Robin Yassin-Kassab

Posts Tagged ‘PLO

The Pen and the Sword

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This review was originally published in the indispensable Electronic Intifada.

Edward Said was one of the great public intellectuals of the twentieth century – prolific, polymathic, principled, and always concerned to link theory to practice. Perhaps by virtue of his Palestinian identity, he was never an ivory tower intellectual. He never feared dirtying his hands in the messy, unwritten history of the present moment. Neither was he ever a committed member of a particular camp. Rather he offered a discomfiting, provocative, constantly critical voice. And against the postmodern grain of contemporary academia, his perspective was consistently moral, consistently worried about justice.

Said was primarily a historian of ideas. More precisely, he was interested in ‘discourse’, the stories a society tells itself and by which it (mis)understands itself and others. His landmark book “Orientalism” examined the Western narrative of empire in the Islamic Middle East, as constructed by Flaubert and Renan, Bernard Lewis and CNN. Said’s multi-disciplinary approach, his treatment of poetry, news coverage and colonial administration documents as aspects of one cultural continuum, was hugely influential in academia, helping to spawn a host of ‘postcolonial’ studies. Said’s “Culture and Imperialism” expanded the focus to include Western depictions of India, Africa, the Caribbean and Latin America, and the literary and political ‘replies’ of the colonised.

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Written by Robin Yassin-Kassab

April 26, 2010 at 4:18 pm


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Here is my response to recent events in occupied Palestine. It’s quite long .. but not nearly as long as the Palestinian tragedy.

Fatah was established as a revolutionary liberation movement, the party of the Palestinian masses wherever they were, the movement which energised the Palestine Liberation Organisation and took it out of the hands of the Arab regimes. Arafat, Abu Jihad and other leaders resisted and negotiated, and withstood even the 1982 seige of Beirut, until the rulers of the world were obliged to recognise the PLO as the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people. The PLO included various small Marxist factions, but its centre was Fatah. The word means ‘opening’ or ‘victory’, and is a back-to-front acronym of harakeh at-tahrir al-watani al-filastini, or the Palestinian National Liberation Movement.

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Written by Robin Yassin-Kassab

June 24, 2007 at 12:23 pm

Posted in Palestine

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