Thursday, 14 July 2011

The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine (part two)

Ghada Karmi, a Palestinian activist, writer and academic, spoke at the same meeting as Ilan Pappe. Below is a summary of what she said.

Ghada Karmi was herself ethnically cleansed in 1948, the year of the Palestinian Nakba, or catastrophe. Prior to 1948, Palestinians simply did not understand why the Zionist settlers thought it acceptable or just that they could arrive with a collective fantasy that the Palestinians' land should belong to these small numbers of people from Lithuania, Poland and so on. It just did not make any sense to them. They also could not understand why the British government supported the Zionists. Nevertheless Palestinians were initially very tolerant and helpful.

Palestinians only really began to understand the dangers the Zionist presence posed to them in the 1930s. There was a wave of protests but these were supressed by the British occupiers.

In 1948 Palestinians were evicted, displaced and killed in frighteningly large numbers. Whole towns were razed and place names were changed. Today street names or place names in Jerusalem and elsewhere might appear to be in both Hebrew and Arabic and in a sense they are. But it is actually simply the Hebrew name written in Hebrew and Arabic scripts.The zionists even appropriated the culture of Palestine. Today people talk about Israeli humus. But foods such as humus and falafel are Palestinian.

To this day, Palestinians cannot understand why Israel enjoys so much western support even after the massacres in Gaza and on the 'freedom flotilla'.

The movement in Britain must target this western support.

Jonathan Neale, an American activist and writer based in Britain, commented that if the arab working class get hold of the region's oil then the US may drop its support for Israel very quickly. There is then the possibility, after a short war, of a single state with jews and arabs living together in a democratic state.

John Rose, a British jewish activist, writer and academic commented that Ron Prosser, Israel's ambassador to Britain has complained recently that every time he speaks at a university in Britain he is confronted by an anti-Israel demonstration. This shows that public opinion in Britain is changing for the better.

Ghada Karmi closed by saying that there is a climate of fear and threat of intimidation around speaking out about Palestine. Nevertheless everyone should campaign, join a boycott group, start a group, contact their MP. The world will never be the same again after the arab revolutions and it is hopeful for the situation in Palestine but Israel should never be underestimated.

To buy 'Married to Another Man: Israel, the Palestinians, and the One State' or 'In Search of Fatima' by Ghada Karmi, 'Voices from the West Bank' by Chris Jones and Michael Lavalette or 'The Myths of Zionism' by John Rose see the Bookmarks website.

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