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”