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Prof Haidar Eid challenges Nobel Laureate Racist

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    Prof Haidar Eid challenges Nobel Laureate Nadine Gordimer Professor Haidar Eid s challenge to Nobel Laureate Nadine Gordimer may point to a particular
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 24, 2008
      Prof Haidar Eid challenges Nobel Laureate Nadine Gordimer

      Professor Haidar Eid's challenge to Nobel Laureate Nadine Gordimer
      may point to a particular psychological hangup that seems fairly
      frequent among otherwise liberal, progressive Jews. Nadine Gordimer
      is a white South African Jew, a deservedly famous author. She was
      one of the few in that ethnic group who staunchly opposed that
      apartheid regime. In contrast, the large majority of white South
      African Jews were apparently quite accepting of their privileges as
      Whites and of the simultaneous oppression of Blacks. This division
      among South African Jews is similar to that of Israeli Jews. My
      guess is that the key to the `particular psychological hangup' so
      common among liberal, progressive Jews is to be found in Joel
      Kovel's excellent book, Ovecoming Zionism: Creating a Single
      Democratic State in Israel/Palestine, cited in note [1] of my
      essay "Murdering children is unforgivable". If it's of interest to
      you why someone like Gordimer is in that psychological trap, I
      recommend Kovel's exploration.

      Following professor Eid's letter is an interview he gave to
      Anna Weekes, a South African activist, the month before he wrote
      Gordimer, by which time conditions in Gaza were even more horrendous.

      Nadine Gordimer on her decision to participate in
      "Israel at 60 Celebrations"

      April 24, 2008 By Dr. Haidar Eid

      Dear Ms. Gordimer,

      I am a Palestinian lecturer in Cultural Studies living in Gaza. I
      happen to also have South African citizenship as a result of my
      marriage to a citizen of that beloved country. I spent more than
      five years in Johannesburg, the city in which I earned my Ph.D and
      lectured at both traditionally black and white universities. At
      Vista in Soweto, I taught your anti-apartheid novels My Son's Story,
      July's People and The Late Bourgeois World. I have been teaching the
      same novels, in addition to The Pick Up and Selected Stories, to my
      Palestinian students in Gaza at Al-Aqsa University. This course is
      called "Resistance, Anti-Racism and Xenophobia". I deliberately
      chose to teach your novels because, as an anti-apartheid writer, you
      defied racial stereotypes by calling for resistance against all
      forms of oppression, be they racial or religious. Your support of
      sanctions against apartheid South Africa has, to say the least,
      impressed my Gazan students.

      The news of your conscious decision to take part in the "Israel at
      60" celebrations has reached us, students and citizens of Gaza, as
      both a painful surprise, and a glaring example of a hypocritical
      intellectual double standard. My students, psychologically and
      emotionally traumatized and already showing early signs of
      malnutrition as a result of the genocidal policy of the country
      whose birth you intend celebrating, demand an explanation.

      They wonder in amazement that you might have missed Archbishop
      Tutu's contention that conditions in Israeli-occupied Palestine are
      worse than those under apartheid? They ask how you can ignore John
      Dugard's dispassionate and insightful report on the dismal state
      of Human Rights in the Occupied Territories? Surely, you have not
      been unaware of Ronnie Kasrils' writings following his latest visit
      to Gaza and the West Bank? Like you, these three men, all South
      Africans, were also active in the fight against racism and
      apartheid. Dugard's words on Palestine are very significant: "I
      certainly have a sense of déjà vu... The sad thing is that Israel is
      unwilling to learn from the South African precedent." In an article
      titled, "Israelis adopt what South Africa dropped," Dugard observed
      that the human rights situation in the occupied territories
      continues to deteriorate and called the conditions "intolerable,
      appalling, and tragic for ordinary Palestinians." Significantly,
      Dugard made shocking parallels between the situation in the
      Palestine and your country South Africa under apartheid: "Many
      aspects of Israel's occupation surpass those of the apartheid
      regime. Israel's large-scale destruction of Palestinian homes,
      leveling of agricultural lands, military incursions and targeted
      assassinations of Palestinians far exceed any similar practices in
      apartheid South Africa." Moreover, in its final declaration, the
      World Conference against Racism (WCAR) NGO forum, held in Durban in
      2001, stated that: "We declare Israel as a racist, apartheid state
      in which Israel's brand of apartheid as a crime against humanity has
      been characterized by separation and segregation, dispossession,
      restricted land access, denationalization, `bantustanization' and
      inhumane acts."

