Tag Archives: Palestine

Reflections on Dissent -How Is Hannah Arendt Relevant for Contemporary Israel and India? Ira Chadha-Sridhar

This is a guest post by IRA CHADHA-SRIDHAR

In 2016, the age-old conflict between Israel and Palestine has become tougher and more violent at the ground level. The year has come with several disturbing developments in the region- the intensification of the Gaza blockade, the subsequent statement by the Hamas threatening to implement an explosion unless the blockade is lifted and Israel’s rejection of the French peace treaty for the region. Jean-Marc Ayrault, French Foreign Affairs Minister said, in April 2016 that, “The two sides are further apart than ever.” In other news, Ken Livingstone, the former mayor of London, has been criticized for his statements claiming Hitler himself was a Zionist before “he went mad and ended up killing six million Jews”. The merits of Livingstone’s statements and the fallacious reasoning he employs has been rightly criticized by several international commentators. However, he has unknowingly raised larger, more important questions by his statements about how to criticize the Israeli state without being branded as “anti-Semitic” within international discourse- a problem that several commentators critical of the Israeli regime have faced. How can the international community legitimately advance its criticism of the Israeli state? Although critics of Israel are usually non-Jews, there has been a vibrant critique of the oppressive Israeli regime from the Jewish diaspora itself. For historical instruction, in this article, I draw upon the work of one of the earliest and most controversial voices of critique from the Israeli diaspora- the brutally honest voice of 20th century political philosopher, Hannah Arendt. Her book of unparalleled political influence, ‘Eichmann in Jersulelam: A Report on the Banality of Evil’, created what scholars often refer to as a “war” amongst intellectuals across the world that brought to question the validity of her theories and their political and global ramifications. (Elon 2006) Amongst the Jews, and, in particular, in Israel, Arendt’s work was met with anger and severe political backlash. She was labelled “Anti-Jew”, “Nazi” and a “Jew-hater”- labels that were intended to act as violent threats against her distinct, free intellectual voice. (Elon 2006). Continue reading Reflections on Dissent -How Is Hannah Arendt Relevant for Contemporary Israel and India? Ira Chadha-Sridhar

Remember the Indian commitment to Palestine! Palestine Solidarity Committee in India

Personally, it’s reached a point where there isn’t one single thing done in the name of ‘India’ that doesn’t make me deeply ashamed…(NM)

Statement from Palestine Solidarity Committee in India

The Palestine Solidarity Committee, the All India Peace and Solidarity Organisation and Indian Campaign for the Cultural and Academic Boycott of Israel condemns the government of India’s abstention from a UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) vote for adoption of a UN Inquiry Commission report on Israel’s attack on Gaza, Palestine, last year. This is a blatant reversal of India’s longstanding policy of support to the Palestinians against Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and Gaza. The vote in the 47-member Council was overwhelmingly against Israel; 41 countries vote in favor of the resolution, only one – the U.S. – voted against it; India was one of the 5 countries who abstained.

This is the first time India has abstained on such a resolution in the UNHRC. Even in July last year, New Delhi voted in favour of a UNHRC resolution criticizing Israel for the Gaza war.

Continue reading Remember the Indian commitment to Palestine! Palestine Solidarity Committee in India

Boycott the Israeli embassy sponsored performance of the Maria Kong Dance Company in Delhi: INCACBI

Statement from The Indian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel 

Don’t let apartheid onstage!

Protest against the ‘Israel in India’ initiative!

Boycott the Israeli embassy sponsored performance of the Maria Kong Dance Company at Kamani Auditorium, New Delhi, November 4, 2014

On 4th November, 2014, the Maria Kong Dance Company will perform at the Kamani Auditorium as part of the “Israel in India” initiative, with support from the Israeli embassy in India. This is part of the 8th Delhi International Arts Festival, organised by the Prasiddha Foundation with the support of organisations including the ICCR.

