Lebanese- Israeli relations on the slide

An interesting short news article was sent to me today suggesting a further erosion of Lebanese- Israeli relations. For more go to The Daily Star at http://www.dailystar.com.lb

Here’s the story

Noah


Copyright (c) 2008 The Daily Star
 
Thursday, February 28, 2008
Lebanon to skip Paris book fair over Israel
 
By Agence France Presse (AFP)

 

BEIRUT: Lebanon is to stay away from this year’s Paris book fair in protest at the invitation of Israel as guest of honor, Culture Minister Tarek Mitri announced on Wednesday. “Lebanon will not participate this year in protest at the cultural event’s organizers’ decision to select Israel as guest of honor,” Mitri said in a statement.

Lebanon is the first Arab government to announce a boycott of the event, which runs March 14 through March 19, after organizers announced that 39 Israeli writers were being invited to mark the 60th anniversary of the Jewish state.

On Tuesday, the 50-nation Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization called for a boycott of the event by Islamic states.

“The crimes against humanity that Israel is perpetrating in the Palestinian territories … constitute, in themselves, a strong condemnation of Israel, making it unworthy of being welcomed as a guest of honor at an international book fair,” the group said.

Twenty-five Egyptian groups have announced that they would not take part, as has the Union of Algerian Writers.

In Sanaa, the head of the state-run Public Book Authority, Faris al-Saqqaf, said that Yemen would not be participating in the event at the request of the Arab League.

Bahrain and Qatar said they do not normally take part in any case. – AFP

 

Copyright (c) 2008 The Daily Star
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9 Responses to Lebanese- Israeli relations on the slide

  1. Raffe says:

    For some reason i’m not able to view it. Being told it’s an invalid URL

  2. Good for you Lebanon. Protesting such injustice is commendable. When a NaZionist nation is a guest of honor, and murderers, thugs and settlers stealing Palestinian lands, are “honored,” then it’s time to say good night!

    ATW

  3. llwynn says:

    Raffe, we’ve fixed the URL and it should work now. Thanks for alerting us.

    Attendingtheworld, I know there’s a lot of debate over whether Israel’s occupation of Palestine should or should not be called “apartheid,” but even the fiercest defenders of human rights like Desmond Tutu and Noam Chomsky don’t go as far as to call Israel a “nazi” regime. Agreed that the killing of Palestinians, the occupation of their land, the extrajudicial political assassinations that kill more civilians than fighters or politicians, the appropriation of Palestinian property, the jailings and state-sanctioned torture, etc. — all of these are appalling and we should speak out against them. But none of these really compare to the internment of millions in Nazi death camps, the systematic rape of interned women, the gruesome medical experiments performed on live, conscious prisoners, and the fact that reliable estimates suggest that more than 10 million people were killed in the concentration camps.

    I suspect that you make the comparison to highlight the irony that the oppressed have become the oppressors. That is indeed not just ironic but tragic. But when you consider what Nazism was and what Zionism is, there are more differences than similarities. I believe that the comparison is ultimately harmful to the cause of a liberated Palestine, because it lends itself to easy dismissal. It would be a pity if people were to ignore legitimate critiques of Israeli policy just because those legitimate critiques are paired with an absurd comparison between Zionism and Nazism.

  4. Noah Bassil says:

    Great response Lisa thank you for pointing out the danger of equating Zionism with Nazism- which is especially offensive to Jewish people, and all survivors of the holocaust, including many Jews who oppose Israeli government brutality in the occupied territories.

  5. Raffe says:

    The Lebanese government should not boycott this event. Academic and intellectual conferences are a haven for ideas, debate and discussion. The book fair is just one of the many venues in which citizens from all countries can get together and rejoice in a common pursuit of literature. Peace agreements and conferences have had little success over the last fifteen years (Oslo, Camp David and Annapolis) and so this is a chance for peace to flow from the bottom-up. If the people demand peace with their neighbors then the democracies must abide by their will. The book fair is a prime opportunity for Israelis and Arabs to get together in a neutral setting and for the veil of ignorance to be torn down and misconceptions about the enemy to be shattered.

