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Robin Yassin-Kassab

Archive for the ‘Zionism’ Category

Hypocrisy, As Usual

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Omar al-Masharawi, son of a BBC cameraman in Gaza, murdered by Zionist bombs.

Israel has launched yet another attack against the Gaza Strip, striking the densely-populated and besieged territory from the air and the sea, and as usual the United States, Canada and Britain have lined up in support of Zionist terrorism.

Speaking from a system poisoned by the Israel lobby, State Department spokesman Mark Toner says: “There is no justification for the violence that Hamas and other terrorist organizations are employing against the people of Israel. We call on those responsible to stop these cowardly acts immediately. We support Israel’s right to defend itself.” Confusing Zionist settlers for ‘the Jewish people’, confusing perpetrator with victim, and then parroting outmoded ‘war on terror’ propaganda, Canadian foreign minister John Baird vomits the following: “Far too often, the Jewish people find themselves on the front lines in the struggle against terrorism, the great struggle of our generation.” Then Britain’s foreign minister William Hague makes the following immoral and illogical comment: “I utterly condemn rocket attacks from Gaza into southern Israel by Hamas and other armed groups. This creates an intolerable situation for Israeli civilians in southern Israel, who have the right to live without fear of attack from Gaza.”

Two things must be said. First, this round of escalation, like the 2008/2009 slaughter, was started by Israel. It is totally mendacious to pretend otherwise. The Hamas government in Gaza refrained from stopping other groups from firing missiles as a result of Israel’s murder of a disabled man and of a twelve-year-old boy in Gaza. Here is a timeline of events. Second, the settlers of southern Israel do not have the right to live without fear of attack while the original inhabitants of ‘southern Israel’ are herded into refugee camps. Eighty percent of people in Gaza are descendants of refugees ethnically cleansed from their villages and towns by Zionist militias in 1947 and 1948.

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Written by Robin Yassin-Kassab

November 15, 2012 at 2:16 pm

Posted in Palestine, Syria, Zionism

The Liberation of the Golan

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Today demonstrators marched against the Syrian regime in Majdal Shams on the occupied Golan Heights. (For believers in the sectarian narrative, most of the people here happen to be Druze, not Sunnis). One of their slogans was ash-sha‘ab yureed tahreer al-jowlan – The People Want the Liberation of the Golan. The Syrian regime, which has slaughtered over 6,000 civilians since the revolution started, hasn’t fired a bullet over the Golan since 1973. In the clip below Asad loyalists confront the protestors, but are outnumbered. The demonstrators shout almowt wala almuzuleh – Death Rather Than Humiliation – and illi yiqtil sha‘abu kha’in – He Who Kills his People is a Traitor.

It’s interesting to note that the Golan was occupied by Zionists in 1967, before most of the demonstrators were born, and illegally annexed in 1982. The very Syrian drama unfolding on these ‘Israeli’ streets proves – if proof were needed – the absurdity of Zionist hopes that Arab national identity on occupied territory will gradually evaporate.

Written by Robin Yassin-Kassab

December 23, 2011 at 7:30 pm

Posted in Syria, Zionism

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The Revolution Takes On Zionism

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A few days ago a well-planned resistance operation killed eight Israelis. Israel has no idea who carried out the operation, except that they were probably Arabs, so it has responded in its usual way – by randomly murdering Arabs. Fifteen have been killed so far in the Gaza ghetto, and six Egyptian soldiers were killed when Zionist forces violated Egypt’s sovereign border. Before the revolution there was no response to this kind of arrogant aggression. This time the Zionist government has been forced to apologise to Egypt. That’s not enough, of course, so the Egyptian people have taken matters into their own hands. In this film, the Zionist flag falls in Cairo. This was last night. The demonstration outside the Zionist embassy continues today. People are firing fireworks at the occupied building.

Written by Robin Yassin-Kassab

August 21, 2011 at 7:54 pm

Posted in Egypt, Zionism

Wrong Target for a Pretend Philosopher

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French Zionist and celebrity Islamophobe Bernard-Henri Levy recently accused Susan Abulhawa’s novel Mornings in Jenin of contributing to anti-Semitism. Levy picked the wrong target. Abulhawa has already proved herself more than a match for the ranting Alan Dershowitz. In the Huffington Post she responds to Levy’s anti-Semitism charge: “This word — with its profound gravity of marginalization, humiliation, dispossession, oppression, and ultimately, genocide of human beings for no other reason but their religion — is so irresponsibly used by the likes of Levy that it truly besmirches the memory of those who were murdered in death camps solely for being Jewish.” Then she reminds us that “the people who today are being marginalized, humiliated, dispossessed, and oppressed for the sole reason of their religion are Palestinian Christians and Muslims.

