[Dublin] An evening with GHADA KARMI to launch her new memoir ‘Return’ (IPSC & AFP)

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On Thursday September 8th 2016 you are invited to spend an unforgettable evening with acclaimed Palestinian author, academic and activist Ghada Karmi as she launches her latest book, ‘Return: A Palestinian Memoir‘ (Verso, 2016).

The event, jointly hosted by the Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign and Academics for Palestine, will take place in the Ballroom in Wynn’s Hotel, 39 Abbey Street Lower, Dublin 1 at 7pm. Entry is free.

Ghada Karmi will be in conversation with well-known academic and journalist Harry Browne, and there will be time for questions from the audience.

PLEASE JOIN & SHARE THE EVENT ON FACEBOOK HERE.

Copies of the book will be available for purchase on the evening and the author will be pleased to sign them.

About the Book

An extraordinary memoir of exile and the impossibility of finding home, from the author of ‘In Search of Fatima‘ (Verso, 2002) and ‘Married to Another Man: Israel’s Dilemma in Palestine‘ (Pluto, 2007)

“The journey filled me with bitterness and grief. I remember looking down on a nighttime Tel Aviv from the windows of a place taking me back to London and thinking hopelessly, ‘flotsam and jetsam, that’s what we’ve become, scattered and divided. There’s no room for us or our memories here. And it won’t be reversed.’”

Having grown up in Britain following her family’s exile from Palestine, doctor, author and academic Ghada Karmi leaves her adoptive home in a quest to return to her homeland. She starts work with the Palestinian Authority and gets a firsthand understanding of its bizarre bureaucracy under Israel’s occupation.

In her quest, she takes the reader on a fascinating journey into the heart of one of the world’s most intractable conflict zones and one of the major issues of our time. Visiting places she has not seen since childhood, her unique insights reveal a militarised and barely recognisable homeland, and her home in Jerusalem, like much of the West Bank, occupied by strangers. Her encounters with politicians, fellow Palestinians, and Israeli soldiers cause her to question what role exiles like her have in the future of their country and whether return is truly possible.

Praise for the Book

“Not just life writing but writing that is alive. With perfectly attuned fidelity to the experiences it narrates, it offers a deeply engaged and engaging meditation on what it means to stay together as a people. Revolving this question in ways both existentially Palestinian and universally human, it is a literary memoir to be placed alongside those of Mourid Barghouti and Mahmoud Darwish.” – Caroline Rooney, Professor of African and Middle Eastern Studies, University of Kent

“’In Search of Fatima’ was a beautifully written and moving narrative… Return is both a sequel and a stand-alone memoir.” – Avi Shlaim, The Guardian

“Personal, warm and accessible, Return describes a life trajectory that captures the story of modern Palestine in a most unique and sensitive way. Beautifully written, it brings to the fore the human being behind the colonized, occupied and fragmented realities of present-day Israel and Palestine. It is an individual journey into the heart of the occupation’s darkness, where people, and not abstract ideas, are struggling with the impossibility of leading a normal life, or any life at all.” – Ilan Pappe, author of The Idea of Israel

“Eloquent and moving.” – David Shulman, New York Review of Books

Organised by the Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign and Academics for Palestine.

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Hundreds of academics call for boycott of genocide conference in Israel

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In a letter to the International Network of Genocide Scholars (INoGS), 270 academics from 19 countries have called for the cancellation of the 5th Global Conference on Genocide taking place on 26-29 June at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

The letter sent to the organizers of the conference on the 3rd of May points at the hypocrisy of having the conference in Israel at a time when Israel’s actions are “increasingly being viewed through lenses of ethnic cleansing and genocide linked to settler colonialism”. The signatories call on scholars and professionals to boycott the conference should it go ahead.

John Dugard, former UN Rapporteur for Human Rights in the OPT and a signatory to the letter, commented: “There are serious allegations that Israel committed crimes against humanity in its 2014 assault on Gaza. In these circumstances it is highly inappropriate to hold a conference on genocide in Israel.”