    It’s tragic to see the people that saved for humanity the works of Homer and Aristotle by translating them from ancient Greek to Arabic fall into a state of such illiteracy and anti-intellectualism. Simply reading the UN Human Development Report on Arab States which shows the appalling current level of intellectual and cultural development of 300 million people in 22 nations is an indictment of the very thinking that Lebanons propound in its refusal to engage in The Paris Book Fair simply due to Israel’s presence. Israel is one of the great intellectual and cultural powerhouses of the modern world and for Lebanon and possibly other Arab nations to turn their backs on Israel’s contribution is narrow in the extreme and self-defeating.
    ATW, as a Jew that lost many family members in the holocaust i’m insulted with the equation of Zionism with Nazism. Nothing can compare with the systematic, industrialized genocide that the minorities of Europe suffered under the tyrannical grip of Adolf Hitler and his murderous generals.

  6. llwynn says:

    We can debate whether international literary and intellectual events should be boycotted for political reasons or not, but I don’t think that you can reduce the boycott decision to a symptom of anti-intellectualism on the part of the Lebanese. On the contrary, most of the highly educated, thoughtful Lebanese intellectuals I know support this boycott. And it’s not “simply due to Israel’s presence” — it’s a protest against Israel being the honored state at the event. A political protest is certainly an intellectual act.

    I’m not Lebanese, but I imagine that if my country had recently been attacked, over a thousand citizens killed, nearly 1 million displaced, billions of dollars of infrastructure demolished (according to Wikipedia, hundreds of kilometers of roads, more than 70 bridges, part of Hariri International Airport, water and sewage treatment plants, electrical facilities, hundreds of schools, two hospitals, and 15,000 homes were destroyed) and parts of the country remained uninhabitable due to unexploded cluster bombs, then I would not feel like collaborating intellectually with the attacking state.

  7. Raffe says:

    I apologize for the term ‘anti-intellectualism’; it wasn’t what i was trying to convey and i don’t mean to insult either your friends or the other, many intellectuals of Lebanon. We can’t choose our venues for peace i’m afraid. If the Lebanese are protesting at Israel being an ‘honored state’ then Israel will protest at various other events they feel will glorify their enemies. We have to grab any neutral setting with both hands because there are fewer and fewer events where both Israelis and Arabs feel safe.
    In terms of the war on Lebanon we could get into a debate about what constitutes a civilian death or whether or not the air strikes on Lebanon were justified. However I truly believe that the IDF did more than any other army to reduce the amount of civilian casualties. Granted there were incidents such as cluster bombs which i’m disgusted at however no other army would drop leaflets on entire villages warning them of impending air strikes, no other army would call homes and leave messages telling them to leave to avoid being caught in the cross fire between Israeli troops and Hezbollah militants.
    Hezbollah purposefully endangered the citizens of South Lebanon by using civilian buildings as launching pads of Katyusha rockets on the civilian population of Israel.

  8. llwynn says:

    Saudi Arabia has now joined Lebanon in declaring its intent to boycott the event. See http://afp.google.com/article/ALeqM5gt6_g2HxFLqkuPS1sAw0GCVDOS6A

  9. Raffe says:

    As I said in the post on Saudi Arabia; I hardly think that the Saudi’s have any leg to stand on when talking about human rights. Keeping their citizens in a backwards, fundamentalist society whilst boycotting Israel is hypocritical at best. The people who treated the Palestinians the worst were the Saudi’s and the Kuwaiti’s. Palestinians who travelled to these countries in order to send money back to their families were treated as slave labour. Living in sub-standard housing and horrendous working conditions. When Saddam Hussein attacked Kuwait and he was supported by Yassir Arafat, Palestinian women especially were raped and brutalized by householders because of Arafat’s support yet such is the blind condemnation of Israel that reports of these events have barely surfaced.

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