Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Open Letter to the International Geographical Union (IGU) "We cannot be neutral on a moving train!"

Open Letter to the International Geographical Union (IGU)

 As geographers, faculty, students, academic scholars, and people of conscience, we are profoundly dismayed by IGU’s decision to hold its July 2010 regional conference in Tel Aviv, in violation of the widely endorsed Palestinian civil society call for Boycott, Divestments, and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel. We are equally troubled by IGU’s response [1] to the open letter issued by the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI), which urged the Executive Committee to relocate the upcoming regional conference out of Israel [2].

PACBI’s letter was a compelling reminder that Israel’s academic establishment (and geography in particular) is implicitly and explicitly complicit with the Israeli state’s colonial, discriminatory, and oppressive policies towards Palestinians. As important social institutions they advance, sustain, and provide the intellectual and moral justification for Israeli actions against Palestinian people and their representatives both within Israel and in the occupied Palestinian territories. It is noteworthy that “no Israeli university or academic union has ever taken a public position against the occupation, let alone against Israel‘s system of apartheid or the denial of Palestinian refugee rights.”[3] PACBI underlines the prevailing, and deeply disturbing role of Israeli Universities in developing the very weapons and military doctrines used against Palestinians. Moreover, they highlight the tragic irony of geographers holding a conference about “Bridging Diversity in a Globalizing World” in a country built on urban destruction and gradual ethnic cleansing, a state which defines itself as an exclusively Jewish state, not a state of all its citizens, one that continues to violate human rights with total impunity and stands accused of war crimes for its latest offensive in Gaza [4].

The IGU Executive’s response claims that they are “morally and possibly financially bound to honor the commitment the IGU made to its colleagues in Israel” in 2000. Pragmatic impediments to relocate such an event are understandable yet solvable. It is however far less clear what the executive means by the ‘moral’ standard that binds them to ignore the widespread international outcry against Israel’s longstanding mistreatment of the Palestinian people as well as the open calls for support by Palestinians in their quest for basic justice. Against these concrete ethical imperatives the Executive Committee invokes its statutes, which proscribe boycotts, along with the guidelines of ICSU (International Council for Science) on the free circulation of scientists. Yet, we know that statutes are open to amendment in the face of critical circumstances and geographers have, over the last five decades, debunked positivist reductionism and struggled successfully to free our discipline from the false ‘objectivity’ of traditional science. The fact of Israel’s colonial and apartheid system, the oppression of the Palestinian people, including the denial of their inalienable rights, the irrational violence against and enclosure of the people of Gaza along with widespread international condemnation are ample and pressing reasons for cancelling or relocating the Tel Aviv conference.

The IGU Executive says they are concerned that the Boycott forecloses the possibility of debate and feel “the most effective way to resolve policy and political differences allegedly justified by science is through direct and open confrontation of the conflicting ideas and their proponents”. These arguments are based on three crucial misconceptions. First, the assumption that the relationship between Israel and Palestine is a symmetrical one ignores the overwhelming economic, social, military and political power of Israel relative to the poverty-stricken, war-ravaged state of the Palestinian people, their state and its institutions. A historical colonizer-colonized relationship along with the constant threat of military assault robs Palestinians of their basic livelihoods let alone the privilege and right to disagree politically or otherwise. Secondly, the intimation that the Israeli-Palestinian question is about “policy and political differences” and therefore not the concern of geographers since politics and science are two pure and separate spheres is an anachronistic vision of the discipline, and an insult to the very many geographers around the world whose work does not adhere to that simple binary and is ethical, policy-oriented and/ or politically engaged. And thirdly, the suggestion that Boycotts are not effective or legitimate is decisively invalidated by the example of South African anti-apartheid movement, which shows it to be among the most useful and least violent tactics in resisting oppression and injustice at an international level. A rising tide of International support for the Palestinian boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign calls on us to take a similar stance in the case of Israel.

To date all other forms of international intervention have failed to convince or force Israel to comply with international law and to end its repression of the Palestinians. As educators and intellectuals we must take exception to the impunity with which Israel has targeted Palestinian educational rights. Since its establishment Israel’s policies have been aimed at the destruction of Palestinian historical manuscripts, journals and books [5], suppression of academic freedom and closure of Palestinian universities [6], mobility restrictions on staff and students [7], destruction of educational infrastructure [8], systematic discrimination against Palestinian students [9], as well as arrest and deportation of local academic and international staff [10]. The latest example of these policies in our field is the travel ban imposed by Israel on geographer Khalil Tafakji, Director of the Cartographic Section of the Arab Studies Society in Jerusalem, and regular lecturer in international forums about Israel discrimination and ethnic cleansing policies in East Jerusalem [11].