The entire, excellent rejoinder to Levy’s attempt at intimidation is over the fold. Meanwhile, if you haven’t yet bought a copy of Abulhawa’s wonderful novel, do so. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Robin Yassin-Kassab

December 26, 2010 at 6:17 pm

Posted in Zionism

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The Martyrdom of Shaden al-Saleh

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Vodpod videos no longer available.

This video concerns Israel’s 2002 murder of a Palestinian teacher,cultural activist and neighbourhood organiser, Shaden al-Saleh. Shaden was the mother of Saed Abu Hijleh, who witnessed the murder and gives his own account here. Saed teaches political geography at Nablus’s an-Najah University, writes poetry, blogs, organises, and provides me with wonderful food and information, for which I’m very grateful. He’s a well-educated member of the Nablus middle classes. He’s also been shot in the belly and in the shoulder and has been imprisoned five times. But his suffering is not unusual. Everybody in Nablus has a story to tell. I’ve just returned from the prison, and over the next couple of weeks I aim to convey a few of the stories I heard. An example of Saed’s English-language poetry is over the fold.
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Written by Robin Yassin-Kassab

October 6, 2010 at 5:58 pm

Palestine Reading – FiveBooks Interview

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Five Books asks writers, academics and othersuch to list recommended books on a given topic. The Five Books Israel-Palestine week features interviews with interesting figures like Steve Walt. And me. Here’s a video interview of me making several of my favourite points:

Written by Robin Yassin-Kassab

July 29, 2010 at 1:00 am

When Did Resistance Become a Dirty Word?

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Any Resistance There? by Ali Farzat

What the Western political class and its media demand of the Arabs and Muslims is acceptance of the unacceptable status quo in Israel-Palestine. To resist the status quo is to be troublesome, destabilising and irrationally violent. Resistance arises from the inadequacies of a culture and religion given to antisemitism and hysteria. In order to develop, these backward folk must give resistance up.

For the Lebanese, this means that they must forget the brutal 22-year occupation of their country and the 1982 siege of Beirut as well as the 2006 assault on the country’s civilian infrastructure. They must forget the endless chain of massacres perpetrated by Zionists and their allies on Lebanese territory. They must smile when Israel violates their air space on a daily basis and threatens to send them “back to the stone age” on a weekly basis. They must disarm and label as terrorist Hizbullah, the principled defender of their country.

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Written by Robin Yassin-Kassab

June 6, 2010 at 3:03 pm

The Earth Shifts

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Following the Israeli act of terrorism in the Mediterranean, calls for the siege of Gaza to be lifted have come from some unlikely quarters, including the British prime minister. A nervous Husni Mubarak has temporarily opened Egypt’s border with Gaza. More ships are being prepared to break the siege, including one organised by European Jewish groups. Norway has cancelled a military seminar because an Israeli officer was part of the programme. Swedish dock workers will block Israeli ships and goods for a week. The British trades union UNITE has voted to boycott Israeli companies. A French cinema chain has pulled an Israeli film and will instead show a film about Rachel Corrie (murdered by Zionism while protecting a Palestinian home from demolition). Nicaragua has suspended ties with Israel. The rock groups Gorillaz, the Pixies and the Klaxons have added their names to the growing list of musicians (Santana, Elvis Costello, Gil Scott Heron..) who refuse to perform in the apartheid state. But the big story, the earthshaking story, is Turkey. Idrees has already posted the video below at PULSE, but I must repost it here. It shows the expanding demonstrations in Turkey, with Turks waving Palestinian, Hamas and Hizbullah flags, and even pictures of Imad Mughniyeh. It can’t be stressed enough how important this is. After a century of bitter estrangement, Turks and Arabs are coming together. This is a game changer.

Written by Robin Yassin-Kassab

June 6, 2010 at 12:16 am

Posted in Palestine, Turkey, Zionism

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Myth and Memoricide: Shlomo Sand’s “Invention of the Jewish People”

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Denise Buonanno's Le Juif Errant

This review essay was published at The Drouth.

A nation is “a group of persons united by a common error about their ancestry and a common dislike of their neighbours.” Karl Deutsch.

“I don’t think books can change the world, but when the world begins to change, it searches for different books.” Shlomo Sand.