      You are no doubt aware of Israel's deep ties with apartheid South
      Africa, during which Israel, breaking the international embargo,
      supplied South Africa with hundreds of millions of dollars of
      weapons. Apartheid South Africa relied on apartheid Israel to
      persuade Western governments to lift the embargo. How did you relate
      to Israel during that period and what was your position regarding
      countries and individuals that did not support the policy of
      isolating apartheid South Africa? You were surely critical of the
      infamous policy of 'constructive engagement' led by Thatcher and
      Reagan at the height of the struggle in the 80s? And today,
      inexplicably, you have joined the ranks of sanctions busters.

      The eminent Palestinian, Edward Said, who gave you his friendship,
      would have been dismayed by your decision. He named you as a model
      for what he called, "oppositional intellectuals." It was his strong
      belief that, with regard to Israel, "[i]t only takes a few bold
      spirits to speak out and start challenging a status quo that gets
      worse and more dissembling each day." Little did he know that you
      would fail the oppressed in Palestine.

      My cold and hungry students have divided themselves into two groups,
      with one group adamant that you, like many of your courageous
      characters, will reconsider your participation in an Israeli
      Festival that aims to celebrate the annihilation of Palestine and
      Palestinians. The other group believes that you have already crossed
      over to the side of the oppressor, negating every word you have ever
      written. We all wait for your next action.

      Dr. Haidar Eid
      Gaza, Palestine

      Dr. Haidar Eid is an Associate Professor in the Department of
      English Literature, Al-Aqsa University, Gaza Strip, Palestine.


      Palestine: Interview with single-state activist Dr. Haidar Eid
      Report by Anna Weekes
      The Electronic Intifada
      12 March 2008

      The following is an interview by Anna Weekes with Dr. Haidar Eid,
      Associate Professor in the Department of English Literature, Al-Aqsa
      University, Gaza Strip, Palestine:

      Anna Weekes: What is the current situation in the Gaza Strip?

      Haidar Eid: One cannot talk about the situation in the Gaza ghetto
      without feeling disillusioned. What is happening here is a slow
      genocide taking place before the eyes of a very indifferent world.

      The siege of Gaza and the continued illegal collective punishment of
      its residents by Israel has resulted in soaring food prices. Many
      foodstuffs, medicines and other goods, such as building material are
      no longer available. There are zero stocks available for 91 drugs.
      Hospitals are reporting zero stock availability of pediatric drugs,
      antibiotics, as chronic disease drugs, cancer treatment drugs, a
      range of kidney dialysis drugs and IV glucose solution. In addition,
      there are also shortages of kidney dialysis machine equipment. There
      is an increase in diarrhea amongst children and the possibility of
      outbreaks of typhoid and hepatitis if the blockade is not lifted.
      And the closure of the border crossing has resulted in [the dealths
      of] dozens of Palestinians in urgent need of medical treatment,
      including some terminally ill cancer patients [who] were refused
      entry to Israel or Egypt by the Shin Bet [Israel's intelligence
      agency]. Dozens of other sick patients have also been denied access
      to hospitals in Israel, Egypt, Jordan and the West Bank. Thirty-
      eight of them, including children, have died over the last two
      weeks. One thousand of these patients are on death row!

      Fuel is increasingly scarce and expensive. The closure of factories
      has resulted in more than 80, 000 workers losing their jobs.
      Needless to say that in the meantime, the Israeli Occupation Forces
      continue to bomb and attack Gaza, killing Palestinians, mainly
      children and civilians, indiscriminately.

      AW: Is a two-state solution still possible?

      HE: No. Let me remind you of the resolution adopted by the World
      Conference Against Racism (WCAR) NGO Forum, held in Durban, South
      Africa, in September 2001. It states clearly that "Israel [is] a
      racist, apartheid state in which Israel's brand of apartheid as a
      crime against humanity has been characterized by separation and
      segregation, dispossession, restricted land access,
      denationalization, `bantustanization' and inhumane acts."

      The establishment of a sovereign, independent Palestinian state on
      the 1967 borders is unfeasible. A Bantustan-based system does not
      guarantee a comprehensive peace. It never did in Apartheid South
      Africa. Ironically, therefore, what the Oslo Accords, signed in 1993
      between Israel and the PLO, have led to is a situation that was not
      envisaged by its signatories, that is the impossibility of
      establishing a sovereign independent Palestinian state on 22 percent
      of historic Palestine. Israel has already created a new reality on
      the ground by annexing Jerusalem and declaring it as the eternal
      capital of the Jewish state. So it will not be the capital city of a
      future Palestinian state. The number of Jewish settlers in the West
      Bank has risen to more than half a million. And the Apartheid Wall,
      constructed by Israel in the West Bank, has stolen between 20 to 30
      percent of the West Bank, leading to an increase in the number of
      roads in the West Bank which are set aside for Jews only.