In light of the above, and in the tradition of engaged scholars such as the well-respected late James M. Blaut whose intellectual efforts were guided by solidarity with oppressed people including the Palestinian people and South African anti-apartheid groups, we the undersigned, believe that it is our moral responsibility as scholars, intellectuals and activists to talk truth to power against injustice. In this spirit of international solidarity and resistance to oppression we stand in support of Palestinians’ non-violent anti-colonial struggle through a public campaign of boycott divestments and sanctions.

Historically, geography as a science was established and consolidated in direct service of European imperial and colonial expansion. The discipline's critical turn in the latter 20th century has worked to expose and repudiate this history and its militaristic and colonial tradition. It is in this spirit that we, the undersigned, collectively petition the IGU Executive Committee to take immediate steps to relocate the July 12 – 16, 2010 regional conference outside Israel. Given the circumstances if the conference goes ahead inside Israel we will not attend or otherwise participate in any manner.

We the undersigned, scholars and people of conscience, urge you to act promptly and ethically in this matter.

[1] below)



View the up-to-date list of endorsers:

Monday, February 22, 2010

بعض النماذج في مؤسساتنا الرائدة

(نقلا عن الإنترنت ولا أدري من الكاتب)

 هزيز الدنب
 هو كائن حي يتكاثر في مكاتب المدراء وفي الممرات التي يمر منها المدير ويتمتع بالدجل والخداع وله خمسون وجه وهو لا يستطيع مجاراة الناجحين فيلجأ لهز الدنب يتميز بذكاء مجاملة عالْ جدا ولا يعمل الا قبل حضور المدير او المسؤول بخمس دقائق ويتظاهر بالتعب والاجتهاد ، يتغذى على المدح والعلاوات وكلمات الشكر ، ودائما يمدح نفسه بانه شريف ونظيف اليد ويأخذ رزقه من تعب جبينه ، وكما قالت الشاعرة الكبيرة شيرين: انا مش بتاعت الكلام ده انا كنت طول عمري جامدة

ضريب الاسافين
هو كائن حي يتكاثر في اماكن استراحات الموظفين ، يتميز بقوة السمع والشم ، يستطيع شم الاخبار والمصائب عن بعد ، وسريع جدا بنقل المعلومات ، يستطيع قلب الامور بلحظات ، يتغذى على ضحاياه من الموظفين المساكين ، وكما قال الشاعر: ما بدي قلك شوبني.. شو الي جرالي بهالدني

كثير الحكي
 كائن كلامه اكثر من فعله يستطيع التكلم بخمسين كلمة في الثانية ، كلامه كثير لكنه طيب القلب ولا يؤذي احدا ، وكل مشكله تقع على رأسه في النهاية ، يتكاثر في الحمامات العامة وفي كل مكان يوجد به طعام ، وكما قال الشاعر: المتعوس متعوس ولو حطوله فانوس

كائن حي لا يتكلم كثيرا ، يسمع اكثر من ان يتكلم ، يجب الحذر منه عودة لقول الشاعر: ما تخاف غير من الساكت.. ويأخذ كل ما يريد ، لكن بدون ما يحس حد ، صبور وذكي جدا وكما قال الاديب الكبير: ساكت قلبي عمبيشكي ساكت.. لا ما بدي ابكي ساكت.. عيوني عمتحكي انا ساكت

كائن حي فاتح فمه دائما.. معاهم معاهم.. عليهم عليهم ، ليست لديه شخصية ، ليس له رأي ، اخر واحد بدوام واول واحد بروح ، دائما تعبان ومش طايق حاله يتغذى على الشيبس والاندومي ، وهذا كما قال الشاعر الكبير سعد الصغير: وحركب الحنطور وتحنطر درجن درجن

اللي ملوش دخل
كائن حي ، دائما يكون لابس بدلة من غير كرافه ، وكرش كبير ويعتقد بانه مولود مدير ، ويتواجد في مكاتب المدراء، ليس له عمل او عمله تافه فبيشتغل بالناس ، يمتاز بثقالة الدم ، والتبجح بالجاه والنسب كل همه العزايم والقهوة والشاي ، والتمسح بالمدراء عديم الاحساس ، يمتاز بقوة العين عند حضور الطعام ، والجرأة على الزملاء وكل ما تطرده (برجع بطلع) ودائما بعرف بكل شي ، وبعرف كل الناس ، وكل ما يتوكل بموضوع بخربه وبخربطه وبفشل.. وكما قالت الشاعرة نانسي: شخبط شخابيط.. لخبط لخابيط.. مسك الألوان ورسم عالحيط

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Palestinians tear down parts of the Apartheid barrier (by Lia Tarachansky)

