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Israeli Ambassador Holds Lecture on Campus Amid Fierce Protest

Earlier today, Impact learned that the Israeli ambassador to the UK, Ron Prosor, was to hold a public lecture in the Great Hall at 6pm. The lecture, which drew fire from protestors led by the Palestinian Society, was to be a discussion of “Historical Context, Regional Perspectives and Israel’s search for peace”. With very little publicity for the ‘public’ event, many students were only alerted to its existence by the increased security outside the Trent Building. Security personnel, when questioned, were unable to disclose the ambassador’s identity.

After a brief delay, and following a short introduction from vice chancellor David Greenaway, the ambassador took the floor. In a short 30-minute speech Prosor engaged with several ideas involving the Middle East, drawing dramatic reactions from a few spectators who left the room following a comment on the 1973 Yom Kippur War. When the ambassador addressed them as to why they were leaving, the reply was “because you are lying”.

The issue of Gaza was one addressed in the speech and closely scrutinised in the questioning that followed. After a question on Israeli war crimes an individual interrupted with the comment that “all I have heard is rhetoric”, followed by the accusation that ambassador Prosor had “blood on his hands”. Another dramatic exit followed.

Throughout the lecture came a backing track courtesy of the protesters outside who produced a continual stream of chants, condemning Israeli foreign policy and denouncing Prosor as a war criminal. The protest itself was loud but peaceful, watched over by a large police presence consisting of nearly twenty officers outside the event, along with large vehicles and helicopter surveillance. Protestors were blocked from entering the Trent courtyard, while security staff frisked attendees.

One leader of the protest said “I think they are depoliticising campuses. They are trying to deny the fact that the vast majority of students do care about international issues, are aware that hundreds of children were killed when Gaza was bombed and want to stand firm against that.” She continued, arguing that “the university is ignoring what the vast majority of students on campus feel. They’re trying to side with Israel, when most people want to see an end to the occupation.”

Following the conclusion of the lecture, one member of JSOC argued that the protest was not constructive: “They were trying to disrupt an intelligent and coherent debate that was going on. They should have got tickets and asked questions like the rest of us.”

The protest, which fell victim to torrential rain, was interrupted briefly when a group of unknown individuals arrived, shouting “Who the f**king hell are you”, before being escorted away by the police. Around fifty people took part in the protest, including local residents who were unhappy with the university’s invitation to the ambassador.

The university has released a statement, saying “As a university we are committed to the principle of freedom of speech. We have a diverse multinational community at The University of Nottingham, and we seek to provide all our students with a tolerant environment in which free and open debate is encouraged.”

Prosor himself had been critical of anti-Israeli sentiment on British campuses in the past, complaining in 2008 that “Israel has been cast as a pantomime villain.”

Dave Jackson (Additional Reporting by Daniel Gadher)
Images by Bruno Albutt, Leon Ferri and Andrew Mehigan

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19 Comments on this post.
  • Ian Steadman
    5 November 2009 at 00:43
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    Before anyone else posts on this, I have to say: Please, people, play nice. We had enough bullshit and bravado from both sides during last year’s occupation – it’d be swell if there was actual honest-to-god discourse on this issue for once.

  • Fozi Chaudhry
    5 November 2009 at 12:20
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    No Way Through highlights mobility restrictions imposed in the West Bank, that are limiting its habitants’ access to health care, thus violating a fundamental human right.

  • Oscar Mitchell
    5 November 2009 at 13:28
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    Today there is a Co-existance Trust meeting in the Portland building at 5.30. It will provide a forum for this, and many other topics to be discussed.

    All are welcome

  • Helena Dite
    5 November 2009 at 14:34
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    I agree that everybody has their right to freedom of speech, that means both sides.

    I just wonder if the University has invited any Palestinian representatives to lecture? It seems very one sided at this University and to be honest pretty much everyone I know would like to see a bit more Palestinian representation. Don’t know if anybody remembers that protest (a year ago maybe?) where that guy was arrested for protesting against the Israeli occupation ..

    What were you saying about freedom of speech?? x

  • Ahmed
    5 November 2009 at 15:53
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    Oscar while I’m sure that the co-existence trust meeting is very important. As a Palestinian and Palestinian activist I find it very infuriating when this conflict is portrayed as a religious problem. Religion has indeed hijacked an issue that is essentially about land. Zionism is not Judaism and Judaism is not Zionism. Equally Hamas’ Islamist militant approach to the issue is not reflective or represntational of the root cause of the problem.

