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A boyhood shadowed by the impending fall of Palestine

Georgia Beeston on

A Palestinian Boyhood, the new autobiography by Palestinian writer Reja-e Busailah, relates a remarkable story about overcoming the challenges of growing up blind in Palestine in the years up to and including the 1948 Nakba, which uprooted his family. Georgia Beeston: “Simply written, the book takes the reader through the author’s daily life, underlining the everyday challenges of the visually impaired.””

The remarkable disappearing act of Israel’s car-bombing campaign in Lebanon or: What we (do not) talk about when we talk about ‘terrorism’

Rémi Brulin on
Israeli Defense Minister Ariel Sharon and IDF Chief of Staff Rafael Eitan in Lebanon in 1982. (Photo: David Rubinger/CORBIS)

Ronen Bergman’s book Rise and Kill First: The Secret History of Israel’s Targeted Assassinations tells that story of how from 1979 to 1983 very senior Israeli officials conducted a large-scale campaign of car-bombings that killed hundreds of Palestinians and Lebanese, most of them civilians. While the book has received the highest praise from reviewers, this secret operation has not been mentioned once. Remi Brulin writes this is a perfect illustration of the political discourse on “terrorism”: “The secret car-bombing operation Israeli officials conducted in Lebanon in the early 1980s represents a remarkable historical example of such ‘silences,’ and of the ‘rules’ that underlie the discourse on ‘terrorism’ and ensure that certain things simply ‘cannot be said,’ certain facts simply aren’t ever mentioned.”

The struggle against colonialism: a review of ‘Why Palestine Matters’

Nada Elia on

Nada Elia reviews ‘Why Palestine Matters: The Struggle to End Colonialism,’ a new book by the Presbyterian Church Israel Palestine Mission Network: “With Why Palestine Matters, the Israel Palestine Mission network of the Presbyterian Church is once again proving that it is serious in enacting solidarity, with a highly-readable book providing accessible analysis, online resources, discussion guidelines, and concrete action steps towards a solution.”

My father came home from prison when I was 7

Wasan Abu-Baker on

Wasan Abu-Baker pens a reflection on growing up in Palestine as a “child of the stone” dedicated to Ahed Tamimi. She recalls when her father first came home to live with the family after years in prison. Wasan was already seven: “I still remember those days when we came home from school and then going out to the field to pick the olives, then coming back home to finish our homework. After the harvest was completed we would take the olives to our family factory where the olives were pressed to make olive oil. I remember standing next to my dad to have a taste of the freshest olive oil along with my pita bread. He used to say that once you drink olive oil it becomes part of your soul. I will never forget and miss always miss the smell of olives on those days.”

The Insult: Six points toward clarification

Terri Ginsberg on

Controversy has arisen in recent weeks over the 2017 film, The Insult, Ziad Doueiri’s film and Lebanon’s submission to the 2018 Academy Awards. In a review, film scholar Terri Ginsberg says the movie is a vehicle for pro-Israel propaganda.

Norman Finkelstein’s new book on Gaza is a meticulous account of Israel’s crimes

James North on

Human rights organizations Amnesty International, B’Tselem and Human Rights Watch stopped itemizing Israeli crimes in the 2014 assault on Gaza, the worst of them all, Norman Finkelstein documents in his impassioned record of war crimes against the strip, Gaza: An Inquest Into Its Martyrdom, published by the University of California Press.

Examining ‘Ten Myths about Israel’, by Ilan Pappe

Allan C. Brownfeld on
Ilan Pappe

Palestine was not empty. The Jewish people are not a nation with a homeland in the Middle East. Palestine was not ‘redeemed’, it was colonized. Its people did not flee, they were ethnically cleansed. Jews are not all Zionists. These are some of the myths that scholar Ilan Pappe exposes in his new book.

‘Curricularizing Israel’– the Hebrew program in suburban Chicago schools

Liz Rose on

Pro-Israel groups are working to save the Hebrew program at Evanston Township High School, north of Chicago, where enrollment has slipped in recent years to only 34 students. “The message of these Hebrew programs are clear: If you’re going to learn Hebrew, you’re going to learn to love Israel.  No room exists for students to master the language while disagreeing with Israel’s policies”–writes Liz Rose, former Hebrew teacher in a Chicago area public school, who lost her job when she attempted to show students the Palestinian side of the story.

Trump’s Hanukkah gift

Marc H. Ellis on

Marc Ellis writes, “Seeing Trump’s Jerusalem Declaration as an end game, as if Trump’s Hanukkah gift came from out of the blue, is a mistake. When celebrated, it gives him too much credit. When lamented, it places too much blame on him. Jerusalem has been in stalemate since the formation of the state of Israel: West Jerusalem colonized by Israel since 1948; East Jerusalem colonized by Israel since 1967. Trump’s Hanukkah gift comes at the end of this colonization. It gives a green light to the final phase of Judaizing Jerusalem.”