During the weekly protest in the Palestinian village of Bil'in, thousands of activists assembled to celebrate five years of non-violent resistance. This form of popular struggle has spread to many other Palestinian villages and areas in East Jerusalem. The protests are made to show opposition to the confiscation of roughly half of the village's land by the Israeli Jewish-only settlement colony of Modi'in Illit. In 2007, after the village protested every Friday for almost 3 years, the Israeli Supreme Court ruled that the barrier does not serve a security purpose and ordered it rerouted. The Israeli army however, did not start to reroute the barrier until last week and informed the village that it will only return 364 (or 60%) of its 575 taken acres. During this week's protest the army fired dozens of tear gas canisters, shock grenades, and sprayed the crowd with liquid smelling like sewer and feces.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Talk to Hamas (by Arik Diamant and David Zonsheine )

As Israeli soldiers we hang our heads in shame over last year's attack on Gaza's civilian population. Dialogue, not war, is needed
 The Israeli media marked the one-year anniversary of Operation Cast Lead, the war on Gaza, almost as a celebration. The operation is recognised almost unanimously in Israel as a military triumph, a combat victory over one of Israel's deadliest enemies: Hamas.

As combat soldiers of the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF), we have serious doubts about this conclusion, primarily because hardly any combat against Hamas took place during the operation. As soon as the operation started, Hamas went underground.

Most casualties were inflicted on Palestinians by air strikes, artillery fire, and snipers from afar. Combat victory? Shooting fish in a barrel is more like it. Operation Cast Lead consisted essentially of bombing one of the most crowded places on earth, striking civilian targets such as homes, schools and mosques, and ultimately leaving a trail of more than 1,300 casualties, mostly civilians, over 300 of whom were children. As soldiers of the IDF reserves, we bow our heads in shame against this hideous attack on a civilian population.

As for the goals of the operation, these too are questionable. Allegedly, operation Cast Lead was intended to stop the firing of missiles by Hamas. But the Qassam missile problem had been solved before the operation started. The ceasefire agreement between Hamas and Israel in place from 19 June 2008 had resulted in a drastic reduction of missiles fired from Gaza from a few hundreds per month to about a dozen for a period of five months. It was Israel that never lived up to its end of the bargain to end the siege of Gaza, breached the ceasefire in November 2008 by attacking targets in the Strip, essentially ignored Hamas's proposal to renew the ceasefire, and eventually began operation Cast Lead a few weeks later.

The true goal of this operation was different from the one announced by Israeli officials. The real objective was not to stop the Qassams but to overthrow the Hamas government. As such, the operation failed. Hamas in Gaza is stronger than ever.

A year after this brutal war, a change of strategy is needed. Israel should commence immediate talks with Hamas, negotiating not only a ceasefire but also the "core issues" to be part of an end-of-conflict agreement. An open dialogue with Hamas is clearly in Israel's interest.

First, because Hamas was democratically elected in Gaza and has won the trust and respect of a significant part of the Palestinian people, anyone hoping to resolve this conflict will eventually need to bargain with the group.

Second, Hamas has proven capable of delivering peace and quiet to the citizens of southern Israel. As demonstrated before, Hamas has a strong hold on all organisations acting in Gaza and can enforce a truce.

Third, a prisoner exchange deal is our only chance to bring back the abducted IDF soldier, Gilad Shalit. In return, Israel will release hundreds of Hamas prisoners, out of the 8,000 Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails. Such a deal can have a pacifying influence on public opinion both in Israel and in Palestine and can be an important step towards reconciliation between the two peoples.

Hamas is currently Israel's enemy, but peace is made with enemies, not with friends. Hamas is also a powerful, pragmatic and well organised movement, possibly a future partner with whom Israel can "cut a deal". A reluctance to recognise Hamas as the party in charge in Gaza is a strategy that failed and needs to be replaced. A nation that is truly looking for peace cannot afford to ignore its partners.

• Arik Diamant and David Zonsheine are the founders of Courage to Refuse, a movement of Israeli reserve soldiers who refuse to serve in the occupied territories. In November 2009 they launched an initiative calling Israel to open a dialogue with Hamas

Friday, February 12, 2010

A sign of hope: On the anniversary of the release of President Nelson Mandela (By Samia Khoury, February 11, 2010)

On the anniversary of the release of Mr. Nelson Mandela, Mr. Gordon Brown, the British Prime Minister said: “His story reminds us that there is no corner of the earth so far away, no injustice so entrenched, no enemy so powerful that people of good conscience cannot campaign for, change and win”
Indeed how very true. And thanks to Mr. Brown for pointing that out, because it certainly gives us -Palestinians- some hope, especially that Palestine is not that far away from Britain. Neither is the long history of the dispossession of the Palestinians unknown to the prime minister at 10 Downing Street. After all the root cause of the tragedy of Palestine started in Britain in 1917 with the Balfour declaration and the British mandate which lasted until 1948.