  • Greg Harper
    5 November 2009 at 16:08
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    Helena, i don’t know if you were actually at the lecture last night but the issue was raised regarding a talk from the Palestinian Ambassador, and the Vice Chancellor said he was more than happy to facilitate such an event if the Ambassador would be willing to speak. I wasn’t aware that the Palestinian Society were pro free speech as they chanted and screamed in their attempts to prevent the Ambassador being heard. I don’t think that if the Palestinian Ambassador were to give a talk at the University, that there would be a repeat of such discourteous and disrespectful behaviour.

  • Sam
    5 November 2009 at 17:18
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    Dear Mr Harper

    I think it is an exageration to say the protestors stopped the amassador from being heard. They allowed him to exercise his right to free speech as they exercised theirs.

    I hardly think its fair to suggest no Pro-Israeli “discourteous and disrespectful” counter-demos have ever taken place. I remember seeing one on the local ITN news earlier this year…

    In addition, I’m not even sure “disrespect” is relevant in this context, is killing 400 children, many of them sat in UN-run Schools, disrespectful do you think?

    This is about more than manners. This is about life and death. From what I understand there have been casualties on both sides, but in the Gaza bombing the Palestinians lost 1400 lives while the Israelis lost 14.

  • ben
    5 November 2009 at 17:18
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    Greg:

    “I don’t think that if the Palestinian Ambassador were to give a talk at the University, that there would be a repeat of such discourteous and disrespectful behaviour.”

    That’s because the Palestinian Ambassador does not represent a state responsible for a regime of occupation, land theft and war crimes.

  • James F
    5 November 2009 at 17:33
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    Yes, Greg – the difference being that the Palestinian ambassador does not represent a state founded on the dispossesion of, and systemtic brutality towards, an indigenous population. It is very much like complaining, in the 1980s, about an ANC representative receiving a warmer welcome than the South African ambassador.

  • Samih
    5 November 2009 at 17:52
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    Greg and all those other advocates of free speach for spokespersons of indicted war criminals:

    Can I point out that as it stands a ‘Palestinian Ambassador’ does not exist. There is no Palestinian goverment, nor an official Palestinian state. There is only a Paletinian Authority that exits with no actual authority. The Palestinian Authority does have a represntative in London, but bearing in mind they hold no actual power and serve as a an arm of the Israeli Occupation. I for one as a Palestinian would not be interested in hearing them speak, further more, as has been pointed out I believe it would be fair to say that at least since the end of the second intifada the PA has not been directly resposnible nor carried out any attacks or intrusions on ‘Israeli’ soil. If however the University or the Pal Soc were to invite a spokesperon for Hamas to talk (which neithe rhave done) then considering the current climate and situation you might have a point. Athough I may then have to poitn out to you the difference between agressor/oppressor and oppressed. Sorry!

  • Ahmad
    5 November 2009 at 17:56
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    Ben:

    A Palestinian Ambassador correctly “does not represent a state responsible for a regime of occupation, land theft and war crimes” but would however represent an ‘Authority’ that collaborates with that ‘regime of occupation, land theft and war crimes.” If he did a) exist (as Samih has pointed out) and b) if he had been inivted I would again be protesting for the very same reasons I have just stated.

  • Daniel Cooper
    5 November 2009 at 19:42
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    Samih

    You are correct but “Ambassador” is the term that should be used according to foreign office advice where referring to Mr Manuel Hassassian who is the “Palestinian Delegate General to the UK”. Maybe Pal Soc could invite him? I have heard him speak before, free from intimidation and protest, and found him a good advocate of the Palestinian cause.

    Hamas on the other hand are an anti-Semetic organisation whose constitution blames Zionism for both World Wars. Does the University have a no platform policy? Surely they would be included in it?!

  • Carly
    6 November 2009 at 01:16
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    In this conversation it seems to be taken for granted that Israel is a ‘state responsible for a regime of occupation, land theft and war crimes’

    I would like to offer a different perspective, particularly on the war in Gaza: Israel withdrew all Jewish residents from Gaza in 2005 in an effort to take a step forward in the peace process, to show that they are willing to make concessions in order to set up an independent Palestinian state and achieve a real peace.