Thousands march to UK parliament calling for justice on Balfour centenary

Lydia Noon on

Olive branches, a huge Palestinian flag, a large cardboard drawing of Lord Arthur Balfour, and Theresa May cartoons were some of the creative props displayed during the 15,000-strong ‘Justice Now: Make it Right for Palestine’ march and rally in London to mark the centenary of the Balfour Declaration.

The Balfour centenary is also the centenary of the Zionist lobby

Philip Weiss on

The Balfour Declaration was a wartime play by the British government to win international Jewry to its side. This meant the Russian masses in the U.S., and banker Jacob Schiff, who were against American entry into the war. The British may have exaggerated Jewish power, but Zionists lobbied successfully for the declaration by citing such power, marking the entry of the Israel lobby on the world stage.

May, Netanyahu celebrate Balfour while Palestinian politicians call for UK to apologize, recognize Palestinian state

Sheren Khalel on

As the hundred year anniversary of the Balfour Declaration takes way, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah, as well as various other Palestinian politicians are calling on the United Kingdom to not only apologize to the Palestinian people for the “suffering” caused by the declaration, but to also recognize Palestine as a state. Meanwhile, the UK is planning quite the opposite, as Israeli Prime Minister heads to a state dinner organized by UK Prime Minister Theresa May to celebrate the centennial.

Um Abed: a Palestinian woman who embodies the Balfour legacy

Mohammad Arafat on

Mohammad Arafat writes, “‘Once we heard about the declaration, we knew the future of Palestine and the Palestinians was in danger,’ Um Abed so softy I could barely hear her. She couldn’t say more without crying.”

PM May: Take back the Balfour Declaration – Israel reneged on the bargain

Ian Berman on

It is time that British Government declare that Israel has never lived up to the revered Balfour Declaration and rescind it once and for all. For if Great Britain believes in human rights and democracy, it will demand that Israel recognize the right of Palestinian refugees and their offspring to return home and to live as equal citizens under a representative government.

The Balfour Declaration set in motion the ethnic cleansing of Palestine

Rana Askoul on

Rana Askoul writes to British Prime Minister Teresa May: “I hear you will be celebrating the centenary of the Balfour declaration with ‘pride’. I hear you also said that you will be conscious of the sensitivities that some people have about the Balfour declaration and that there is more work to be done. Pride, sensitivities, some people, more work. In my mind, I picture you standing in front of my paternal grandmother, as she walked on her journey out of Palestine to Lebanon in 1948, clutching my father as a baby to her chest. I see you uttering these words to her. Pride, sensitivities, some people, more work. It seems Ms. May, you also have not the slightest clue as to how we Palestinians can move on. It seems Ms. May that you too, like your predecessors have chosen the easier wrong, over the harder right. It seems Ms. May, that you too need a lesson as to why we need to apologize when we have done wrong.”

Balfour Declaration’s 100th birthday prompts calls on Britain to apologize and recognize Palestinian rights

Philip Weiss and Allison Deger on

The 100th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration, on November 2, is turning out to be an important occasion for Palestinians to register their sense of betrayal by Britain for colonial-era promises that still govern the lives of so many people in Israel and Palestine, and to call on Britain to make the declaration “right” by assuring Palestinians’ rights at last. 

My journey away from Zionism

Jonathan Ofir on

Gideon Levy has described Zionism as “Israel’s fundamentalist religion.” But what happens to those Israelis who reject it? Jonathan Ofir describes his journey away from Zionism, and the societal exclusion that befalls those who drift away from the ethos.

‘It being clearly understood…’: What the Balfour Declaration tells us about Israel

Nada Elia on

Sixty-seven words. That is the full extent of the Balfour Declaration, and yet few documents have had as devastating an impact as this historical document. Still, Nada Elia writes that the cursory nature of its wording indicates a twentieth-century awareness that the dispossession of the Palestinian people was already considered anachronistic when the declaration was written 100 years ago.

Balfour and Britain’s broken promise

Tim Llewellyn on

Former BBC Middle East Correspondent Tim Llewellyn says Great Britain is a nation split between government and governed when it comes to Israel and Palestine: “If the British Conservative Government of Teresa May represented the views of the people of Britain rather than the preferences of the state of Israel on the disastrous outcome for the Palestinian Arabs of the Balfour Declaration of November 2, 1917, she would not be planning to celebrate this 100th anniversary with Binyamin Netanyahu, Israel’s Prime Minister. This will happen at a cosy London dinner party at the home of Lord Rothschild, heir to the recipient of that infamous letter from Arthur J. Balfour, Britain’s then Foreign Secretary.”

If the occupation is permanent, is an ethical Jewish future possible?

Marc H. Ellis on

In a lecture to the Tantur Ecumenical Institute on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of his book Toward a Jewish Theology of Liberation, Marc Ellis asks, “what are Jews to do with the permanent occupation that leaves Jewish identity permanently infected with atrocity?”