      The establishment of a sovereign, independent Palestinian state is
      not mentioned in any of the clauses of the Oslo agreement. This
      matter was left to be determined by the balance of power in the
      region. This balance is in favor of Israel.

      In any case, the establishment of a Palestinian state would not
      resolve the Palestinian question. It would not deal with the six
      million refugees scattered all over the world; nor would it tackle
      the issue of racism exercised by Israel against 1. 3 million
      Palestinians living in Israel and treated as third-class citizens.

      AW: What moves are Palestinians making towards campaigning for one

      HE: A diverse group of Palestinian activists, from various
      backgrounds have come together to further peace with justice in the
      Middle East through setting up the One Democratic State Group. We
      believe that the one-state solution is the only viable option that
      guarantees comprehensive peace in the Middle East. We strongly
      believe that the establishment of a secular, democratic state on
      historic Palestine for all of its citizens regardless of religion,
      race, or sex – after the return of Palestinian refugees – is the
      solution to the Middle East conflict. That is exactly what happened
      in South Africa and Ireland. No exclusivity based on ethno-religious
      background. Establishing nation-states based on ethnicity, race, or
      religion is anachronistic.

      We are also active in the Palestine-initiated campaign of boycott,
      divestment and sanctions against Israel. These measures, similar to
      those applied to South Africa during the apartheid era, are
      necessary to bring an end to Israel's genocidal policies towards
      Palestinians. We believe that these nonviolent measures should be
      maintained until Apartheid Israel recognizes the Palestinian
      people's inalienable right to self-determination and the
      establishment of a democratic state for all citizens.

      AW: Please give us your perspective on the meeting in Annapolis, US,
      aimed at ending the Israeli-Palestinian "conflict."

      HE: The Annapolis meeting was a fanfare with which the disgraced
      American president hopes to end his term as a "man of peace!" Like
      with Camp David, the fault is found with the Palestinians for the
      failure of this meeting. This meeting did not discuss the major
      issues that characterize the Palestinian question; namely, the
      withdrawal of Israeli forces to the 1967 borders, the right of
      return and Jerusalem. The US has always shown a pro-Israel policy
      vis-a-vis the fundamental rights of the Palestinian people.

      The most dangerous point was in Bush's opening speech in which he
      emphasized the "Jewish character" of the state of Israel. Now that
      is racism, as you know very well in South Africa. It asks us, and
      the international community, to forget about six million refugees
      scattered all over the world as a result of the establishment of
      Israel; and not even mention the cultural and national rights of the
      1. 3 million Palestinian "citizens" of Israel itself. According to
      this formulation, the Palestinians are only those who live in the
      Gaza Strip and the West Bank. Now, that is not the Palestinian
      cause; the cause is the right of return of the refugees, those
      inside and outside Palestine. There isn't a slight possibility of
      having peace in the Middle East without resolving this question.

      AW: What does your organization expect from the South African

      HE: Well, we expect the post-apartheid South African government to
      show a better understanding of our struggle since we have a lot in
      common. South Africa should sever its diplomatic ties with Apartheid
      Israel, exactly in the same manner as you demanded that the world
      boycott the racist governments of the Apartheid era. South African
      liberation figures, such as Desmond Tutu, Roni Kasrils and John
      Dugard, and even the [former] American President Jimmy Carter have
      called Israel an Apartheid state. How was Apartheid brought down?
      Not by having embassies in Pretoria, not by having economic deals,
      or any form of normalization.

      AW: What can ordinary South African people do to support the

      HE: Since UN, EU, the US and the international community have failed
      the Palestinian people, we bank on ordinary people to take whatever
      step, however small, to show their support for Palestine and
      rejection of Israeli genocidal war crimes. They can do that by
      putting pressure on their governments to force Israel to conduct
      itself within the parameters of the international law. But we expect
      more from ordinary South Africans since we have a lot in common.
      Treat Israelis the way you wanted us to treat racist South Africans.

      Anna Weekes is a South African trade unionist and an activist with
      the Anti-War Coalition campaigning for the South African government
      to place sanctions on Israel.



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