Qunfuz

Robin Yassin-Kassab

Archive for the ‘Zionism’ Category

Enemies of Free Speech

leave a comment »

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.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Robin Yassin-Kassab

August 26, 2009 at 12:51 pm

Untermenschen

with 6 comments

Palestine 305This is Jana Hannoun. I met her after a Palestine Literature Festival event at the British Council in occupied east Jerusalem. We were at the British Council because our original venue, the Palestine National Theatre, had been closed down by the Israeli occupiers. The British Council is just down the road from the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood, where Jana lived, and which Israel wants to Judaize.

At five o clock in the morning on August 2nd, the Hannoun and al-Ghawe families were physically thrown out of their homes by Zionist troops. 53 people, including 19 children, were made homeless, and their toys and clothes were strewn in the street. They were made homeless because they are members of the wrong ethnic group – because they are Arabs, the natives of Palestine, and not invading Jews. Their homes were immediately occupied by foreign settlers.

This, of course, is fascism. Because of a myth of national origin (and it is a myth – the vast majority of Jews originate from eastern Europe and north Africa, not from Palestine, not even two thousand years ago), the Canaanite-Arab Palestinians are designated untermenschen to be driven out. The Sheikh Jarrah families have experienced this before, as they are refugees from Haifa and west Jerusalem, ethnically cleansed by Zionist terrorist militias in 1948. The UN built homes for them in east Jerusalem after 1948, and that half of the city fell too in 1967. In this report, Jana is interviewed. More videos of the theft can be viewed here.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Robin Yassin-Kassab

August 5, 2009 at 4:57 pm

Obscenity

with one comment

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:

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Robin Yassin-Kassab

July 30, 2009 at 10:05 pm

Posted in Palestine, Zionism

Tagged with

Bubbling with Energy

with one comment

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.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Robin Yassin-Kassab

July 24, 2009 at 1:01 pm

A Visit to Hebron

with 2 comments

This was published on the Reuters Great Debate blog.

Palestine 210There’s no pretty way to describe what I saw in Hebron, no tidy conceit to wrap it in.

I visited as a participant in the Palestine Festival of Literature, the brain child of the great British-Egyptian novelist Ahdaf Soueif. I was in the company of many wonderful writers and publishers, among them Python and traveller Michael Palin, best-selling crime novelist Henning Mankel, Pride and Prejudice screenplay writer Deborah Moggach, and prize-winning novelists Claire Messud and MG Vassanji.

Our first stop was Hebron University, where I ran a workshop on ‘the role of writing in changing political realities.’ The students were bright and eager; the only discomforting note was struck by a memorial stone to three killed while walking on campus, by rampaging settlers, in 1986.

After lunch we visited Hebron’s historic centre.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Robin Yassin-Kassab

July 3, 2009 at 12:11 am

Entering Palestine

with 4 comments

I love it when Arab Christians have names like Omar. It shows, on their fathers’ part, a rejection of the sectarianism which cripples us. I know of a Christian family in Beirut which named its eldest son Jihad, and Muslim families with sons called Fidel and Guevara. Omar is not merely a specifically Muslim name; it’s more particularly a Sunni name, disliked by some Shia for theological-historical reasons. Omar is not a good name to have written on your ID card while driving through a Shia-militia-controlled area of Baghdad. But I know an Iraqi Shia woman whose brother is called Omar, because her father rejected the whole sorry sectarian business.

By and large, the Palestinians have avoided the curse. It’s still the case that if you ask a Palestinian whether he’s Muslim or Christian he responds, “Palestinian!” I mention this because our guide from Amman to the Allenby Bridge was a Palestinian Christian called Omar, and because the Palestinians, unlike their enemies, are proud of their diversity and pluralism.

Swaying in the bus aisle, Omar explained that Jordanian officers would check our passports but would not stamp them. “The Jordanian government has recognised Israel, but not Israeli control over the West Bank. Why are there Israeli police on the border and not Palestinians? Jordan recognises this as a crossing, but not a border.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Robin Yassin-Kassab

June 12, 2009 at 10:32 pm

Posted in Jordan, Palestine, Zionism

Tagged with ,

From Vanunu to the New Jew

with 2 comments

Mordechai Vanunu breaks the rules

I cannot keep silent … Disaster follows disaster; the land lies in ruins … My people are fools; they do not know me.” Jeremiah 4:19

Mordechai Vanunu is a Moroccan Jew, born in Marrakesh. Today he credits his humanity to having been born in an Arab country rather than in the Jewish state. He was nine when he was taken to Israel. He attended an ultra orthodox school, and after his military service became a nuclear technician at the Dimona plant. At this time his anti-Zionist politics developed. Later he flirted with Buddhism, converted to Christianity, and in London in 1986 told the Sunday Times what he knew of Israel’s nuclear weapons programme, backing his claims with photographic evidence.