Citing Israel’s treatment of Palestinians, the letter expresses shock “that INoGS plans to hold its 2016 Global Conference at the Mt. Scopus campus of the Hebrew University that is partially built on stolen Palestinian land in occupied East Jerusalem”. The INoGS conference website bills Jerusalem as part of Israel, defying international consensus on the issue and ignoring Israel’s ongoing and systematic campaign of displacement of Palestinians from the city.

According to Professor John Docker, who has written extensively in the fields of genocide and massacre studies, “Genocide studies is now, it seems clear, actively seeking opportunities to be complicit in Israel’s flouting of international law, not least the Fourth Geneva Convention.”

INoGS did not respond to the joint letter and it had ignored an earlier appeal by the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI).

Dr. Haidar Eid, a member of PACBI, said: “I am an academic living in besieged Gaza. I have witnessed three massacres committed by Israel, I almost lost my own life and saw my comrades, colleagues, relatives, and students perish in them.  I have read with agony the names of 44 of our students and colleagues who lost their lives and 66 families wiped out by Israeli weapons. INoGS is lending its name to the perpetrators of these crimes in a move that is not unlike holding a conference on racism in apartheid South Africa.”

The conference is sponsored by five Israeli academic institutions, including the Hebrew University, which have been deeply complicit in Israel’s decades-long oppression of Palestinians. Thousands of academics in the UK, Ireland, Italy, South Africa, US and Brazil have signed national pledges to boycott Israeli academic institutions. The pledges are part of a growing movement to hold Israeli universities accountable to their role in systematic Israeli state violence against the Palestinian people.

David Lloyd Lecture: Conditions for Palestinian Scholars in Israel and the West Bank – A Report-Back

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Academics for Palestine in association with the Irish School of Ecumenics, TCD

Invite you to a lecture by

 Professor David Lloyd

(University of California Riverside)

Conditions for Palestinian Scholars in Israel and the West Bank – A Report-Back

Tuesday 28 June 2016, 7-9 pm
Irish School of Ecumenics, Trinity College Dublin

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David Lloyd, Distinguished Professor of English at UC Riverside, is one of the most influential and innovative Irish literary and cultural critics today.  His discipline-shaping books include Anomalous States: Irish Writing and the Postcolonial Moment (1993), Culture and the State (1997), and Irish Culture and Colonial Modernity: The Transformation of Oral Space (2011).

David Lloyd’s is one of the most powerful US voices on the question of Palestine and the value of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Campaign.  In 2009 he was a founding member of the US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott, and campaigned within the Modern Language Association for passing a motion endorsing the 2005 call for boycott by Palestinian civil society organisations which started the boycott movement. He has spoken in the US and Palestine in support of the boycott and his numerous articles on Palestine and Israel include “Settler Colonialism and the State of Exception: The Example of Israel/Palestine”, “It Is Our Belief That Palestine is a Feminist Issue…”  ; and, with Malini Johar Schueller, an essay on the rationale for the academic boycott of Israel in the  Journal of Academic Freedom.

‘Criticising Israel is not the same as being anti-Jewish’ – Op-ed by AFP members in the Irish Times

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Academics for Palestine members Ronit Lentin and David Landy wrote an opinion piece that was published in the Irish Times on Monday 2nd May.

Criticising Israel is not the same as being anti-Jewish

Opposition to Israel must not be confused with the evil hatred of Jewish people

The recent calls to expel former London mayor Ken Livingstone from the British Labour Party have created a worrying alliance between those who use accusations of anti-Semitism to silence critics of Israel and those who use them to attack supporters of the Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn. The calls for his expulsion came after Livingstone said in a BBC interview that Hitler had supported Zionism “before he went mad and ended up killing six million Jews”. The claim itself was clumsy but based on historical fact – Hitler originally sought to expel rather than exterminate European Jews. As part of this, he negotiated the Haavara Agreement with Zionist organisations which allowed some Jews to escape to Palestine with some of their property in return for Zionist opposition to the global boycott of German goods. This was hardly “support for Zionism”, but Livingstone’s critics went further with fellow Labour MPs accusing him of anti-Semitism.

