughes976
        MHughes976
        September 22, 2018, 6:09 pm

        I agree, Nathan, that if there exists a compromise which can gain general acceptance it should be found. A necessary step towards finding it, if it’s there, is to have both – or all – sides state what in their view a fair and final resolution would be like. We should ask this particularly of Israel, the ,most powerful agent. I think that pressing for Israel to make these things clear is the most important – maybe just within practicality – short term objective. Since what people say is influenced by the reception they expect I think that we should influence Western opinion, by argument about the rights and wrongs of this terrible and menacing situation, not to be too indulgent to Israeli ideas, which in my view are supported only by arguments which are pretty bad. I know that peace, goodwill and justice are never fully realised and that great changes rarely occur overnight but I still think it’s worthwhile trying to make things better rather than worse.

      • RoHa
        RoHa
        September 23, 2018, 12:46 am

        “There is a conflict, and each side believes that it is in the “right” (and the other side is in the “wrong”). ”

        Of course, one side – the Zionist side – actually is in the wrong.

        “Therefore, the only option is a political agreement. A political agreement means that you’ll have to accept a compromise that negates your sense of “right and wrong”, but you’ll be willing to live with it nevertheless.’

        And the Palestinians have been offering compromise after compromise almost as soon as they realized that the Zionist intention was to take their land. As MHughes says, we should see a Zionist declaration of their idea of a just compromise.

        But we would still have the problem that was revealed most clearly with the Oslo accords. Israel cannot be trusted to keep to a deal.

    • Misterioso
      Misterioso
      September 18, 2018, 10:34 am

      @Nathan

      ” Does this mean that he wishes to end the existence of Israel,…”

      The Zionist entity known as “Israel” is doing a great job of ending itself.

  6. Marnie
    Marnie
    September 18, 2018, 12:10 am

    So infantile. The more people speak out against zionism, israel’s racist laws, the brutal subjugation of palestinians and the theft of their lands, which has been very well-documented and is very precise, the ‘definition’ of antisemitism has become broader and broader and all encompassing to the point if you spit in the wind towards ‘eretz israel’ you’re an antisemite. This I believe is because the zionist state is and has been feeling the effects of BDS (and a decade of bloody netanyahooo) and it hurts. But they insist BDS has had no effect, but have created many laws and ways to punish its proponents. Sour grapes and settlement whine are non-sellers where people believe in justice for palestine. So they push back the only way they know how. And the blowback from their intransigence is felt in the only language they really understand – shekels and agorot.

    And of course it was a PR disaster to refuse the al Tamimi’s to leave Nabi Saleh at the invitation of European supporters on a speaking tour. Like the saying goes, the zionists never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity.

    • Misterioso
      Misterioso
      September 18, 2018, 10:47 am

      @Marnie

      Ahed Tamimi is on a speaking tour of Europe. BRAVA AHED!!

      https://www.mintpressnews.com/ahed-tamimi-france/249406/

      “Ahed Tamimi Finally Travels to France Despite Israeli Obstacles”

      “Ahed Tamimi, the resistance teen icon from Palestine, traveled to France Friday for an event where she asked people to support the Palestinian cause and to boycott Israel.” teleSUR, Sept. 17/18

      “Ahed Tamimi, the Palestinian resistance icon, traveled to France for a debate on Friday. The young resistance leader was invited by L’Humanité newspaper and the French Communist party, or PCF, to participate in an event organized by Association France Palestine Solidarite.

      “Ahed spoke Sunday at the Fete de L’Humanité (Festival of Humanity) which is organized annually by the PCF and its newspaper L’Humanité at La Courneuve in Seine-Saint-Denis.

      “‘I want to say to Trump that Jerusalem will remain the capital of Palestine,’ Ahed Tamimi said in reference to the decision of the U.S. president to move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv, addressing thousands of people who attended the last day of the event.

      “’The Palestinian refugees, we do not need the money of the Americans, but to return to our land’ and find ‘our dignity,’ she added. ‘We must be united in the face of the occupation.’

      “She went on to describe her own experience as a young Palestinian under Israeli brutal occupation. ‘When you’re a young Palestinian who is 17 years old today, you suffer on a daily basis the practices of the Israeli occupation … even Palestinian children are arrested at checkpoints and Israeli-controlled.’

      “The Palestinian people, Ahed concluded, ‘we are not victims, we are fighters for freedom.’

      “The 17-year-old teenager from Nabi Saleh village in the occupied West Bank was jailed for eight months for slapping two Israeli occupation soldiers who were harassing her family at their home’s yard. Her action in December last year was recorded and went viral on social media. attracting applause from the supporters of Palestinian resistance globally, while also infuriating Israelis some of whom asked for her to be shot and killed.

      “Ahed and her mother Nariman, both had been jailed in an Israeli prison since December 2017 before receiving a few weeks early release in late July.

      “Ahed received a warm welcome from the people gathered at the event in France where she talked about how her life has changed during her imprisonment. The young resistance icon doesn’t regret her actions and said that prison helped her to be more mature. Immediately after her release, while speaking to media, she said she and her other inmates studied international law in the prison.

      “Speaking to RT during her trip in France, the young Palestinian activist said that despite being released she does not think that she is out of trouble as each of her words can be used against her and land her in prison again.

      “She further called for boycotting Israel and asked people to spread the truth about the suffering of Palestinians due to Israeli occupation.

      “The news of her France visit comes just a week after she was informed by Palestinian authorities that she was not allowed to leave the country due to an Israeli ban on her and her family from doing so. Her father had said that they were not given any definite reason for the ban.