    Since the withdrawal, Hamas, a terrorist organisation was elected as government, an organisation that not only uses violence as a political method, but is openly committed to the destruction of a Jewish state. There can be little hope of setting up a Palestinian state that will coexist along side a Jewish state whilst the governing body refuse to recognise Israel’s right to exist.

    Moreover, since the withdrawal over 30 rockets every day were launched from Gaza into Israel. There can only be 3 reasons for these attacks:
    1) They wanted to drive Israeli citizens out of their homes
    2) They wanted to provoke the Israeli army into a war
    3) They simply wanted to cause trauma to Israelis.

    whichever reason for these rocket attacks, Israel had a right after 4 years of enduring it, to defend themselves. The war in Gaza was not motivated by a hatred of Palestinians, a desire for more land, or any other sinister reason. Israel was exercising its right to defend itself against the 80 rockets falling every day. The citizen casulties were tragic, as they always are in war, but Hamas used schools, hospitals and other civilian areas to launch rockets and therefore must have expected war to reach these civilian populated areas. Of course Israel must accept responsibility for military action that caused avoidable civilian deaths, even if only to say that these were accidental events. I completely protest any claim that Israel’s intention was to cause civilian death.

    The discussion about the Ambassador’s visit boils down to a balance of rights. The Ambassador had the right to freedom of speech, he was not insighting violence or hatred, in fact he was speaking on a platform of the ‘search for peace’, however genuine people take that to be. Palsoc also had the right to freedom of speech and they exercised it in the form of a protest.

    However what saddened me most was that many of the anti-Israel/Pro-Palestine activists were not truly open for diologue and debate. Their obvious purpose was to make as much noise as possible to disrupt the Ambassador’s speech. I actually did struggle to hear what the Ambassador was saying because I was sitting right near the window outside which the protest took place. The chants of ‘Liar, liar, pants on fire’ did actually drown out the Ambassador’s voice at certain points. Inside the talk the Ambassador was interrupted on at least 3 occasions. Instead of engaging in the conversation the anti Israel activists tried to ensure that no views other than their own are heard on campus. This is completely counterproductive and hypocritical.

    Sam you quite rightly said that this is about more than manners. I see this as about intentions. Israel’s intentions were not to ‘massacre’ innocent civilians but rather to protect their own people. Palsoc’s intentions were to restrict the freedom of speech to everyone except for themselves.

  • Samih
    6 November 2009 at 05:27
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    Carly I would first like to point out that I am not a supporter of Hamas and I never will be. But at least get your facts straight about anything to do with the conflict; nothing you have written is of any factual worth.

    “it seems to be taken for granted that Israel is a ’state responsible for a regime of occupation, land theft and war crimes’”

    I don’t think it’s debatable that Israel is a “state responsible for a regime of occupation, land theft and war crimes.” What a ludicrous thing to try and deny. Israeli is occupying the West Bank – this is a FACT! Israel has Gaza placed under a blockade, controls Gaza’s borders, air space, waters and regularly carries out military incursions into the strip – FACT! There are currently more than 480,000 settlers living illegally (under international law all settlements are outlawed by Geneva Conventions) on stolen land in annexed east Jerusalem and the occupied west bank – FACT! Finally according to a report (the Goldstone report, I’m sure you are aware of it) called for by the UN to investigate the Gaza ‘war’ in December of last year and January 2009 Israel was said to have committed war crimes – FACT! This is further backed up for example, by evidence given by Israeli soldiers who have spoken out; I suggest you read some of B’Tselem’s (an Israeli human rights group) ‘Breaking the Silence’ testimonials. I don’t really understand who is taking for granted that Israel is a ‘state responsible for a regime of occupation, land theft and war crimes’?

    “Israel withdrew all Jewish residents from Gaza in 2005 in an effort to take a step forward in the peace process to show that they are willing to make concessions in order to set up an independent Palestinian state and achieve a real peace.”

    As I have already mentioned regardless of the fact that Israel withdrew the 7,000 or so settlers from the Gaza strip (who shouldn’t have been there in the first place, as they were all living there illegally under international law, something I have already mentioned), Israel has now been imposing for the last couple of years a blockade on the Gaza strip, a form of collective punishment for the 1.5 million Palestinians who live there (again you guessed it) this is illegal under international law. Furthermore as I have already mentioned (I have a feeling I’m going to have to repeat myself as you clearly don’t understand the facts) Israel continues to control Gaza’s borders, air space and waters. On top of this, as Israeli showed its’ self to be “willing to make concessions in order to set up an independent Palestinian state and achieve a real peace” as 7,000 settlers were withdrawn from Gaza, magically the settler population of the West Bank increased by 24,501 people. Funny this, I thought Israel was making concessions for peace, but aren’t settlements illegal under international law?! Also I must say how very clever of you to have referred to the Gazan settlers as “Jewish residents” from Gaza.