In response, Livingstone cautioned against “confusing criticism of the Israeli government policy with anti-Semitism”, and defended Corbyn, who had been accused of not taking firm enough action against anti-Semitism in the party, which, he said, was part of a smear campaign against the party leader.

Europeans need to face their history of anti-Semitism that culminated in the Nazi Holocaust. Ireland has its own part in that history, the Irish government only admitted 60 Jewish refugees fleeing Nazi persecution between 1933 and 1946. Anti-Semitic sentiments continue – this was clear during the attack on the Hyper Casher supermarket in Paris after the Charlie Hebdo murders.

Israel vs Jews

However, supporters of Israel have sought to widen the definition of anti-Semitism to include those who call themselves anti-Zionist and most recently, those who support the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. In this, they use an obsolete formulation from the European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia (EUMC) which includes as a possible sign of anti-Semitism: “denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, eg, by claiming that the existence of a state of Israel is a racist endeavour”. The EUMC has since abandoned this wording as it was being used to launch attacks on critics of Israel, rather than to tackle real anti-Semitism.

Such efforts to equate anti-Semitism with anti-Zionism follow the state of Israel in conflating Jews with Zionists, even though not all Jews are Zionists or Israel supporters. Growing numbers of Jewish people in and outside Israel – international groups such as Jewish Voice for Peace and the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network, as well as Israeli groups such as Boycott from Within – oppose Israeli policies, do not define themselves as Zionists and support the BDS movement. The growing accusations of anti-Semitism against critics of Israel are aimed primarily at discrediting the successful BDS movement.

Israel has announced a $26 million investment in an anti-BDS campaign. Accusing its non-Jewish critics of anti-Semitism and its Jewish critics of being “self-hating Jews” is a central element of this campaign.

Accusations as weapons

Returning to the Labour Party, the Jewish Socialist Group has attacked the “weaponising” of accusations of anti-Semitism by forces intent on undermining the leadership of Corbyn. Likewise the group Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods worries that “the pro-Zionist lobby – Jewish and non-Jewish – deliberately and maliciously seeks to associate Jew-hatred with criticism of Israel in the public mind”, despite the insistence by Corbyn’s team that “anti-Semitism is a vile prejudice that is not permitted in the Labour Party” and its pledge to expel anyone found guilty of it.

The expulsions have taken on the character of a witch hunt. For instance, Jewish activist Tony Greenstein who has long campaigned against anti-Semitism in Palestine solidarity circles, has been accused of anti-Semitism and suspended from the Labour Party. The collection of scalps has emboldened supporters of Israel with the Britain Israel Communications and Research Centre seeking to whip up animosity and tweeting followers to “save your pitch fork for Corbyn”.

Such cynical political acts cheapen the grave charge of anti-Semitism. In this atmosphere where such allegations are used to silence political opponents, it is tempting to reject any and all accusations of anti-Semitism. This too must be guarded against – anti-Semitism needs to be tackled wherever it exists. In this battle, there is an urgent need to resist conflating opposition to Israel with anti-Jewish racism.

David Landy is an assistant professor of sociology and Ronit Lentin is a retired associate professor of sociology at Trinity College Dublin

Stop Censorship of BDS on Italian Campuses – A letter of solidarity from AFP

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As members of Academics for Palestine in Ireland, we are writing to express our concerns about recent events on Italian university campuses regarding the BDS and PACBI campaigns. We have learnt that after the launch of the “Stop Technion” campaign, which demands revoking research collaborations between Italian universities and the Israeli research centre Technion on the basis of the latter’s complicity with the Israeli war industry,[1] attempts to debate the campaign on university campuses have been censored by university Deans. We understand that current discussions of the Academic Boycott of Israeli Universities have been highly securitised, with university authorities preventing debates taking place.

