Tag Archives: Electronic Intifada

Hiatus

I’ve managed to lapse out of the habit of updating this site with my newest articles, but I’m going to get back into it now. You can also look back on the MEMO website for the last few months of my columns.

Over the summer I did two features for Al-Akhbar too, about the response to the war in the West.

And, as always, my stories for The Electronic Intifada are syndicated in the RSS feed you see on the right (or click here).

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My review of Shlomo Sand’s new book, “The Invention of the Land of Israel”

A fascinating read. Here is my opinion on it.

In 1897, the same year as the first Zionist congress, Israel Belkind (“the first practical Zionist”) drew a map: “ ‘The Jordan splits the Land of Israel in two different sections,’ asserted Belkind, whose assessment was subsequently adopted by most [Zionist] settlers of the period” (216).

For the future first prime minister of Israel David Ben Gurion, these borders “were too expansive and untenable, while the borders of the Talmudic commandment were too narrow.” In 1918 he gave his own take: “In the north — the Litani River, between Tyre and Sidon [in Lebanon] … In the east — the Syrian Desert. The eastern border of the Land of Israel should not be precisely demarcated … the Land’s eastern borders will be diverted eastwards, and the area of the Land of Israel will expand” (217).

Not for nothing were the borders of the new state unmentioned in its declaration of independence (233).

UPDATE: Someone has translated my review into French.

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Graphic details: how Visualizing Palestine designed a fight for justice

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I have a new interview with some of the brains behind the excellent Visualizing Palestine project, which was published yesterday. Check it out.

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How Israel’s supporters are attempting to shut down boycott debate in UK unions

The second article in my series about the Zionist legal campaign against the UCU for discussing academic boycott — and against the BDS movement in general. Extract:

Antony Julius had taken on Fraser’s case pro bono, he said in a phone call.

Julius defended the readiness of his case, and what he said was an “ironic” comment about his chaotic references: “look at the written submissions and the range of witnesses that were deployed to see how ludicrous it is to say we were not prepared.”

He denied the case was receiving any support from the Israeli government: “I’m sorry to disappoint your fantasy of a conspiracy, but no it isn’t … Why would you assume it’s being supported by the Israeli government? … The question itself can only come from a person who is in thrall to such a fantasy.”

But one of Julius’s own witnesses was boasting to the Israeli press earlier this year about just such a “fantasy.”

Part one is here, but both articles work independent of each other.

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Politics of Palestine’s everyday captured in stunning debut film

My new review of a this little gem of a film:

The film’s title comes from a poem by the late Mahmoud Darwish, “Mural”:

Two meters of this land are enough for now.
A meter and seventy-five centimeters are enough for me.
The rest is for a chaos of brilliant flowers to slowly soak up my body.

Darwish wrote here about what would happen to his body after his death. The final scene takes place at his grave, where two of the dancers have absconded, bored with all the waiting.

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UK lawsuit challenges college union’s right to boycott Israel

The first in my new series of articles looking into the Zionist legal campaign against the UCU for discussing academic boycott — and against the BDS movement in general. Part two likely to follow soon after Christmas. An extract:

The director of Academic Friends of Israel is suing his own union in an employment tribunal. Ronnie Fraser accuses the 120,000-member-strong University and College Union of “institutional anti-Semitism” after its congress passed motions calling for members to discuss the Palestinian call to boycott Israeli universities.

But according to one court document seen by The Electronic Intifada, Fraser follows a definition of anti-Semitism that seems to include any criticism of Israel. It says he considers “anti-Semitism” to include comments “targeting specifically the State of Israel which was conceived as a Jewish state.”

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UK dance troupe al-Zaytouna retell Shakespeare through dabke

Here is my new arts feature about al-Zaytouna dabke group. Their show is this weekend, don’t miss it!

One of Shakespeare’s more famous plays, Henry V is known for the famous speech in which the eponymous king urges on his warriors: “we happy few, we band of brothers.”