The festival aims to “serve as a significant platform for cultural diplomacy” and “provide a common ground for interaction between the artists and the mass audience”. Is a common ground possible between the Israel and Indians of conscience, whether artists or citizens? Is “cultural diplomacy” possible with Israel when it has attacked Gaza so brutally earlier this year, and held its people to ransom for years? Since Israel does not respect international law and recognize the Palestinian people’s right to freedom, equality and justice, the Indian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (InCACBI) demands that Israel be boycotted from the Indian cultural arena.

Continue reading Boycott the Israeli embassy sponsored performance of the Maria Kong Dance Company in Delhi: INCACBI

When David Became Goliath: Lee-Alison Sibley

Guest post by LEE-ALISON SIBLEY

Back in the 1960s when Hollywood was making a number of movies based on biblical stories, they came out with Orson Welles as King Saul in “David and Goliath.” I was a little kid when I saw this movie, but I remember identifying with little David who yes, played beautifully on his harp, and used his slingshot with divine accuracy. I also remember the monster Goliath – he was huge and ugly and represented the Philistines, our enemies.  I cheered in my head and my heart for David to defeat the monster and he did, so that I could feel the good guys won and God was indeed on our side, the side of the Israelites.

Like any idealistic Jew, though not religious, I went to Israel to work on a kibbutz in the summer of 1971.  I was in the south, near Eilat and the border with Jordan.  Young and naïve, I was friendly with everyone I met — the Sabras of Israel, the Christians in Bethlehem, and Arabs in Gaza. In Gaza?  Yes, I was there with a British fellow from the kibbutz who was picking up some cane furniture he had ordered.  I wasn’t supposed to be there, of course, and when an Israeli army jeep spotted me, my friend was in big trouble.  “Get her out of here immediately!” was the order he shouted.  I guess it had something to do with my appearance and that there were no other women on the street at that time.  Like I said, I was friendly with everyone – my parents did not raise me to hate, they raised me to love.  The Israelis tried to make me feel guilty for not staying in Israel, but I kept saying, “I’m an American, my home is the U.S.A.”  Still, I certainly supported Israel and every person I met there had lost someone, a family member or a friend in a war and I felt very sad for them and angry that they lived with the constant threat of attack. Continue reading When David Became Goliath: Lee-Alison Sibley

स्तब्धता और खामोशी

स्तब्धता क्या हमेशा भाषा के लोप या उसकी असमर्थता की अवस्था है? ऐसे अवसर होते हैं जब स्तब्धता अपने आप में भाषिक प्रतिकार या भर्त्सना बन जाती है.अगर चीखना एक छोर है भाषा-व्यवहार का, तो खामोश हो जाना दूसरा छोर. यह भी होता है चीख इतनी तेज़ हो और इतनी तीव्र कि साधारण श्रवण-क्षमता के बाहर हो जाए.

जिसे चुप्पी कहा जाता है, वह कुछ मौकों पर एकतरफा और कई बार दोतरफा फैसले का नतीजा होती है. खामोशी,मौन या स्तब्धता प्रायः इस बात का सूचक होती है कि भाषा के लिए जिस सामाजिक पर्यावरण की व्याप्तता को सहज माना जाता है,वह छिन्न-भिन्न हो गया है.यह नहीं कि बोलने को कुछ नहीं है, लेकिन बोलने वाला जान चुका होता है उसका बोलना व्यर्थ है क्योंकि उसे सुनने की पात्रता सामने का पक्ष खो बैठा है. Continue reading स्तब्धता और खामोशी

African Solidarity with Palestine: African scholars and scholars of Africa

We, the undersigned African scholars and scholars of Africa, hold that silence about the latest humanitarian catastrophe caused by Israel’s new military assault on the Gaza Strip—the third and most devastating in six years—constitutes complicity. Member state of NATO which mounted an air war on Libya ostensibly to protect civilians in Benghazi have been by and large quiet about the fate of civilians in Gaza. World governments and mainstream media do not hold Israel accountable for its violations of international law. We, however, as a community of scholars have a moral responsibility to do so.

