Till Palestine

The Palestinian Mohammad Assaf wins the Arab Idol content. Details »

Revealing Histories Long Erased And Denigrated: Photographer Aaron Vincent Elkaim’s Attempt To Find Old Truths

Aaron Vincent Elkaim’s project on Morocco’s Jewish heritage immediately caught my attention not because of the photographs, but because of words that underpin the ideas and ideals of the project. These words immediately suggested a photographer of considerable intelligence and courage, and willing to accept and understand histories that today lie buried under propaganda, lies and sheer hypocrisy.

From The Series 'Jewish Morocco' By Aaron Vincent Elkaim

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Obama Is A Muslim, God Gave Us The Land, There Is A New Holocaust, Palestinians Should Convert To Judaism, The Bible Is A Land Contract

Thanks to the ‘self-hating asshole’ (as one protestor calls him) Max Blumenthal from from Feeling The Hate In New York

And in opposition, an unarmed people continue to resist with nothing but their voices, their bodies and their courage. Even the otherwise reluctant Christian Science Moniter had to confront this reality in a piece by Josh Mitnick called Borrowing From Gandhi? Palestinian Passive Resistance Gains Followers, where of course the writer refused to acknowledge that it has been predominantly non-violent resistance that the Palestinians have been engaged in for decades, and that the activities are Bilin are not the anomaly, which is what this piece makes it sound, or a revolution, but the result of a people, unarmed and abandoned, who have been engaged in such actions out of desperation. I quote from the piece:

“It’s not a war between two armies. By using non-violence, we take away the security excuse from the Israelis,” says Mohammed Khatib, a Bilin businessman active in the local popular committee organizing the weekly non-violent protest. “It shows the power of the Palestinian people, which is the right to live in this land.”

And it has always been so; not a war, but an unarmed civilian population brutally occupied by a racist and xenophobic nationalism that uses its sense of being ‘chosen’ to deny others their rights, humanity and justice. The hideousness of religious faith that contorts itself into racism, hatred and a purely venal interpretation of scriptures to justify murder and pillage is perhaps what dismays me most about Abrahamic monotheisms. The sufferings inflicted on man because of that thread of humanity that claims to have emerged from this seed is truly unbelievable to face and can perhaps remain as the one real argument against the Abrahamic idea of God – it just can’t be his/her manuscript if it can be so easily bloodied!

Choose yours sides. Its about to become clearer than it has ever been before. Israel’s reality, a reality that has for decades been veiled behind euphemisms and outright lies (‘the middle east’s only democracy’, ‘peace loving’, etc. etc.) is thankfully now coming out in full light. It is about to get even uglier as the nation completely looses its mooring, trips over itself in these days of increasingly moral isolation, and lashes out more and more violently against a Palestinian generation (young and old) that is finding its voice, articulating its arguments, and refusing to bend to the jack boots of the occupiers.

On a side not, the Christian Science monitor article carried a small slide show of images, and this one caught my eye:

In Yeruham, 9 foot-high concrete blocks sit at a concrete factory in March. The blocks will be used in the construction of Israel’s separation barrier. Photo by Oded Balilty/AP/FILE

And it looked very family, very similar to something I had seen earlier. And then it came to me…..

Berlin Holocaust Museum. Photo By Paolo Pellegrin/Magnum

All these memorials to a self-righteous, exclusive morality and sense of outrage. The lessons of the holocaust are not to be universally understood, but cheaply exploited to browbeat those who speak out against the policies of Israel and her treatment of the hapless Palestinians. A genuinely European hypocrisy indeed, mired deep in the trenches of her ‘Enlightenment’ thinking.

As for example, Renan a man frequently celebrated as representing the ‘progressive’ spirit of Europe, and who could still in fact hold ideas such as:

The regeneration of the inferior or degenerate races by the superior races is part of the providential order of things for humanity…Regere imperio populos, that is our vocation. Pour forth this all-consuming activity onto countries which, like China, are crying aloud for foreign conquest. Turn the adventurers who disturb European society into a ver sacrum, a horde like those of the Franks, the Lombards, or the Normans, and every man will be in his right role. Nature has made a race of workers, the Chinese race, who have wonderful manual dexterity and almost no sense of honor; govern them with justice, levying from them, in return for the blessing of such a government, an ample allowance for the conquering race, and they will be satisfied; a race of tillers of the soil, the Negro; treat him with kindness and humanity, and all will be as it should; a race of masters and soldiers, the European race…Let each do what he is made for, and all will be well.

Aime Cesaire, Discourse on Colonialism, page 16 (emphasis are Cesaire’s)

I think back to Fanon’s call to stop looking for this Europe that speaks repeatedly of humanity, and yet inflicts such horrors upon it. On the streets of Manhattan, in the neighborhoods of Brooklyn, and in the land that was once imagined as a new homeland for a persecuted people with justice and rights for all, we are witnessing the complete and absolute degradation and desecration of all that our modern world holds as moral and human. And it ties it threads to European colonial attitudes, prejudices and arrogance.