Regrettably, this is not new. Italian university Deans have been acting as censors on several occasions. Last year in Rome a conference hosting the Israeli historian Prof Ilan Pappe was cancelled after political pressure on the Dean of the “Roma Tre” university, as widely reported,[2] leading to the Dean’s decision not to allow the conference organisers to use university premises. This adds to a broader hostile environment, which goes well beyond university campuses. Recently, in Trieste, the city council withdrew the sponsorship of a conference on Palestine after the Israeli Ambassador Naor Gilon put pressure on the Mayor, as reported in the national press.[3]

Similar events have taken place since the beginning of 2016. As part of the international “Israeli Apartheid Week” campaign that draws attention to the occupation through seminars, talks, and film screenings, an event at the University of Cagliari was cancelled in late February,[4] and a debate on the “Stop Technion” campaign was cancelled at the University of Turin.[5] In both cases, the Deans decided to deny permission to the organisers to use university facilities, thus preventing the two debates from taking place. At the university of Rome “La Sapienza” IAW-related initiatives were targeted by the Israeli Embassy. According to media reports,[6] the Israeli Ambassador was in consultation with the Dean’s closest collaborators and the Dean, Prof Eugenio Gaudio, stated that the signatories of the ‘Stop Technion’ campaign should be punished.[7] At the University of Catania, where the annual congress of the Italian Society for Middle Eastern Studies is due to take place in mid-March 2016, a panel on the implications of academic and cultural boycott campaigns against Israel, meant to take place during the conference,[8] seems in danger, as there is no sign of it in the official conference programme.[9]

Academics for Palestine Ireland is deeply concerned by the actions taken by Italian universities and expresses solidarity with the signatories of the “Stop Technion” appeal and the censored conference organisers. As signatories of the PACBI campaign, we are fully aware of the controversial nature of the issue and we urge the Italian university authorities to:

  • Reverse the cancellations
  • Allow the debates and conferences to take place on university campuses
  • Stop political interference and allow the universities to remain spaces of free academic debate.

[1] https://stoptechnionitalia.wordpress.com/the-call/

[2] http://linkcoordinamentouniversitario.it/annullato-a-roma-tre-l-evento-con-ilan-pappe-pretendiamo-spiegazioni/, http://www.bocchescucite.org/ilan-pappe-a-roma-incontro-in-altra-sede-dopo-il-no-delluniversita/, http://newsgo.it/2015/02/roma-tre-revocato-il-convegno-con-ilan-pappe-su-europa-e-medio-oriente/, http://ricerca.repubblica.it/repubblica/archivio/repubblica/2015/02/14/storico-pro-palestina-invitato-al-convegno-roma-tre-annulla-levento-e-polemicaRoma13.html

[3] http://www.ilfattoquotidiano.it/2015/12/29/trieste-ambasciatore-israele-scrive-a-sindaco-via-patrocinio-dal-convegno-su-palestina-e-il-comune-lo-toglie/2338753/. Also reported here: http://bdsitalia.org/index.php/la-campagna-bds/ultime-notizie-bds/1926-trieste-lettera-ambasciatore

[4] http://www.sardegnaoggi.it/Cronaca/2016-02-24/31661/A_Cagliari_lIsraeli_Apartheid_Week_ma_lUniversita_nega_i_locali.html

[5] http://www.lastampa.it/2016/03/01/cronaca/caso-technion-niente-assemblea-luniversit-nega-laula-3jxtKebyfmdGJwrd0c29qJ/pagina.html

[6] http://moked.it/blog/2016/03/02/odio-anti-israeliano-in-aula-lultima-parola-al-rettore/

[7] http://www.osservatorioantisemitismo.it/articoli/il-rettore-delluniversita-la-sapienza-a-favore-del-boicottaggio-del-bds/

[8] http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2016/01/italian-scholars-boycott-israeli-academic-institutions-160129100916262.html

[9] http://www.sesamoitalia.it/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/Panels-timetable-aggiornata.pdf

 

Education Under Occupation: Reflections from Al Quds University – talk by Dr Brendan Browne

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Academics for Palestine invites you to a lecture on education under occupation, the case of the Palestinian Al Quds University, by Dr Brendan Browne of the Irish School of Ecumenics, Trinity College Dublin.