Neither the violation of international law nor the destruction of Palestinian life in Gaza, however, began or will end with the current war[1]. The suffering of Palestinians is not limited to Gaza: the occupation and dispossession in East Jerusalem, the Naqab (Negev), and the West Bank; the construction of walls and fences around the Palestinian population, the curtailment of Palestinian freedom of movement and education, and the house demolitions, all have long histories that will have to be addressed. 

Continue reading African Solidarity with Palestine: African scholars and scholars of Africa

Gandhi, Palestine and Israel: Irfan Ahmad

Guest post by IRFAN AHMAD

Amidst Israel’s recent deadly attacks on Gaza and what Venezuela’s President called ‘its policy of genocide’, many have invoked Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (1869–1948) on two counts. First, he opposed settler colonialism. One analyst in The Economic Times gave a quote, also shared on Facebook: ‘Palestine belongs to the Arabs in the same sense that England belongs to the English and France to the French’. Second, implicit in invoking Gandhi is the idea that he stood for non-violence and thus the indicting advice to the terrorised Palestinians to ‘choose peace’.

Both these positions linked to Gandhi, when analysed historically, are misleading, even incorrect and wrong. In 1921, Gandhi did oppose the imposition of Jews over the Arab land. However, later he subtly endorsed settler colonialism. As for Gandhi’s official preaching of non-violence and civil disobedience (satyagraha), they were at best tactical, contextual and temporary. Contrary to his deified mythology as apostle of non-violence, Gandhi indeed justified killing, even felt proud of violence, and opposed civil disobedience when both suited his political and national interests. Continue reading Gandhi, Palestine and Israel: Irfan Ahmad

Breaking the Silence about Gaza from Israel: Yehuda Shaul

Guest Post by YEHUDA SHAUL

In November 2012, Israel launched a military operation in the Gaza Strip called “Amud Anan”, the literal English translation of which is, “Pillar of Clouds”. Though, the official name in English was deemed, “Pillar of Defense”. A few days ago we launched another operation named, “Mighty Cliff”, which is officially called, “Protective Edge”. Both chosen titles are highly defensive in their essence. When I hear the names given to military operations in Gaza – especially the versions chosen for an international audience – I am reminded of my military service as a combatant in the Israeli army, whose full name (both in Hebrew and English) is: the “Israel Defense Forces” (IDF).

Continue reading Breaking the Silence about Gaza from Israel: Yehuda Shaul

Concerned Public Health Professionals on the Israeli attack on Gaza

The following is a statement issued by some concerned public health professionals in New Delhi, on 21st July, 2014

The world is once again witness to the macabre dance of death in Gaza unleashed by the Israeli aggressors, and once again the news of scores of innocent Palestinian deaths, including those of a number of women and children, is flooding in. The tragedy is compounded many-fold by the conspiracy of silence on this issue entered into by all the major powers of the world, who have singularly failed to take any effective measure to restrain the Israeli aggressors. The only exception to this silence is USA, Israel’s long time sponsor, which has once again blocked efforts at the United Nations to pass any motion of censure against Israel.

Israel’s alibi for the latest attack – to punish perpetrators of abduction and murder of three Israeli boys, holds little merit when Israel is the occupying force in first place and its leaders are belligerently calling for annihilation of ordinary Palestinian lives without discretion in accordance with their doctrine of ‘collective responsibility.’ The deputy speaker of Israeli Knesset, Moshe Feiglin has called Arab people “a gang of bandits” and has argued in favor of Israeli government cutting off electricity supply to Gaza in order to paralyze its hospitals. His reported statement is – “The blood of a dialysis patient in Gaza is not redder than the blood of our IDF (Israeli Defense Forces) soldiers who will, God forbid, need to enter Gaza.” Continue reading Concerned Public Health Professionals on the Israeli attack on Gaza

Last Night in Gaza: Mads Gilbert

This correspondence has been received from Mads Gilbert

Dearest friends

The last night was extreme. The “ground invasion” of Gaza resulted in scores and carloads with maimed, torn apart, bleeding, shivering, dying – all sorts of injured Palestinians, all ages, all civilians, all innocent.

