Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Speaking Truth To Power In Palestine

JERUSALEM - "A journalist should be a watchdog. A journalist should be critical of the establishment. A journalist should try to be the voice of the people, but in the Arab world, a journalist is taught first he must be loyal to the president, loyal to the state, loyal to the homeland. Maybe truth, but that is last.

"Yes, I still get threatened. I would be much more afraid to show my face in Ramallah if I was lying, but most of the threats I get these days are from North American campuses. Americans, Canadians, some self-hating Jews, university professors. This is what you get for refusing to go along with the narrative. You know. They show up wearing the kaffiyeh and shouting, and they just want to say Israel is bad, war crimes, apartheid, that is all. But that doesn' make you pro-Palestine. That doesn't make you pro-peace. Instead of organizing Israel Apartheid Week, they should be helping with human rights under Hamas, women's rights under Hamas. A free press. But people on North American university campuses are more radical than Hamas."

So said Kaled Abu Toameh last night over an after-dinner bottle of wine. Having long been a great admirer of his brave work it was grand to swap notes. There is a charming, bemused exasperation about Toameh. He's quick-witted, sharp-tongued, hilarious, and helpfully possessed of what George Orwell once called "a facility with words and a power of facing unpleasant facts." We need more of that sort of thing.

I'll be writing more about my conversations with Toameh in the coming days, and about the conversations I've been having with a variety of remarkable people in this beautiful, heartbreaking country. I'll be poring over my notes and trying to make sense of things, but one thing, so far, is painfully plain. While the contradictions between the postures of the so-called "Left" in the rich countries of the world and the aspirations of the oppressed peoples it claims to champion is a phenomenon I've written about mainly in the context of Afghanistan, precisely the same contradictions show up in the Israeli-Palestinian context. In spades. But then I would say that, wouldn't I? Being a lickspittle apologist for the Zionist-Imperialist Hegemony and all.

Meantime, read Toameh. Here's a primer:

1. During a recent visit to several university campuses in the U.S., I discovered that there is more sympathy for Hamas there than there is in Ramallah.

2.United States-led sanctions on the Gaza Strip have thus far played into the hands of Hamas, earning it more sympathy among radicalized and disillusioned Palestinians. Because of these mistakes, the Gaza Strip is now swarming with scores of Islamic fundamentalist groups who are leading the Palestinians toward the abyss.

3. What About The Arab Apartheid?

4. What About The Arab Apartheid? Part II.


Blogger dmurrell said...

The two "What about Arab Apartheid (parts I and II)" essays are identical.

All of his writings are compelling reading, though. His critique of the pro left-fascism movement on U.S campuses (and Canada, no doubt) is all too true.
-- David Murrell

1:26 AM  
Blogger Terry Glavin said...

Link fixed. Thanks, David.

9:20 AM  
Blogger Bernard von Schulmann said...

I was about to send you an email and meet up with you and Khaled, but then I noticed on the top that it is written in Jerusalem, so I guess you are not around here.

I will be paying attention for when Khaled is next on the west coast and try to hear him speak.

9:51 AM  
Blogger Bernard von Schulmann said...

Thought I would share some good news out of last night's UK election for Palestinians. George Galloway not only did not get re=elected, he came a distant third in Limehouse Poplar.

In Bethal Bow Green, where he was MP, the party came third as well, not even close.

One less grandstanding Hamas supporter with a pulpit.

8:10 AM  
Blogger Kurt Langmann said...

Galloway is now known as the "former MP." Good riddance.

1:40 PM  
Blogger Jonathon Narvey said...

Another great post. I could listen to Khaled talk all day long.

1:35 AM  
Blogger The Contentious Centrist said...

"Ali Kazak, a former ambassador for the Palestine Liberation Organisation, circulated an email this week accusing Abu Toameh of being an "Israeli propagandist" on the "Israeli payroll" and warning people not to be misled by him.

Kazak told The Australian: "Khaled Abu Toameh is a traitor." These are dangerous words in the context of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and Kazak admits that many Palestinians are murdered in the West Bank and Gaza for being traitors.

He says he doesn't agree with it but: "Traitors were also murdered by the French Resistance, in Europe; this happens everywhere." . . .

Toameh responds: "It is absurd that this gentleman is calling me a traitor while the PLO whom he claims to represent is conducting security co-ordination with Israel and helping Israel crack down on Hamas and is even imprisoning Palestinians without trial in the West Bank. . . .

". . . When he calls me a traitor he is actually sending a message to extremists that they need to kill me simply because I am demanding reform and democracy."

4:09 AM  

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