Our Assumptions About Israel

Here is what we in the West, to a varying extent, whether we are religious or not, assume about the Jews and Israel:

The Jews of the world, white, black and brown, are the sons of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Moses, after leading the Jews out of Egyptian enslavement, gave them laws. Emerging from the desert, the Jews conquered the promised land of Canaan, which became Judea and Israel, later the mighty kingdom of David and Solomon. In 70CE the Romans destroyed the temple at Jerusalem and drove the Jews from their land. A surviving Jewish remnant was expelled when Muslim-Arab conquerors colonised the country in the 7th Century. And so the Jews wandered the earth, the very embodiment of homelessness. But throughout their long exile, against all odds, the Jews kept themselves a pure, unmixed race. Finally they returned, after the Holocaust, to Palestine, “a land without a people for a people without a land.”

This story has been told again and again in our culture. Today we find bits of it in Mark Twain and Leon Uris, in Hollywood’s output and in church pulpits, and of course in the mainstream news media. American Christian Zionists – devotees of the Scofield Bible – swear by it, and swear to support Israel with all the power of their voting block until the Risen Christ declares the apocalypse.

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Written by Robin Yassin-Kassab

May 14, 2010 at 12:29 pm

Myth-Making

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We often project our current political concerns backwards in time in order to justify ourselves. I say ‘we’ because everyone does it. Nazi Germany invented a mythical blonde Aryan people who had always been kept down by lesser breeds. The Hindu nationalists in India imagine that Hinduism has always been a centralised doctrine rather than a conglomerate of texts and local traditions, and describe Muslim, Buddhist, Christian, Sikh, Jain and animist influences on Indian history as foreign intrusions. Black nationalists in the Americas depict ancient Africa as a continent not of hunter-gatherers and subsistence farmers but as a wonderland of kings and queens, gold and silk, science and monumental architecture. To our current cost, Zionists and the neo-cons have been able to reactivate old Orientalist myths in the West, myths in which the entirety of Arab and Islamic history has involved the slaughter and oppression of Christians, Jews, Hindus, women, gays, intellectuals .. and so on.

Such retrospective mythmaking frequently goes to the most absurd extremes in young nations conscious of their weakness or of a need for redefinition (America may be one of these). Probably for that reason it is particularly evident in the Middle East.

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Written by Robin Yassin-Kassab

February 11, 2010 at 8:19 pm

Posted in Arabism, Egypt, History, Iran, Iraq, Islam, Turkey, Zionism

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To A Christian Zionist

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Update: I wrote this in 2006. If I wrote it today I would do it a little differently. Specifically, I would discuss the pernicious role of the Scofield Bible in perverting protestantism in America. I would discuss the meeting point of Christian Zionism, orientalism and racism in Western cultures. And I would point out that contemporary science has shown us that the direct descendants of the ancient Israelites are the Palestinians, not the Ashkenazi or Berber Jews who have colonised Palestine in recent years. Shlomo Sand’s excellent book The Invention of the Jewish People, reviewed here, summarises the science and undercuts the blood-and-soil aspects of Zionism which are so important to Christian Zionists and their ultimately anti-Semitic agenda.

I have recently been discussing Middle East issues with an American colleague who I would describe as a Christian Zionist. Although I like him personally I find some of his ideas (on Palestinian history, and Lebanon, and the wider Middle East) pretty offensive, and I have told him so. So as not to start an argument, I told him so in writing. He replied, saying that although he disapproves of collective punishment of the Palestinians he believes that the Bible clearly states that the Holy Land belongs to the Jews, and that the rebuilding of Israel prophesied in the Old Testament has happened since 1948. Hmm. My first response is anger. I understand Jews with memories of European anti-Semitism being attracted to Zionism, however wrong I think they are, but Americans? People who are not oppressed, who think Palestine is a Cecil B Demille set, who think real human beings (Arabs) are less important than their own narrow interpretations of scripture. Who think that ethnic cleansing, massacres, and apartheid are supported by God. It makes my blood boil. But I think responding intelligently to this kind of thing is important, because there are millions of Americans (with power) who see the Middle East through a Biblical prism. Anyway, here is my latest letter:

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Written by Robin Yassin-Kassab

November 22, 2009 at 1:46 pm

“Israeli Apartheid – A Beginner’s Guide”

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gas arabs

settler graffitti in Hebron/al-Khalil

That there are striking parallels between white rule in apartheid South Africa and Zionist rule in Palestine – an analogy made by such mainstream figures as President Jimmy Carter and Archbishop Desmond Tutu – should no longer be controversial. But calling Israeli apartheid by its name will occasion the usual screams of anti-Semitism and ignorance from Zionist quarters, and for comprehensible reasons: the most politically inept American student knows that apartheid is a bad thing, a crime to be battled, not supported with weapons, vetoes in the Security Council and billions of dollars in ‘aid.’ Therefore the apartheid label must be vigorously resisted by Zionists and their fellow travellers.