The heroes in the ambulances and in all of Gaza’s hospitals are working 12-24hrs shifts, grey from fatigue and inhuman workloads (without payment all in Shifa for the last 4 months), they care, triage, try to understand the incomprehensible chaos of bodies, sizes, limbs, walking, not walking, breathing, not breathing, bleeding, not bleeding humans. HUMANS! Now, once more treated like animals by “the most moral army in the world” (sic!).

My respect for the wounded is endless, in their contained determination in the midst of pain, agony and shock; my admiration for the staff and volunteers is endless, my closeness to the Palestinian “sumud” gives me strength, although in glimpses I just want to scream, hold someone tight, cry, smell the skin and hair of the warm child, covered in blood, protect ourselves in an endless embrace – but we cannot afford that, nor can they. Continue reading Last Night in Gaza: Mads Gilbert

Last of Warsaw Ghetto Survivors Calls for Rebellion Against Israeli Occupation

Rebel against the Occupation. No–it is forbidden for us to rule over another people, to oppress another [people].  The most important thing is to achieve peace and an end to the cycle of blood[letting].  My generation dreamed of peace.  I so want to achieve it.  You have the power to help.  All my hopes are with you.  If only [you could]. – Chavka Fulman-Raban, arrested and imprisoned at Auschwitz, two of her family members died as resistance fighters.

Last year, long before this current round of blood-lust, Chavka Fulman-Raban, among the last of the Warsaw Ghetto survivors delivered, On Yom Ha-Shoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day), “a fierce denunciation of evil and injustice, including the Israeli Occupation. Her speech was offered to guests at the ceremony of Beit Lohamey Ha-Getaot (the Ghetto-Fighters House)”, says Richard Silverstein, who has translated the speech into English.

The once-invincible Nazism did not last. Zionazism too will not last, however invincible it might appear today. And we must say it loud and clear: Zionism is not about Jews and Judaism. To oppose Zionism is not anti-Semitism. As if this simple fact needs to be stated. But it seems it does, over and over again. Just as Judith Butler had to recently, contesting Lawrence Summers, President, Harvard University. So virulent is the mobilization of the Zionist fascists, especially inside Israel, that what David Shulman recently referred to as “lynch gangs” and “organized fascist groups”, have been on the prowl attacking, killing Palestinians and protestors against the bombings. And cheering the lynch mobs and fascists gangs are spectators of the kind we see below:

Israeli viewers enjoy the spectacle of Gaza
Israeli viewers enjoy the spectacle of Gaza

Continue reading Last of Warsaw Ghetto Survivors Calls for Rebellion Against Israeli Occupation

Life in a ‘Sterilized’ Zone, Hebron, Palestine: Ravinder Kaur

Guest Post and Photograps by RAVINDER KAUR

Map of Hebron, Courtesy ‘Breaking the Silence

On 12th June, 2014, the kidnapping of three Israeli teenagers near Hebron resulted a massive military search operation in the area. Since 30th June when their dead bodies were found north of Hebron, a Palestinian teenager has been abducted and killed in a revenge attack in East Jerusalem, and concerted air strikes have been launched on Gaza by the Israeli forces as punishment to Hamas who Israel holds responsible for the abduction and murder of the teenagers. In ten days of Israeli air strikes more than 216 have been killed in Gaza, and rocket firing by Hamas has claimed one life in Israel. A ground invasion began yesterday evening. Even as talks of a possible ceasefire, and resuming normal life, take shape, one might consider what ‘normality’ constitutes in a place like Hebron that has been at the center of the current conflict. It is in the normal, the routine that the spectacular violence takes shape.

Continue reading Life in a ‘Sterilized’ Zone, Hebron, Palestine: Ravinder Kaur

Israel’s Template for the Globe’s Future:Satya Sagar

 Guest Post by Satya Sagar

For all those who think that Israel is run by the most despicable, racist and repressive regime in the world here is some very bad news indeed.

Not only are the Israeli state and its ruthless methods here to stay they could also be, very frighteningly, a prototype of our collective global future.

 Watching the unbelievable destruction wrought by the Israelis in Gaza a simple question very high on many minds must be “How in hell does this artificially concocted child of European guilt and American ambition get away with all this again and again and again?”’