    “Hamas, a terrorist organisation was elected as government, an organisation that not only uses violence as a political method, but is openly committed to the destruction of a Jewish state. There can be little hope of setting up a Palestinian state that will coexist along side a Jewish state whilst the governing body refuse to recognise Israel’s right to exist.”

    Didn’t Hamas agree to a ceasefire of 50 years on the 1967 borders, the same borders recognized by the international community? I really do not want to get into get into the stupid pre-requisites Israel makes for negotiating ‘peace settlements’, since when has a pre-requisite in the history of conflict resolution required one side to recognize that the other has a right to exist? The fact is Israel exists, why must others have to recognize that? The absurdity of the demand would label it meaningless if there weren’t more serious connotations to it. But alas Carly it seems that refusing to recognize Israel’s right to exist really appears to be the big problem. Firstly I think it is important to clarify that Israel refers to itself as a ‘Jewish, Zionist, Democratic’ state. As it currently stands if we were to genuinely believe that Israel’s right to exist needed to be recognized, then those Palestinians inside of Israel must recognize that they don’t exist (they don’t happen to be Jewish neither racially nor religiously, a racially pure nation doesn’t sound very democratic to me?) and all Palestinians would have to recognise that the lands and properties they lost in 1948 are a Jewish birthright (for the essence of Zionism lies in the belief that these lands are, and always were, the homeland of the Jewish people.) This doesn’t seem very realistic for it is the root cause of the conflict and far from being a prerequisite for peace it is completely unnecessary except to disrupt and delay talks on anything really substantial, like settlement expansion.

    “Since the withdrawal over 30 rockets every day were launched from Gaza into Israel. There can only be 3 reasons for these attacks:
    1) They wanted to drive Israeli citizens out of their homes
    2) They wanted to provoke the Israeli army into a war
    3) They simply wanted to cause trauma to Israelis.”

    ‘There can only be 3 reasons for these attacks’?! What are you talking about? I think I’ve already outlined a few direct reasons for these attacks: the blockade, Israel’s continuing control over Gaza’s borders, air space and waters. I think it is also worth bearing in mind that 80% of Gaza’s population is made up of refugees. Guess where they originally come from? Yes, that’s right the land that is now called Israel. There might be a tad bit of resentment there, especially considering that some of these refugees have been made to flee/were forced from there homes twice, once in 1948 and then again in 1967. I think it’s important to remember that this conflict has been going on a rather long time. I will continue to address this point whilst looking at another of your wild accusations.

    “Israel had a right after 4 years of enduring it, to defend themselves. The war in Gaza was not motivated by a hatred of Palestinians, a desire for more land, or any other sinister reason. Israel was exercising its right to defend itself against the 80 rockets falling every day.”

    First you said over 30 rockets a day, now you say exactly 80 rockets a day, where are you getting your facts from? If anything be consistent in what you are trying to argue, but admittedly this beside the point. The point is that this idea of self-defense is firstly equally applicable to the Gazans who were defending themselves against constant military incursions and a blockade, but more importantly it is a farce. It is not true that Israel showed restraint under severe provocation prior to their attack: Between the September 2005 withdrawal and the March 2008 ceasefire: Israel carried out 11 Major operations against the strip leaving 408 Palestinian killed and 1058 wounded as opposed to 3 IDF soldiers killed and 1 civilian wounded. Furthermore it is widely accepted that it was Israel who broke the March 2008 ceasefire and not Hamas, who did not fire one single rocket between March 2008 and the outbreak of violence prior to the December ‘war’. Moreover if Israel was really only acting in self-defense as you claim, what possible rationale could there be for an attack on the Strip’s only flour mill, and raw sewage treatment plant? This constant claim that Hamas were hiding in these place is just plain unacceptable!