PLEASE JOIN AND SHARE THE EVENT ON FACEBOOK

Precariously located in the Jerusalem suburb of Abu Dis, Al Quds University is the only Palestinian university in occupied East Jerusalem. Continuing to battle against the odds, a hybrid mix of local and international academic staff provide third level education to Palestinian students from within Jerusalem and across the West Bank, as well as international students.

Reflecting upon experiences gained during a recent period of employment at the university, Dr Browne provides insight into life on campus, with a focus on the daily challenges staff and students experience in trying to safeguard their right to education. The talk examines the deleterious impact of the ongoing Israeli occupation on students, whilst also highlighting the strength and resilience of staff and students. With particular focus on the impact of the recent escalation of Israeli/Palestinian hostilities, Dr Browne highlights the disruption to the university as a result and the need for a flexible pedagogical approach to reflect the challenging circumstances.

 

Date: 9 March 2016

Time: 7.30pm – 9.00pm

Venue: Johnathan Swift Theatre, Arts Building, TCD

All welcome.

BDS, anti-semitism and misogyny: A response to Naomi Gaertz

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By Ronit Lentin, Academics for Palestine

In the wake of the National Women’s Studies Association’s decision to boycott Israel, several members who support Zionism and oppose BDS have called on the NSWA to retract and oppose BDS. Relying on a 1982 article by Letty Pogrebin in Ms Magazine on antisemitism in the women’s movement and a 2010 blog by Phyllis Chesler on the links between antisemitism and misogyny, Biblical scholar Naomi Graetz of Ben Gurion University, writing on the WMST listserv, compared the BDS movement on the left and the anti-woman movement on the right, arguing that, as ‘the one is anti-Semitic in the guise of being anti-Israel and the other is simply misogynist’, the link between the two ‘would turn the clock back on women’s gains’. Graetz writes that BDS stifles free speech on campus and is ‘reminiscent of the Stalinist era’ and should thus have ‘no place in western academia’. Simplistic comparisons with Stalinism aside, Graetz equates misogyny and antisemitism as signalling ‘the male fear of losing power’. At the same time she totally disregards the fact that the academic freedom she upholds is accorded exclusively to Jewish Israeli academics while Palestinian academics and students, including feminist ones, are deprived of such freedom as West Bank universities are regularly closed by the Israeli military authorities and their freedom of movement to and from classes is curtailed due to the checkpoint and separation wall regime, while academics and students in Gaza, like other Gazans, are subject to Israel’s ongoing siege and are hardly enjoying any academic freedom.

My argument is that proposing that boycotting Israel – a racial settler colony enjoying international impunity despite its ongoing criminal behaviour towards occupied and besieged Palestinian subjects as well as its own Palestinian citizens, complete with a whole array of state crimes from house demolitions, extra judicial executions, administrative detentions to the detention and torture of children – is antisemitic is absurd; moreover, arguing that BDS as antisemitism parallels misogyny is a gross exaggeration. Graetz’s simplistic argument ignores Judaism’s own inherent misogyny, as argued by many Jewish feminist theologians. It also wrongly equates ‘male power’ with a criticism of Israel’s war crimes rather than with those very war crimes, even though Israel is patently both misogynist and criminal as evidenced by its racist treatment of its Palestinian subjects and citizens alike.