      “Ahed is now expected to travel through Europe to talk about Palestine’s resistance and her time in Israeli prison. Her next stop will be in Spain to participate in more solidarity events.”

      • Marnie
        Marnie
        September 18, 2018, 11:34 am

        Best wishes to Ahed and Nariman (thanks for updating)!

      • Maghlawatan
        Maghlawatan
        September 18, 2018, 12:31 pm

        Ahed was interviewed in the Financial Times at the weekend. She is very impressive.

      • MHughes976
        MHughes976
        September 18, 2018, 12:36 pm

        I wonder if she is seeking to visit the UK? Would our awful government admit her?

      • amigo
        amigo
        September 18, 2018, 1:21 pm

        It would be Antisemetic to alllow her the opportunity to make UK .Jewish citizens uncomfortable and experience victimhood.

        Clearly Jeremy Corbyn needs to stand up and oppose any such plan or risk the wrath the board of British Jews.

        Come on Jeremy . demonstrate to all that you have abandoned your Antisemitic ways.

  7. WebSkipper
    WebSkipper
    September 18, 2018, 8:44 am

    “Zionism from the Standpoint of Its Victims” by Edward Said is a classic. Here’s a PDF:

    https://racismandnationalconsciousnessresources.files.wordpress.com/2008/11/edward-said-zionism-from-the-standpoint-of-its-victims.pdf

  8. Ossinev
    Ossinev
    September 18, 2018, 1:11 pm

    @MHughes976
    “I wonder if she is seeking to visit the UK? Would our awful government admit her?2

    I know that a Corbyn led UK goverment would happily welcome her .As for the current crop of Tories I am not so sure since they are seriously bought,bent and warped by Zionists (whoops just contravened that God Given IHRA Tablets of Stone etc definition again).

  9. inbound39
    inbound39
    September 18, 2018, 8:17 pm

    The definition of Zionism is constantly changing so no-one is ever clear what it means. This is so Zionists can keep their butts clear of trouble or criticism. Originally Zionism was non religious. It adopted religion merely paying lip service to it in order to increase its support in order to raise the State of Israel. True Zionists are not religious at all. Reading Theodor Herzl’s early works will prove that. It was based on socialism.

  10. gamal
    gamal
    September 19, 2018, 9:19 am

    “For more than 100 years, the history of the Palestinians and the Jews has been inextricably linked. Neither of us can understand our past or present condition without reference to the other. Neither people’s story is complete without the other”

    Zionism did not create Palestinians. Palestine or anything but an unholy mess, which is not actually the story of Palestine, just imagine if you actually knew any Palestinians you might not write the above, “story” ..? you’re not trying to sneak ‘narrative’ past me are you?

    Read any muhammad taha ali, you know the man from Galilee?

    • Maghlawatan
      Maghlawatan
      September 20, 2018, 8:23 am

      TAM -not just Galilee- Saffouriyeh

      Thaqafah :

      https://www.nybooks.com/articles/2009/12/03/the-palestinian-poet-who-came-back/

      http://mondoweiss.net/2017/03/unlikely-dramatic-muhammad/

      A poem about the night the village was conquered, by the poet Taha Muhammad Ali, Saffouriyeh resident who became an “internal refugee” in Israel:

      “We did not weep
      when we were leaving –
      for we had neither
      time nor tears,
      and there was no farewell.
      We did not know
      at the moment of parting
      that it was a parting, so where would our weeping
      have come from?

      jahiliyyeh

      https://www.jweekly.com/1997/04/11/conflicts-surface-from-the-ancient-ruins-at-moshav-tzipori/

      • gamal
        gamal
        September 20, 2018, 10:32 am

        “by the poet Taha Muhammad Ali, Saffouriyeh resident who became an “internal refugee” ”

        he was a god of the word, I think Cohen wants some credit for his works, seems appropriate, it would be antisemitic not to grant him co-authorship.

      • Maghlawatan
        Maghlawatan
        September 20, 2018, 2:03 pm

        https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/54301/abd-el-hadi-fights-a-superpower

        Abd el-Hadi Fights a Superpower
        BY TAHA MUHAMMAD ALI

        In his life
        he neither wrote nor read.
        In his life he
        didn’t cut down a single tree,
        didn’t slit the throat
        of a single calf.
        In his life he did not speak
        of the New York Times
        behind its back,
        didn’t raise
        his voice to a soul
        except in his saying:
        “Come in, please,
        by God, you can’t refuse.”

        Nevertheless—
        his case is hopeless,
        his situation
        desperate.
        His God-given rights are a grain of salt
        tossed into the sea.

        Ladies and gentlemen of the jury:
        about his enemies
        my client knows not a thing.
        And I can assure you,
        were he to encounter
        the entire crew
        of the aircraft carrier Enterprise,
        he’d serve them eggs
        sunny-side up,
        and labneh
        fresh from the bag.

  11. Hanna Kawas
    Hanna Kawas
    October 2, 2018, 6:42 pm

    It seems that “If you want a fair definition of Zionism, it’s best to ask a Palestinian” is a token gesture. As a Palestinian activist I recently submitted an article to Mondoweiss on what progressive Palestinians think about Zionism and anti-Semitism.
    It was rejected with the editor saying “This article seemed a bit more wide ranging, and I think would benefit from focusing on the current situation and politics taking place in Canada”, implying that my analysis on Zionism and anti-Semitism somehow was not suitable for Mondoweiss.
    Judge for yourselves…
    http://www.cpavancouver.org/index.php/2018/09/18/why-we-oppose-zionism-and-anti-semitism/

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