    “The citizen casulties were tragic, as they always are in war, but Hamas used schools, hospitals and other civilian areas to launch rockets and therefore must have expected war to reach these civilian populated areas. Of course Israel must accept responsibility for military action that caused avoidable civilian deaths, even if only to say that these were accidental events. I completely protest any claim that Israel’s intention was to cause civilian death.”

    Weren’t a few UN run institutions hit, like a school and a warehouse for storing aid? Don’t mean to sound paranoid but is Israel’s rationale for targeting them because they believe Hamas and the UN to now be collaborating?! I’m not going to give you detailed testimonials from Gazans who were horribly injured or saw their families/friends horrifically murdered, but let me give you the facts as the UN puts them (on top of the ones I’ve already mentioned; the bombing of the Strip’s only flour mill, raw sewage plant and UN run institutions, and the fact that Gaza had been under blockade for a number of years), I believe them to be understated, but I think they clearly prove further that Israel didn’t merely make a few ‘mistakes’ like the Ambassador your defending claimed.

    1417 killed 4336 wounded including 111 women and 281 children
    Houses destroyed or damaged beyond repair; 6400
    Houses moderately damaged: 46,000
    People left homeless 100,000
    p/c of total population dependent on food aid; 90%
    Hospitals. Clinics, destroyed or badly damaged: 34
    Schools destroyed or badly damaged: 214
    Mosques and churches destroyed or badly damaged: 52
    P/c of all agricultural crops destroyed: 80%

    Seems a bit worse than some “accidental events”!!! I’m sorry to even say this, but based on your logic that the amount of devastation caused was due to the fact Israel could not help avoid fighting in civilian areas, could it not also be said that the Hamas fighters could not help but fight from civilian areas, the Gaza Strip is after all the most densely populated area in the world and with a blockade and Israeli control over the borders, where they and the fleeing civilians meant to go?!

    Let me also point you to an article that came out not to long after the last M-16s had finished dropping bombs on the Gaza strip.

    THE JERUSALEM POST Feb. 5, 2009
    Hagana weapons cache found in Hod Hasharon synagogue

    by Yaakov Lappin and jpost staff ,
    A stash of weapons dating back to the 1948 War of Independence was uncovered at a synagogue in Magdiel, Hod Hasharon on Thursday.
    Police said the weapons were found hidden on the second floor inside a wooden crate, when workers were cleaning out the area.
    Sharon Sub-district Police sappers removed the weapons from the building.
    The synagogue was used as a headquarters by the Haganah during the months preceding the declaration of statehood.
    The discovery come just over a week after a similar find at a kibbutz in the western Negev. At the end of January, a weapons cache was found at Kibbutz Nirim.
    According to reports, the cache contained rifles, mortar shells, and explosive materials which were used to defend the kibbutz during the War of Independence.

    Strange that it was ok for the Israeli state to be founded and fought for using such methods, but its not ok for the Palestinian state to be founded and fought for using such methods? Talk about hypocrisy…

    “The discussion about the Ambassador’s visit boils down to a balance of rights. The Ambassador had the right to freedom of speech, he was not insighting violence or hatred, in fact he was speaking on a platform of the ’search for peace’, however genuine people take that to be. Palsoc also had the right to freedom of speech and they exercised it in the form of a protest. However what saddened me most was that many of the anti-Israel/Pro-Palestine activists were not truly open for diologue and debate. Their obvious purpose was to make as much noise as possible to disrupt the Ambassador’s speech. I actually did struggle to hear what the Ambassador was saying because I was sitting right near the window outside which the protest took place. The chants of ‘Liar, liar, pants on fire’ did actually drown out the Ambassador’s voice at certain points. Inside the talk the Ambassador was interrupted on at least 3 occasions. Instead of engaging in the conversation the anti Israel activists tried to ensure that no views other than their own are heard on campus. This is completely counterproductive and hypocritical. Sam you quite rightly said that this is about more than manners. I see this as about intentions. Israel’s intentions were not to ‘massacre’ innocent civilians but rather to protect their own people. Palsoc’s intentions were to restrict the freedom of speech to everyone except for themselves.”

    I hope that everything I have mentioned helps you see just why the protest’s intentions were always unashamedly to disrupt a spokesperson for a ‘state responsible for a regime of occupation, land theft and war crimes.” A representative like that does not deserve the freedom of speech, when Palestinians aren’t even aloud the freedom to live. We will not engage in dialogue with a liar, whose government’s actions and whose rhetoric are clearly not “searching for peace.” Please read the dozens of other posts to try and comprehend why I as a Palestinian might have decided to protest and not hear what Mr. Proser had to say.