In the introduction to their edited conversation on ‘The boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement and justice in/for Palestine’ as part of the International Feminist Journal of Politics’ special issue on ‘Transnational Feminist Solidarity in Times of Crisis’ (IFJP, 2015), Simona Sharoni and Rabab Abdulhadi note the reluctance by many feminists in the Global North to understand ‘why Palestinian women insist on linking their struggles for gender equality to national liberation’. This reluctance has put Palestinian women on the receiving end of misguided initiatives that negate their agency and needs. Such initiatives obscure the root causes of the crisis in Palestine, namely Zionist settler colonialism and the ethnic cleansing of Palestine, the 1967 occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, the violation of Palestinian rights and the Apartheid-like racial regime governing the Palestinian people. Since the early 1970s, feminist conferences and gatherings have been debating these points and addressing gender specific issues such as the treatment Palestinian women prisoners, maternal and child mortality caused by the checkpoint and Apartheid wall regime, and the infringement of the rights of Palestinian women whose homes are regularly invaded by the occupying Israeli military, as discussed by several feminist Palestinian scholars including Rabab Abdulhadi, Nadera Shalhoub Kevorkian, Honaida Ghanim, to mention but a few).

Even though transnational feminist responses have had limited success in reversing Israeli gendered governmentalities, Sharoni and Abdulhadi suggest that one of the promising signs of an emerging transnational feminist solidarity with Palestine is the international feminist response to Palestinian civil society’s BDS call culminating in the 2014 endorsement of BDS by the National Women’s Studies Association following the latest Israeli assault of Gaza that left over 2,000 civilians casualties, of whom 253 women and some 500 children, all unarmed.

I argue that Israel’s war on the Palestinians makes Palestinian women racialized ‘femina sacras’ – the female version of the Italian political philosopher Giorgio Agamben’s ‘homo sacer’, or ‘bare life’ – she who can be killed with impunity while also being excluded from the legal remit of the nation and the sanctity of Jewish femininity, seen as the venerated carrier of the (Jewish-Israeli) nation’s future generations. Zionist discourse positions Palestinian women – gendered subjects whose domestic privacy is routinely infringed by Israeli military raids, whose children are regularly arrested and tortured, and whose sexuality is abused,and not only while in detention – as the symbol of the enemy nation, ‘snakes’ who have to be killed together with their children, according to the (female) Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked. At the same time, Israeli misogyny targets Jewish women as well in a society where sexual harassment and rape culture are ripe in military and civil life.

Israel’s ongoing war against the Palestinians includes the imprisonment of many women activists ever since the first Intifada, the sexual torture of women political prisoners (see Women’s Organisation for Political Prisoners) and the use of rape as a weapon of war. While Palestinian women are routinely victimised in gender specific ways, Israeli feminists writing about Palestinian women often focus on Palestinian patriarchy as the main source of their oppression, giving little attention to Palestinian women’s resilience and resistance. By contrast, Palestinian feminist scholars have documented the everyday resistance strategies employed by Palestinian women, from participating in weekly protests against the Apartheid wall to going to sleep in their clothes in preparation for IDF night raids.

Jewish and Israeli supporters of BDS are often dubbed ‘self-hating Jews’, the corollary of non-Jewish BDS supporters, who are dismissed by Zionist apologists as antisemitic. I am a Jewish Israeli (and Irish) citizen and would certainly not define myself as self-hating. Indeed, I have been an anti-Zionist ever since the 1967 war and am equally committed to opposing all forms of racism, antisemitism and Islamophobia. Moreover, I am entirely comfortable working with Academics for Palestine and with the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign, both groups explicitly opposed to any display of antisemitism. However, I do not act in solidarity with Palestine and support BDS merely ‘as a Jew’, and refuse to homogenise all Jewish people as foregone supporters of Zionism’s worst crimes. Rather, I support BDS at the request of Palestinian civil society inter alia as a feminist whose solidarity with the oppressed and opposition to my own people’s crimes are part and parcel of my commitment to justice. I contend that the focus by many Zionist feminists on Palestinian patriarchy rather than on Israeli settler colonialism and on the occupation amounts to feminist misogyny that jettisons feminist solidarity in favour of narrow nationalism.