He was then caught in a ‘honey trap’, lured by a beautiful woman from London to Italy, drugged and kidnapped in Rome by Mossad (with the connivance of British, French and Italian intelligence services), and brought back to Israel, where he served 18 years in prison for his truth-telling, twelve of them in solitary confinement. He says he survived because of his strong will (“the first thing I did in prison was give up smoking”), and by playing opera records. He refused to converse with the only human beings available – his guards. His lawyer describes him as “the most stubborn, principled, and tough person I have ever met.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Robin Yassin-Kassab

June 6, 2009 at 10:39 pm

Rant against Hypocrisy

with 9 comments

I don’t quite know why, but hypocrisy is the element in political discourse which catalyses my most murderous responses. Perhaps it’s because I like language, or respect it, and believe it shouldn’t be raped.

I remember Tony Blair making a speech in Gaza in November 2001. This is when I realised for certain that he was not a mere fool but a dangerous and filthy murderer. Away from the hall and its selected attendees, for the visiting dignitary’s comfort, a demonstration against British Zionism was being violently suppressed. And at that very moment British warplanes were ravaging Afghan villages. And Blair lectured his audience, representatives of those who’d been hounded and attacked for six decades, in the following terms: What you people must understand, he squeaked, is that no cause, however just you think it may be, justifies violence. Not a flicker of irony nor a trace of self-doubt wrinkled his ugly face.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Robin Yassin-Kassab

April 23, 2009 at 6:38 pm

Posted in imperialism, Iran, racism, Zionism

Tagged with

Four Solutions

with 9 comments

artist Marc Rudin

artist Marc Rudin

This was published at The Palestine Chronicle.

I do not hate (Israelis) for being Jewish or Israeli but because of what they have done to us. Because of the acts of occupation. It is difficult to forget what was done to us. But if the reason for the hate will not exist, everything is possible. But if the reason remains, it is impossible to love. First we must convince in general and in principle that we have been wronged, then we can talk about 67 or 48. You still do not recognize that we have rights. The first condition for change is recognition of the injustice we suffered.”

– Said Sayyam, martyred in Gaza January 2009, to Ha’aretz, November 1995.

All Palestine is controlled by Zionism. The Palestinians (not counting the millions in exile) are half the population of Israel-Palestine, but they are victims of varying degrees of apartheid. The Jewish state has already lost its Jewish majority, and is more hated by the Arab peoples than at any time in its brief, violent history. Let’s take it as given that continuation of the present situation is untenable for everyone concerned. We need a solution.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Robin Yassin-Kassab

February 15, 2009 at 5:04 pm

Posted in book review, Palestine, Zionism

Tagged with

After the Massacre 1 – Palestine and Israel

with 3 comments

A version of this was published at The Electronic Intifada

artist Marc Rudin

artist Marc Rudin

Hamas isn’t Hizbullah, and Gaza isn’t Lebanon. The resistance in Gaza – which includes leftist and nationalist as well as Islamist forces – doesn’t have mountains to fight in. It has no strategic depth. It doesn’t have Syria behind it to keep supply lines open; instead it has Mubarak’s goons and Israel’s wall. Lebanese civilians can flee north and east; the repeat-refugees of Gaza have no escape. The Lebanese have their farms, and supplies from outside; Gaza has been under total siege for years. What else? Hizbullah has remarkable discipline. It is surely the best-trained, best-organised army in the region, perhaps in the world (I’m not talking of weapons, but of men and women). Hamas, on the other hand, though it has made great strides, is still undisciplined. Crucially, Hizbullah has air-tight intelligence control in Lebanon, while Gaza contains collaborators like maggots in a corpse.

But Hamas is still standing. On the rare occasions when Israel actually fought – rather than just called in air strikes – its soldiers reported “ferocious” resistance. Hamas withstood 22 days of the most barbaric bombing Zionism has yet stooped to, and did not surrender, and continues to fire rockets.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Robin Yassin-Kassab

February 1, 2009 at 5:08 pm

Letters

with 4 comments

I’ve recently written to Gordon Brown, David Cameron and Khaled Mahmood MP to complain about their positions on the massacre in occupied Palestine. I’ve also written to Gerald Kaufman and Nick Clegg, leader of the Liberal Democrats, to praise their calls for an arms embargo on the apartheid state. And I walked into the office of my local MP, Russell Brown, and spoke to Mr Brown’s assistant. A few days later I received a letter from Mr Brown which repeats the usual rubbish about ‘peace’ and the need to disarm the resistance so the oppressor can sleep more soundly at night. At least he bothered to send me a letter. I received responses from Brown, Cameron, Clegg and Kaufman too, but none from Khaled Mahmood. Mr Mahmood was quoted by the Guardian as “dismissing” calls for sanctions and an arms embargo. Mahmood is a Birmingham MP who no doubt receives a lot of votes because he has a Muslim name. Not only is he betraying his Muslim voters who would like to see their representatives develop a peaceful strategy of resisting the murderous British-Zionist alliance, he isn’t even capable of replying promptly to letters.

