There are times when we must be suspect of calls for civility. Particularly at an institution like Harvard, where we are sometimes told that even war criminals must be given a place at the table, we must learn to see through the pleas for humanity when they are used quite shamelessly to cover up inhumanity, and to discern with clarity when the word civility becomes a ploy to distract us from the incivility we are not meant to notice.
In a recent Crimson article, organizers of the upcoming Harvard Israel Conference pleaded with the campus community to engage in “civil discourse,” offering their conference—a celebration of Israel’s economic achievements—as an example of the kind of discourse that would bring “new meaning” to campus dialogue. They mentioned that their posters had been defaced—an incident which I, of course, condemn—with the words “apartheid” and “white phosphorus.” However, they neglected to mention the third sticker that had been placed atop their posters: the portrait of political prisoner Hana Shalabi. Putting aside other allegations, it is worthwhile for us to remember who Hana Shalabi is and why the authors refused to print her name.
Hana Shalabi is a 29-year-old woman from Jenin, a town in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. In 2009, Israeli soldiers raided her house and threw her in jail, holding her in “administrative detention” for 25 months without charge on the claim that she may be a supporter of the terrorist organization Islamic Jihad. After more than two years in prison with no charges ever levied, Israel released her as part of a prisoner swap. Four months later, the IDF raided her house in the dead of night and arrested her yet again.
When no charges were levied against her for the second time, she launched a 43-day hunger strike, and it was only two weeks ago that Israel struck a deal to essentially deport her instead of letting her die, meaning that Shalabi will likely never see her family again.
Why did the conference organizers not mention Shalabi? Israel and its proponents have a great deal of power, a fact which allows them to speak at length about the country’s flourishing economy while ignoring military occupation of the West Bank and Gaza and the experiences of human beings like Shalabi. It is quite astounding that some conference organizers—including a proud former soldier of the army occupying the West Bank—feel a moral right to lecture the Harvard community about civility when they are essentially putting together a propaganda show celebrating the innovation of one of the world’s most egregious violators of human rights (if United Nations Security Council resolutions are anything to go by).
The Israel Conference, however, fits the mold of Israel’s recent public relations schemes. After the Israeli bombardment of Gaza in 2008-2009 that left nearly 1,400 Palestinians dead, Israel realized it could no longer defend its actions in front of the world and subsequently focused on promoting a sanitized, liberal version of “Brand Israel” instead.
A major tactic it has since pursued is “greenwashing,” which refers to a strategy by which an image of environmental consciousness is promoted by the Israeli government in order to make the country more likable to liberals and progressives who would otherwise condemn the country’s systematic human rights abuses.
This strategy is not only repulsive because it co-opts environmentalism in order to maintain support for a brutal military occupation, but also because Israel specifically undermines environmentally friendly measures when pursued by Palestinians. Israel diverts 80 percent of the occupied West Bank’s water aquifers to cities in Israel proper, starving Palestinian farms in order to nourish the trees they boast about. Israel also limits the ability of Palestinians to access their own water, systematically stalling or denying permits for water projects.
Meanwhile, where Jewish settlements in the West Bank are readily linked to Israeli water and electricity grids, Palestinian towns are not and are often refused permits to develop their own infrastructure. Israel has also been accused of systematically targeting and demolishing water and electricity infrastructure, including a series of German-funded solar panels currently slated for demolition for lacking the same permits that Israel systematically refuses to give out. The result? Palestinians often have to turn to the Israeli national water company for service, compelling them to pay the same government that occupies them in order to access the water underneath their own feet.
The Israel Conference, of course, will not mention how Israel undermines the right of Palestinians to development and innovation. It will not mention Hana Shalabi or the Palestinian villagers compelled to pay taxes to fund the occupation (and innovation!) of the state that has dispossessed them. Contrary to the conference organizers’ claims, the Harvard Israel Conference will not provide a “new paradigm,” nor does it present “new ways to engage.” Indeed, it offers us merely more of the same—civility in the service of a brutal, unending occupation.
Alex R. Shams is an A.M. candidate in Middle Eastern Studies. His column appears on alternate Fridays. Follow him on Twitter at @seyyedreza.