  • B
    6 November 2009 at 13:53
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    Honestly I don’t understand what any of this achieves. My understanding is that a representative from Hamas came up to speak last year. I find Hamas a disgusting, racist organisation. I support Israel. However, I was surprised that the university invited Mr Proser up to speak. I thought it was quite irresponsible of them.

    As for the protester who said:
    “the vast majority of students do care about international issues, are aware that hundreds of children were killed when Gaza was bombed and want to stand firm against that.” She continued, arguing that “the university is ignoring what the vast majority of students on campus feel.”
    I WOULD SAY, SADLY, THAT MOST STUDENTS HERE DON’T GIVE A SHIT. So it boils down to TWO SIDES OF AN ARGUMENT SEEING WHO CAN SHOUT LOUDEST. Honestly, WHO ARE WE HELPING by kicking up a fuss for either side?

    I acknowledge that Israel does some terrible things, and Palestinian people endure horrors – the expanding settlements in the West Bank, the civilian casualties in Gaza, the blockade (although why Israel should be blamed for Egypt’s border with Gaza, I have no idea), Palestinians fleeing their homes in 1948. However, NEITHER SIDE IS MORE OR LESS OF A PERPETRATOR.

    Egypt and Jordan put Palestinians into refugee camps between 1948 and 1967 and used them for political means. Jordan killed more Palestinians in these years than Israel has in its wars. Both countries were more than happy to not be responsible for Gaza and the West Bank after 1967. Why is this never mentioned? Because the focus is inextricably on one side – Israel’s. What I’m trying to demonstrate here is that NEITHER SIDE IS CAPABLE OF BEING OBJECTIVE. NO-one is willing to admit that THERE ARE FACTORS BESIDES THE ONES THAT THEY FEEL MOST STRONGLY ABOUT.

    In the meantime, I will continue supporting Israel, the land of my heritage, and I will continue to be appalled by some of the things it does. Palestinians will continue to support the Palestinian cause and to fight for a land, a home, and independence (and rightly so). And as this goes on, both will claim a right to free speech, and call for open debate. The only problem is that both sides will continue to do so by claiming that the other side doesn’t want those things, that they are the problem; by trying to delegitimize to other side; without actually wanting to SIT DOWN RESPECTFULLY and LISTEN to each other.

    We both feel aggrieved right? So let’s try and talk like adults to each other instead of listing dates, statistics and contestable claims (I’m sure some of my claims will be contested too).

    Until we can do this – treat each other like adults and not like children – all we’re doing is taking part in a popularity contest that most students really couldn’t care less about.