The Palestinians will prevail. There is no other place for this to end.

We only then have to remember that anything that takes billions of dollars of aid, millions of dollars spent on propaganda, thousands of soldiers, and tanks, and F-16s and miles of concrete walls and tens of thousands of voices to scream and shout at others, can’t be very strong.

I know for a fact that these demonstrations in New York repulse and dismay many, including the Jews. Israel is destroying not only itself, but the dream of the very nation that it could once have been. Her people have ignored her finest voices, from Yeshayahu Leibowitz to Deutscher, or Judt to Pappe who repeatedly warned her of the consequences of her policies and greed.

Deaf ears.

The Goldstone Report Facts Page Breaks It Down

Losing Our Moral Compass Or When Genocide Becomes A Necessity And Can Be Explained

We have often wondered what led so many Germans to just sat by or appeared to ‘collaborate’ during the Jewish genocide, or the Rwandans to engage in mass slaughter of each other, or the Serbians to look away as Sarajevo burned, or the Pakistanis to celebrate the slaughter of the Bengali. And many more such situations that leave so many ‘civilized’ and ‘decent’ people asking themselves that old question: how can a people do this to another? Details »

Who Was That Strange Man I Met In Gaza And Why Was He Drawing Cartoons As People Died?

It is a world that I have lost touch with, but while I was in it, however marginally, it was filled with an incredible array of intelligent, passionate, engaged and generous people. Post-war Sarajevo bought me in touch with writer Stacy Sullivan, photographer Paul Lowe, photographer and editor Leslie Fratkin and last and definitely not the least, the graphic artist Joe Sacco. Details »

Voices Of Dissent In Times Of Consent: Anna Baltzar, Omar Barghouti And The Struggle For Justice

This is an American voice, and perhaps much needed. We are at a crucial turning point in the world opinion and understanding of the situation a.k.a. the occupation of West Bank and Gaza, and voices of people like Anna Baltzer are an essential complement to the decades of civic, intellectual, social and yes, occasionally, violent resistance and struggle by the Palestinians trapped inside Israel’s dreams and fantasies. Details »

Our Unbreakable Bond With…Er…Some Israelis

In response to an earlier post I received some comments that claimed, in an ironic mimicry of an idiotic argument often used by the Israeli government, that ‘there was no one to talk to’ in Israel, I am putting up this post to help us find ‘people to talk to’ in Israel.

So here are some suggestions for organizations we would do well to join, support, participate with, talk to and stand alongside.

I am little tired of the simplistic and dismissive ideas about Israel that seem to pervade conversations many young people from backgrounds Muslim. We have allowed our anger at the wrongs committed against the Palestinians to reduce us to ignorance and mindless invective.  I have said it before and I will say it again; we do not know Israel and the decades of ignorance of  its society, politics, history, culture, conflicts, strains and possibilities weakens our goals and our cause for the search for justice for the Palestinians.

Another place to begin would be to read those who know her, and write about her from within. Journalists like Jonathan Cook have been covering Israel’s politics and society for years. His books (Disappearing Palestine, Israel & The Clash of Civilizations and Blood & Religion) and articles reveal the complex political and societal workings of the country and help us understand her policies towards the Palestinians and the various agendas at work. His work helps us understand where to focus our resistance.

Ignorance, stupidity, and sheer thick headedness will not change anything, nor will it weaken the resolve of those we wish to confront and stop. There are individuals in Israel, yes, Jews, who are opposed to her policies and her terrorism against the Palestinians. These Jews, these Israelis, share with us our understanding of human life, morality and justice. So why not join them, stand alongside them, add our voices to theirs just as they will add their voices to ours?

The Definition of Courage: The Israelis Speak

The testimonies now being given by a number of Israeli soldiers who took part in the recent war on Gaza, a war that Richard Falk, the UN’s special rapporteur on human rights, called a criminal act, offer us a glimpse into acts of human and individual courage.

There is no other way to describe the actions of these young men who were involved in what was nothing short of an international war crime against the unarmed civilian population of Gaza.

The Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz has been publishing a series of testimonies – the paper’s Amos Harel’s has two pieces, IDF in Gaza: Killing civilians, vandalism, and lax rules of engagement and ‘Shooting and crying’. Details »

The Limits of Photojournalism And Things More Worthwhile

It is perhaps the most interesting, creative and compelling book of photography I have ever read. I have looked and read it over a dozen times in the last 8 years.  Edward Said & Jean Mohr’s ‘After The Last Sky: Palestinian Lives’ is perhaps the only example that I know of of a brilliant writer and a sensitive photographer collaborating to produce something remarkably insightful, intelligent and provocative at the same time. Details »