It would seem to me that Britain should be the first country of conscience to redress the grave injustice “so entrenched” since 1948 and further exacerbated by the occupation of the rest of the Palestinian Territories in 1967. Indeed the enemy has proved to be powerful to an extent that it has marginalized the role of the United Nations, and turned the super powers into a tool that it can manipulate.

People of good conscience are already campaigning for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions against Israel, a campaign similar to the one that brought down the Apartheid regime in South Africa. So I hope that Britain will have the moral courage to set the record straight, and ride the wagon of the BDS, until the occupation comes to an end. Or will the rhetoric we heard on Nelson Mandela’s anniversary of freedom simply wither into thin air, and the “powerful enemy” will continue to gloat over the fact that nobody will dare meddle with its policies?

‘The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” Edmund Burke

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

رسالة غابرييل غارسيا ماركيز الاخيرة لقرائه

اعتزل الروائي الشهير غابرييل غارسيا ماركيز الحياة العامة لأسباب صحية بسبب معاناته من مرض خبيث. ويبدو أن صحته تتدهور حالياً

ومن على فراش المرض أرسل رسالة وداع إلى أصدقائه، ولقد انتشرت تلك الرسالة بسرعة، كالنار في الهشيم، وذلك بفضل الأنترنت، فوصلت إلى ملايين الأصدقاء والمحبين عبر العالم

نص الرسالة
"لو شاء الله أن ينسى إنني دمية وأن يهبني شيئاً من حياة أخرى، فإنني سوف أستثمرها بكل قواي. ربما لن أقول كل ما أفكر به لكنني حتماً سأفكر في كل ما سأقوله

سأمنح الأشياء قيمتها، لا لما تمثله، بل لما تعنيه

سأنام قليلاً، وأحلم كثيراً، مدركاً أن كل لحظة نغلق فيها أعيننا تعني خسارة ستين ثانية من النور

سوف أسير فيما يتوقف الآخرون، وسأصحو فيما الكلّ نيام

لو شاء ربي أن يهبني حياة أخرى، فسأرتدي ملابس بسيطة واستلقي على الأرض ليس فقط عاري الجسد وإنما عاري الروح أيضاً

سأبرهن للناس كم يخطئون عندما يعتقدون أنهم لن يكونوا عشاقاً متى شاخوا، دون أن يدروا أنهم يشيخون إذا توقفوا عن العشق

للطفـل سـوف أعطي الأجنحة، لكنني سأدعه يتعلّم التحليق وحده

وللكهول سأعلّمهم أن الموت لا يأتي مع الشيخوخة بل بفعل النسيان

لقد تعلمت منكم الكثير أيها البشر... تعلمت أن الجميع يريد العيش في قمة الجبل غير مدركين أن سرّ السعادة تكمن في تسلقه

تعلّمت أن المولود الجديد حين يشد على أصبع أبيه للمرّة الأولى فذلك يعني انه أمسك بها إلى الأبد

تعلّمت أن الإنسان يحق له أن ينظر من فوق إلى الآخر فقط حين يجب أن يساعده على الوقوف

تعلمت منكم أشياء كثيرة! لكن، قلة منها ستفيدني، لأنها عندما ستوضب في حقيبتي أكون أودع الحيا

قل دائماً ما تشعر به وافعل ما تفكّر فيه

لو كنت أعرف أنها المرة الأخيرة التي أراكِ فيها نائمة لكنت ضممتك بشدة بين ذراعيّ ولتضرعت إلى الله أن يجعلني حارساً لروحك

لو كنت أعرف أنها الدقائق الأخيرة التي أراك فيها ، لقلت " أحبك" ولتجاهلت، بخجل، انك تعرفين ذلك

هناك دوماً يوم الغد، والحياة تمنحنا الفرصة لنفعل الأفضل، لكن لو أنني مخطئ وهذا هو يومي الأخير، أحب أن أقول كم أحبك، وأنني لن أنساك أبداً

لأن الغد ليس مضموناً لا للشاب ولا للمسن. ربما تكون في هذا اليوم المرة الأخيرة التي ترى فيها أولئك الذين تحبهم . فلا تنتظر أكثر، تصرف اليوم لأن الغد قد لا يأتي ولا بد أن تندم على اليوم الذي لم تجد فيه الوقت من أجل ابتسامة، أو عناق، أو قبلة، أو أنك كنت مشغولاً كي ترسل لهم أمنية أخيرة

حافظ بقربك على من تحب، أهمس في أذنهم أنك بحاجة إليهم، أحببهم واعتني بهم، وخذ ما يكفي من الوقت لتقول لهم عبارات مثل: أفهمك، سامحني، من فضلك، شكراً، وكل كلمات الحب التي تعرفها

لن يتذكرك أحد من أجل ما تضمر من أفكار، فاطلب من الربّ القوة والحكمة للتعبير عنها. وبرهن لأصدقائك ولأحبائك كم هم مهمون لديك