Gaza Siege Harshness Continues. Israel’s committing slow-motion genocide ~ by Stephen Lendman – March 23, 2012
For who does not understand the need or concept of resistance of Palestine, recommended read: History of Resistance | The Eagle of Palestine
- Special Topic | All Israeli Massacres on Palestinians
- iRemember… | Confirmed Names of Martyrs Occupation 2011 *
- Special Topic | Ethnic Cleansing
- Israeli escalation in Gaza | A “cover-up for settlement activity
- History of 1000′s years of Zionist Genocide | The Promised Land
- The Palestinian Right of Self Defense
|Gaza Under Attack – March 14, 2012 – Photography|
|Gaza Under Attack – March 13, 2012 – Photography|
|Gaza Under Attack – March 12, 2012 – Photography|
|Gazz Under Attack – March 11, 2012 – Photography|
|Gaza Under Attack – March 10, 2012 – Photography|
|Gaza Under Attack – March 2012 – Photography|
|Gaza Under Attack – Feb 2012 – Photography|
|Gaza Under Attack – Jan 2012 – Photography|
|Gaza Under Attack – Dec 2011 – Photography|
|Gaza Under Attack – Oct-Nov 2011 – Photography|
|Gaza Under Attack – Aug-Sept 2011 – Photography|
|Gaza Cast Lead Massacre – Photography|
Israel is not looking for Peace
- Israel is NOT looking for Peace but for this: “Greater Israel” Published by Radical Settler Movement
- On Aug 30,2010 Before previous peacetalks Netanyahu VOWED NO CONCESSIONS: “Eretz Israel” stretches from the med 2 river jordan INCL West Bank & Gaza
- With his OP-ED in #NYT anny Danon confirmed Netanyahu as well: “Making the Land of Israel Whole“
- Recently: Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin said: “The land of Israel is ours in its entirety“
- Knesset to vote on full Israeli annexation of the West Bank
- Read what Israel thinks about US: Netanyahu: ‘America is a thing you can move very easily
- Netanyahu: ‘We won’t renew settlement freeze to lure PA to talks’
- Israel plans 1000′s more settlement units as legislators call for FULL ANNEXATION of the WEST BANK
- Ayalon: Settlement in Jerusalem not for discussion | October 16, 2011
- Occupation planning to build 1.000.000 housing unites in next 10 years | October 26, 2011
- Read, what Leaders of Zionism spoke about the Endlösung for Palestine
- Israel’s Endlösung is going on for 63 years. List of All massacres
- The massacre which is NOT covered by your local media: 2011
- What is being ignored: Gaza Under Attack – in pictures
- Save yourself time, Forget all details. It is only about this : Ethnic Cleansing
Martyred By Israeli Occupation Attacks
انّا للہ و انّا الیه راجعون
May Allah Subhana wa Ta’ ala grant the Shuhada Jannatul Firdaus, and ease it for their families, loved ones and anyone around them. Allahumma Ameen ya Rabbil Alameen. ‘ Inna Lillahi wa ‘ Inna ‘ Ilayhi Raji’un, Allahu Akbar
* The list of shuhada does not display, the numerous victims of the zionist occupation which are undocumented by media. Nor it displays the victims of the “silent onslaught” due to restrictions of movement, ability to go to hospitals for treatment or life saving surgery, due to lack of medication because of the blockades and so on. For example: The Slow Motion Genocide by the Siege on Gaza only, killed 600 patients since Gaza got under Israeli Siege.
Neither does this list, display the avoidable mortality. A clear and statistical factual evidence, about the number of deaths due to indecent ruling by occupation forces. For even an occupier has obligations under International Laws, Geneva Convention and the Hague regulations, which it is neglecting. These circumstances, together with deliberate policies of the occupier to neglect and even deny every basic human right, severes avoidable mortality which is totally silenced by media or reporting organisations. While in the Holocaust, 1 on 6 Jewish people directly died of deliberate neglect, so if we believe the facts over 1 million due to avoidable mortality, neither should these same circumstances be ignores which are ongoing in Palestine. For this report displays a avoidable morality of at least 0,5 million Palestinians.
How many more dead corpses of Palestinians does the international community need to see in order to act? How many more cruelties and violations of Human Rights, Regulations and International Law will be needed to intervene so this ongoing warcrime is being stopped once and for all.