Try picturing it, then, re-imagined through the medium of dance theater, and amalgamated with the story of the Palestinian struggle against Israel. It sounds like an unlikely combination, but it’s exactly what UK dance troupe al-Zaytouna have set out to do with their innovative new production Unto the Breach, which debuts this month.

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My review of “5 Broken Cameras”

My review here:

Anyone visiting the demonstrations against Israel’s wall in the West Bank village of Bilin over the last six years will have likely seen Emad Burnat and his camera, filming everything — anytime he was not in prison or in the hospital, at least.

Five Broken Cameras is the product of years’ worth of Burnat’s footage from these demonstrations. Co-directed by Israeli filmmaker Guy Davidi, the film takes the viewer through five years of the life of the village as the popular resistance against the wall begins.

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My review of an interesting film on Palestine for beginners

And you can watch the entire film for free here, or on Sami’s website too. Extract from my review:

The boldly titled feature-length documentary How We Can Solve The Palestinian Israeli Problem (which can be viewed online) is the work of Sami Moukaddem, a multi-talented Lebanese psychologist and musician living in Ireland.

Early on, Moukaddem speaks to the camera and says he has no experience as a filmmaker, and that he just wanted to make a film to explain the basic issues: “I simply got tired of western mainstream media presenting the Palestinian-Israeli issue as being complex,” he says. He then narrates from a first-person perspective throughout.

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The strange tale of Paul Martin and the Palestinian collaborator

This tale grew in the telling (as a great storyteller once wrote). It grew and grew from a couple of paragraphs, to a blog post to this full-blow investigative feature the more we found out.

Many thanks to Maath Musleh and Dena Shunra who both uncovered key evidence. And the whole EI team, as always.

In a 2002 article about “a criminal gang” that supposedly “imposed a two-year reign of terror” Paul Martin interviewed Zohair Hamdan, describing him as the “founder of the Movement for Coexistence in Jerusalem” who was attacked by the gang (“Exiled Palestinian militants ran two-year reign of terror,” The Washington Times, 13 May 2002).

But a recent Israeli court document describes Hamdan as once claiming to have had a position “in the ministry of defense.” The Israeli media has described him as “a proud collaborator,” reported that he and his family are legally armed and noted accusations in his hometown that he works for the Shabak (Israel’s secret police, also known as Shin Bet).

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My review of Tony Lerman’s book

A great read and most interesting (and incidentally nice to see Pluto put out an affordable hardback edition). This positive review by me for EI will likely be grist to his enemies’ mill, but Tony doesn’t seem too worried about that any more. An extract:

What happens when a mainstream public figure within the Jewish community develops doubts about Israel and Zionism? Can the head of an important Jewish think tank who has come to reject his Zionist convictions sustain his position as a critical insider?

These questions are addressed in The Making and Unmaking of a Zionist, a new memoir by Antony Lerman.

Born to moderate orthodox parents in Golders Green (3), London, Lerman joined the Habonim labor Zionist youth movement in his teens. Along with its youth centers, Habonim owned a remote East Sussex farm known as the hachshara (“training”) where it prepared members for life in the kibbutzim, Israel’s collective agricultural colonies (31).

He eventually went on to become leader of the movement in the UK. Although after 1967 Habonim activists still saw themselves “as guardians of moderate and liberal socialist Zionism … the vast majority of us slipped so easily into a way of thinking that legitimized the occupation” of the West Bank, Gaza and the Syrian Golan Heights (34-5).

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My review of “The Palestine-Israel Conflict: A Basic Introduction”

Here’s my review for EI. The found the book to be something of a let down:

At the root of such problems is Harms’ fundamental approach, which he spells out in the preface: “I have sought to present the history of the conflict in a balanced and actual light” (xv). The aim of imposing the prism of “balance” on the fundamentally imbalanced situation of a settler movement’s ongoing colonization of an occupied land is doomed to failure. This lies at the heart of much of what is wrong with the book.

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