Here’s my response to Russell Brown’s letter. I won’t publish his letter because I don’t have permission and because it’s on paper, but I quote some of it. You can imagine the rest – it’s the standard New Labour magical incantation.

Dear Mr Brown

Thank you for your letter in response to my conversation with Cameron concerning the situation in occupied Palestine.

You write: “It is not difficult to understand the frustration, fear and anger of those Israelis who are the targets of Hamas rocket attacks, and the pressure on Israel’s democratic government to take action.” You then state the government position, and that of the European Union Presidency, that Israel’s use of force is “disproportionate.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Robin Yassin-Kassab

January 24, 2009 at 11:09 am

Israel Must Lose

leave a comment »

I was one of 300 writers and academics who signed this excellent letter, which was published in the Guardian. The letter was an informal effort over only 48 hours. More writers and academics are signing at Znet.

The massacres in Gaza are the latest phase of a war that Israel has been waging against the people of Palestine for more than 60 years. The goal of this war has never changed: to use overwhelming military power to eradicate the Palestinians as a political force, one capable of resisting Israel’s ongoing appropriation of their land and resources.

Israel’s war against the Palestinians has turned Gaza and the West Bank into a pair of gigantic political prisons. There is nothing symmetrical about this war in terms of principles, tactics or consequences. Israel is responsible for launching and intensifying it, and for ending the most recent lull in hostilities.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Robin Yassin-Kassab

January 16, 2009 at 9:24 pm

Posted in Culture, Palestine, Zionism

Tagged with

Against ‘Peace’ and ‘Moderation’

with 3 comments

unknown artistThe numbers of the dead don’t mean much any more. It was round about the five hundred mark when I realised the impact of death on my mind was lightening. There are pictures on the internet – burning half bodies, a head and torso screaming, corpses spilt in a marketplace like unruly apples, all the tens and tens of babies and children turned to outraged dust – but how many pictures can you keep in your heart? How much anguish can you feel? Enough anguish to mourn 500 human beings? And of what quality can your anguish be? Can it be as intense as the anguish a bystander to the murder would feel? As intense as that of a friend of a victim, or of a father? What about the fathers who have seen all their children burn?

I remember the days when I was outraged if ten were killed in one go. Ah, happy days! Ten in one go would be good. But of course, this is what the enemy wants: the enemy wants us to value Arab life as little as it does. It wants us to stay in our numbness, to descend deeper in. It wants us to forget.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Robin Yassin-Kassab

January 8, 2009 at 6:42 pm

Posted in Lebanon, Palestine, USA, Zionism

Tagged with ,

Misha’al (and Clegg)

with 6 comments

The media love to ‘balance’ the occupied with the occupier. But if there was really balance, Khalid Misha’al, the leader of Hamas, would have as much airtime as Livni, Barak and Olmert. I congratulate the Guardian for publishing this excellent article by Misha’al. I republish it here because everybody should read it, and because I agree with it.

I do so with reservations, however. Although I support Hamas’s resistance, and although I think the Palestinians should be represented by the people they voted for and not by collaborators, I believe Hamas to be a flawed organisation. It is anti-Semitic, for a start; there’s no point pretending otherwise. It’s understandable that a population brutalised in the name of the Jews might latch on to ready-made racist generalisations about the Jews, but quoting the Protocols of the Elders of Zion in the Hamas constitution is not only morally wrong, but also stupid. It hampers clear analysis of the situation, and of the enemy. I wrote about that here: http://qunfuz.blogspot.com/2008/03/what-hamas-should-do.html

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Robin Yassin-Kassab

January 7, 2009 at 12:28 pm

Dear Prime Minister

with one comment

Dear Prime Minister

I am very pleased that you have been calling for an immediate ceasefire in Israel-Palestine. This marks a clear difference from the statements not only of President Bush but also of Tony Blair during the 2006 assault on Lebanon. Your stand shows some degree of British independence, and I thank you for it.

I am much less pleased to read this Downing Street statement: “We are working urgently with international partners to address the underlying causes of the conflict, including trafficking of arms into Gaza. Moderation must prevail.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Robin Yassin-Kassab

January 3, 2009 at 6:22 pm

Posted in Palestine, UK, Zionism

Tagged with ,