Ben White’s “Israeli Apartheid – A Beginner’s Guide” begins by quoting Article II of the International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid, UN General Assembly Resolution 3068, which defines the crime as “inhuman acts committed for the purpose of establishing and maintaining domination by one racial group of persons over any other racial group of persons and systematically oppressing them.” The rest of White’s book leaves the reader in no doubt that the Zionist instance of apartheid fits the bill even better than the erstwhile South African version.

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Written by Robin Yassin-Kassab

November 7, 2009 at 6:47 pm

Posted in book review, Palestine, Zionism

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Enemies of Free Speech

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Gaza policemen check their organs

Gaza policemen check their organs

Remember the Islamophobic cartoons published by the neo-con Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten? The controversy rumbled on from 2005 into 2006, and involved angry demonstrations, embassy-burnings (in countries where you can’t look at an embassy without a government permit), deaths, boycotts, and campaigns of support to counteract the boycotts. Although I found the cartoons deeply offensive, and not in the least related to free speech or constructive debate, I was more upset by the responses of some Muslims.

The cartoons were a media provocation, and should have been combatted through intelligent use of the media. The outpouring of Muslim anger at a West which insulted Muslims after slaughtering them was certainly understandable, but was aimed at the wrong target. I lived in Oman at the time, where the state-appointed Mufti as well as editorials in the state-controlled press encouraged people to boycott Danish goods. The supermarkets put up signs announcing that they no longer stocked Danish goods (although an English friend assured me that Danish bacon was still on sale in the foreigners-only pork room of one supermarket). Meanwhile the shelves groaned under American products, and Oman continued to stock  British and American military bases. American planes were incinerating Iraqi Muslims in their mosques at the time. The cartoon fuss seemed very much to be an organised distraction from more serious issues.

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Written by Robin Yassin-Kassab

August 26, 2009 at 12:51 pm

Obscenity

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This is, more or less, a selection from posts I made during the Gaza massacre.

palestine051809According to the dictionary, obscenity is what is offensive or repulsive to the senses, or indecent in behaviour, expression or appearance.

From Palestine come pictures on the internet, and on al-Jazeera – burning half bodies, a head and torso screaming, corpses spilt in a marketplace like unruly apples, all the tens and hundreds of infants and children turned to outraged dust. A little more out of focus, but concrete, there is the obscenity of starved refugees and cratered farmland, of shriek-soaked hospital walls and babies born at checkpoints. Still further behind these instances, these symptoms, looms the brute and perpetual obscenity of the ancient Canaanite-Arab Palestinian people having been driven from their land into camps and walled ghettoes, where they have been repeatedly massacred. All of this is offensive, repulsive and indecent. The Western media, not wishing to offend our senses, keeps the obscenity quiet. Better put, they cloak the obscenity with the greater obscenity of untruth, of dreaming a pleasant version while people bleed and die.

This should concern everybody, and first of all writers and readers. For the prime obscenity for us here, away from the immediate death and panic, is the language we use to hide the reality of what’s happening. We use magical terms. This is how it goes:

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Written by Robin Yassin-Kassab

July 30, 2009 at 10:05 pm

Posted in Palestine, Zionism

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Bubbling with Energy

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An edited version of this article was published in The National.

Palestine 045We entered Palestine from Jordan, across the Allenby Bridge and over the trickle which is what’s left of the diverted, overused, and drought-struck river. The Dead Sea glittered in the hollow to our left. Jericho, the world’s oldest city, shimmered through heat haze to our right. The site where Jesus was baptised was a stone’s throw away. Palestine is most definitely part of bilad ash-Sham, in the same cultural zone as Syria, Lebanon and Jordan, but it is also most definitely like nowhere else on the planet. Suddenly the superlatives were coming thick and fast.

Palestine feels as large as a continent – but one that’s been crushed and folded to fit into the narrow strip of fertile land between the river and the sea. The Jordan Valley depression is the lowest point on earth, part of the Rift Valley which stretches from east Africa, and it’s as hot as the Gulf. But only a few miles up from the yellowed, cratered desert into the green hills before Jerusalem, and the weather is very different. As we left our performance in Ramallah a couple of nights later, gusts of fog blew in on an icy wind. If a Palestinian in the West Bank manages to find an unoccupied hilltop – which isn’t at all easy – he can look all the way to the forbidden Mediterranean, and perhaps he’ll pick out the fields of his ancestral village.

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Written by Robin Yassin-Kassab

July 24, 2009 at 1:01 pm