The answer is that instead of being a strange historical aberration Israel may well be a model state that global elites want to establish to control the world in the days to come. Continue reading Israel’s Template for the Globe’s Future:Satya Sagar

Scholar David Shulman on the Gaza Bombings

The following is a report from the indefatigable Prof David Shulman, who teaches at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Prof Shulman works on the history of religion in South India and poetry and poetics in Tamil, Telegu and Sanskrit. David Shulman writes as protests inside Israel increase, as do right-wing attacks on the protestors. This report has been circulated by Prof Louise Bethlehem of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

Jews demonstrate in New York Against Bombings
Jews demonstrate in New York Against Bombings

July 12, 2014 Umm al-Ara’is, Susya, Bi’r al-‘Id, Ma’asara

Business as usual in the South Hebron hills. There’s a war on in Gaza, but that too is business as usual, the meaningless biannual ritual in which both sides gleefully smash one another before reverting to the status quo ante. The Israeli media are drowning us in words, a vast and raucous flood, and the government is putting out its familiar, mendacious statements; perhaps in recent days only Abu Mazen has spoken the truth. The only solution, he said, is a political one, and Netanyahu is no partner. Meanwhile, rockets are flying, the Air Force is bombing, children are dying, soldiers are doing what soldiers mostly do, that is, wait around, and in South Hebron the land-grab proceeds apace, as always. Nothing, it seems, can stop that.

But wait a minute, some things have changed. Since the horrible murder of three Israeli teenagers, followed by the equally abominable revenge killing of the Palestinian boy from Shuafat, Israel has witnessed a wave of racist hatred on a scale perhaps not known before. Part of it has to do with the near-infinite opportunities of the internet: tens of thousands of virulent hate messages sent by ordinary Israelis have clogged the major sites; thousands of them call openly for revenge. I remember a time somewhat like this one, in the summer and autumn of 1982, the days of the first Lebanon War; the nadir came when a hate-filled nationalist threw a grenade into a Peace Now demonstration, killing my student, Emil Grunzweig. Some of the internet sites these days have called for the execution of leftists. Perhaps most striking of all is the utter shamelessness of this wave. Probably people used to have these same feelings but were not so ready, or eager, to state them in public. Decades of demagoguery and xenophobic incitement by the right, including, famously, by Netanyahu himself, have had an effect. The sluices are open. Continue reading Scholar David Shulman on the Gaza Bombings

The Memory of Fifty Seven Seconds: After Watching an Israeli Missile Strike in the Gaza Strip on Al-Jazeera

A short fragment of video, fifty seven seconds long, taken from behind a window in a building in the Gaza Strip which was aired last night on Al Jazeera television brought home (once again) the sheer horror of the Israeli Defence Forces’ (IDF) brutal, ongoing offensive against the people of Palestine with devastating clarity.

Continue reading The Memory of Fifty Seven Seconds: After Watching an Israeli Missile Strike in the Gaza Strip on Al-Jazeera

Israeli repression at The Gate of the Sun

Bab-AlShams

On January 11, 2013, 250 men and women from across Palestine established a new Palestinian village named “Bab Al shams” (Gate of the Sun).

They declared:

We, the sons and daughters of Palestine from all throughout the land, announce the establishment of Bab Alshams Village (Gate of the Sun). We the people, without permits from the occupation, without permission from anyone, sit here today because this is our land and it is our right to inhabit it.

A few months ago the Israeli government announced its intention to build about 4000 settlement housing units in the area Israel refers to as E1. E1 block is an area of about 13 square km that falls on confiscated Palestinian land East of Jerusalem between Ma’ale Adumim settlement, which lies on occupied West Bank Palestinian land, and Jerusalem. We will not remain silent as settlement expansion and confiscation of our land continues. Therefore we hereby establish the village of Bab Alshams to proclaim our faith in direct action and popular resistance. We declare that the village will stand steadfast until the owners of this land will get their right to build on their land.