  • Dan
    6 November 2009 at 18:12
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    Samih, what I would like to say you I want to say as a Jew to a Palestinian.
    First I want to say I have no desire to talk about history, as we have seen with your discussion with Carly there seem to be several different factbooks floating around, and there is no real merit in throwing our different interpretations of the truth at eachother.
    If I many paraphrase a very justifiable Palestinian complaint “We understand that there should be a Jewish homeland, but why did it have to be us, after all we had no involvement in the Holocaust.”
    I understand this complaint, anyone who gives it a moments thought can also see how justifiable the complaint is. The Jews needed a homeland but why was it the Palestinians were chosen to suffer. I mention this because I want you to know I understand basic Palestinian resentment towards Israel, and I intend to answer one of your questions with this in mind.
    Now allow me to quote one part of your rebuttal to Carly.
    “Didn’t Hamas agree to a ceasefire of 50 years on the 1967 borders, the same borders recognized by the international community? I really do not want to get into get into the stupid pre-requisites Israel makes for negotiating ‘peace settlements’, since when has a pre-requisite in the history of conflict resolution required one side to recognize that the other has a right to exist? The fact is Israel exists, why must others have to recognize that? The absurdity of the demand would label it meaningless if there weren’t more serious connotations to it. But alas Carly it seems that refusing to recognize Israel’s right to exist really appears to be the big problem”
    Samih the reasons no state has never before asked others to recognise its right to exist is because this is an almost unique case in history, especially when that state was voted into existence by the United Nations. In most situations you would be right; it is ridiculous to demand that others recognise you exist. But not in this case. For Israel an acceptance that it has a right to exist is the first step to a lasting peace. With that acceptance, the wall can go down, the blockades can be removed the army can stop being the belligerent force it so often is. But if your neighbours not only believe you don’t have a right to exist, but also believe you should be destroyed, then these aggressive security measures are necessary for any group that has any desire to survive.
    Allow me to quote you again
    Didn’t Hamas agree to a ceasefire of 50 years on the 1967 borders, the same borders recognized by the international community?
    Note you said “agree to a ceasefire of 50 on the 1967 borders” not “didn’t Hamas agree to peace on the 1967 borders.” What you show is that the destruction of Israel is still central to Hamas, in fact a Hamas that is not always attempting to destroy Israel is in breach of its own Constitution. Now you said at the start that you don’t support Hamas, however in your statement what you show is that you don’t hold Hamas to very high standards. Hamas agreeing to a 50 year ceasefire isn’t noble nor is it anything to be praised. Because a ceasefire merely suggests a hiatus between combats, it is only when Hamas (as well as several other groups and countries) recognizes the fact that Israel has a right to exist and that there should be an everlasting peace between the two sides, it is only then that we can have peace. You as a Palestinian, a Palestinian who has a top education and who by all rights should be one of the leaders of your community, need to demand more of your own people. When you start to establish groups like B’Tselem and Breaking the Silence which hold up your government to the same standards Israelis hold up their government, when you demand that Israel needs to be recognized for peace to occur, then maybe we have a chance.
    As I said at the start I understand your bitterness and (may I say with no judgment) hatred towards Israel. However, what the Palestinian people have to come to terms with is Israel exists, and this needs to be recognized. And only then can the Israeli army calm down their security measures and stop being so aggressive, and then maybe our two very similar families can live side by side in peace.

  • G-bomb
    6 November 2009 at 18:24
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    The visit was a PR excercise, there was no intention for constructive debate (one student was wrestled out after producing a leaflet) . Israel is actively trying to regain some legitmacy in the face of the PR disaster of Gaza. The deaths of some many civilians with a high proportion of them children and the UN schools being shelled struck a chord with people across the globe. Posner was drafted in, his identity kept secret and and heads of schools were invited … he is essentially the spokesperson for unindicted war criminals as there has been no proper investigation on the part of Israel to crimes actually captured on camera. It was right to protest, as would have if a South African Apartheid representative came in the eighties.

    Don’t get distracted: The problem is the occupation of Palestine.

  • Dean
    8 November 2009 at 00:51
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    Carly, extremely well put! But it’s not as if Israel haters listen to logic. Their logic is based purely on bias.

  • zkharya
    8 November 2009 at 02:09
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    Ben (White?) says:

    “That’s because the Palestinian Ambassador does not represent a state responsible for a regime of occupation, land theft and war crimes.”

    He does represent a Palestinian national movement that, from its inception moved from an exclucivist, dispossessive then eliminationist policy towards Palestinian, Israeli and other Jews. Until 1988 the PLO covenant still sought the dispossession of all Jews who had arrived in Palestine after 1917. The clauses themselves have not been deleted. Hamas is openly dedicated to eternal jihad until the extinction of any kind of Israel. Not merely a Jewish state of Israel, to which extinction Ben White’s jihad/crusade is dedicated.

    If Israel were not strong strong, Israel would not exist. Israel does bad things, but her enemies have done, threatened and continue to threaten and do bad things.

    Nor are Israel’s actions excessive or unreasonable compared with those of other states e.g. the US and NATO in Iraq and Afghanistan. Certainly more reasonable than Russian in Chechnya, or Sri Lanka with the Tamils.

    Further, Israel treats Israeli Arab Muslims and Christians better than any Arab or Muslim or Arab state treats any Jew anywhere in the Arab or Islamic world.

    Yet you characters seek to perfect the one Jewish state from existence, while making an accomodation with or love to sundry Arab or Islamic regimes. Palestinian Christian or Islamic society is scarcely tolerant of Jews, and never has been, only tolerating Jews in tiny numbers, historically, and in an highly discriminated against state at that.

    All of which facts are entirely missing from Ben White’s “history”, characterising “Zionism” as racist, and only a few “individual” (literally) Palestinian Muslims and Christians as being so (any one remember the first Palestinian leader, Haj Amin Al Husseini?). All of which is to portray the conflict from, as he would say, “a curiously skewed perspective”.

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