Continue reading Israeli repression at The Gate of the Sun

“Being South African, it felt like walking into another apartheid ambush”

The 3 Wise Men blocked by Israels Apartheid Wall

The Three Wise Men blocked by Israel’s Apartheid Wall

A delegation of South African Christian Church leaders has just returned from a one-week solidarity visit to the holy cities of Bethlehem and Jerusalem in Palestine-Israel. On their return, they released this joint statement [extracts]:

“Being South African, it felt like walking into another apartheid ambush. We witnessed violations of international law on so many levels – the multiple Israeli house demolitions, the discriminatory Israeli legal system, the daily intimidation of Palestinians by the Israeli Defence Forces, the Israeli Apartheid Wall and its associated regime of restrictions on movement and access for Palestinians, the imprisonment of a large percentage of Palestinians (including children), the ongoing confiscation of Palestinian water and land, the closure of previously bustling Palestinian streets and businesses, separate pavements for Israelis and Palestinians…”

Continue reading “Being South African, it felt like walking into another apartheid ambush”

Sex, Lies and God’s Promise: Response to a Diatribe

An article titled “In Defence Of Israel” is being circulated to media-persons in India by the Spokesman of the Embassy Of Israel in Delhi. This article, published in Open magazine, was written by Jonas Moses Lustiger (a student based in Paris, who has earlier lived in India).  The article names me specifically, and refers to mine and Aditya  Nigam’s posts on Palestine in Kafila, but I was not interested in engaging with Lustiger’s largely ill-informed, propagandist and misrepresenting rant. But now that it appears we are responding directly to the Israeli state, I feel perhaps I should put some things on record.

(Our three posts on Kafila are Nakba and Sumoud, Living the Occupation and Imagining Post-Zionist Futures)

 Let me begin by stating my complete agreement with Lustiger on three of his key statements in the Open article.

First:

It is true that Israel’s current government is one of the worst it has known and most of its citizens have lost hope for peace. It is also true that Israeli society is turning more racist, intolerant and ignorant of the suffering and existence of their immediate neighbours—Palestinians. Of course, the Palestinian people have been denied many rights and have been living under precarious conditions since Israel’s 1967 occupation of the West Bank and Gaza. True, they have been repeat victims of unjustifiable violence and a large proportion of Israeli politicians deny their claim to an independent land, even as Israel threatens the viability of a Palestinian state by wielding tools of colonisation. 

Pretty much sums up our three posts on Kafila – what’s not to agree?

Second:  Continue reading Sex, Lies and God’s Promise: Response to a Diatribe

Amitabh Bachchan in Gaza

T shirt from shop in Ramallah. The Arabic text reads, “My life is an Indian film”. Photo by Sunaina Maira.

Radhika Sainath writes:

Palestinians in Gaza love Indians. They love Indian dancing, they love Indian music, they love Indian clothes. Whenever I walk out of the house, someone inevitably asks “hiyya hindeyee?” Is she Indian? ”I knew it!” they say when the response is in the affirmative. “Bheb al Hind,” I love India….

So Amitabh, Abhishek, Aishwarya, Amir, Hrithik, Kareena, Salman, Shahrukh, if you’re reading this, how about a shout out to 1.5 million of your biggest fans in the Gaza Strip? Israel has forbidden pasta, tea, cement and freedom flotillas from entering Gaza, but it hasn’t stopped Bollywood. We watch you under the Israeli drones and the F-16s, after being shot at by the Israeli navy and army while fishing, picking olives or going to school. You bring a sliver of joy to people living under the world’s longest occupation in the world’s largest prison, and for that we thank you.

Read the rest of this post by Radhika Sainath at Notes from Behind the Blockade Life: politics and nonviolent resistance inside the Gaza Strip.

We are fine in Gaza. How about you?

Palestinians carry the bodies of members of the al-Dalo family during their funeral in Gaza City. Reuters

Listen to the Palestinian singer and writer—Khaled El-Hibr sing these words on Jadaliyya:

We are fine in Gaza

How about you?

We are fine under attack

How about you?

Our martyrs are under the rubbles

Our children now living in the tents

And they ask about you

We are fine in Gaza

How about you?