Falk appointed to investigate Israeli actions in the Occupied Territories

March 31, 2008

As a Princeton alumna, I was pleased to hear that Princeton’s Richard Falk (Albert G. Milbank Professor of International Law and Practice) has been appointed by the UN as a special investigator on Israeli actions in the Palestinian Territories. But it also ties in with some of the discussions on language that we’ve seen on the blog recently, since Falk is an American Jew who characterized Israeli actions in the Occupied Territories as “Slouching Towards a Palestinian Holocaust,” and in this appointment he replaces South African professor John Dugard, who characterized Israel’s occupation as apartheid. Falk has also written on the legality of the Vietnam war and the 2003 invasion of Iraq, characterizing the latter as a war of aggression that should be tried by a war crimes tribunal.

Here’s what the Jerusalem Post has to say about the UN’s appointment of Falk: Read the rest of this entry »

Event: Iraq Never Again Conference at Sydney Uni

March 31, 2008

Below is information on an upcoming conference at the University of Sydney.  Khaldoun’s very own Noah Bassil will be one of the speakers.

Iraq Never Again:Ending War, Building Peace

The assumption by leaders that violence is a way to obtain resources and even to promote democracy has contributed to the catastrophe of Iraq. Running parallel to this age old reliance on militarism is the inability of leaders to plan for a just peace. This conference will examine the non violence policy alternative to war, the human costs of Iraq and the humanitarian means of security. In Iraq and elsewhere, only these alternatives promise a more peaceful and joyful future.

In addition to marking the 5th anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, this conference will celebrate the 20th birthday of
Sydney University’s Centre for Peace & Conflict Studies and the 25th anniversary of the launch of the international Peace Boat. Read the rest of this entry »

Palestinian refugees in Lebanon

March 31, 2008

This campaign may be of interest to readers of Khaldoun, and please also forward to anyone you think might be willing to contribute to ANERA’s campaign to address the dire circumstances of the Palestinian refugees in Lebanon.

For those who don’t know, over 30,000 Palestinian refugees in Lebanon remain displaced after last summer’s siege of the Nahr al-Bared camp and there seems little reason to think that camp will ever be rebuilt for the use of refugees, further exacerbating conditions at the camps (principally Shatila, Burj al-Barajneh and Baddawi) to which the displaced
were forced. Given the already incredibly cramped conditions at all of the Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon, the influx of the destitute Nahr al-Bared population into the remaining camps has strained limited infrastructure beyond the breaking point. Read the rest of this entry »

Australian “Sorry”and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict revisited

March 24, 2008

News of Kevin Rudd’s historic apology to the Stolen Generation has reached the Middle East. In Al-Ahram, a Cairo based Arabic daily newspaper author Shahira Samy praises the Labour government for its apology to indigenous Australians. This piece, written with the backdrop of the Arab-Israeli conflict made me wonder what might be achieved if Israel was to take a momentous first step and admit liability for the refugee problem just as Kevin Rudd has in regards of the Stolen Generation. Reading the article authored by Samy, “When Australia said Sorry” made me realise that peace in the Middle East hinges on symbolic gestures as much as it does on land allocation. Recognition of the right of Israel to exist, which has been extended by the Palestinians and some Middle East Governments, is just such a gesture. In return, the Israeli’s have not offered any similar gesture failing to even recognise the dispossession of the Palestinians or suffering it has caused in the sixty years of its existence. This is not surprising as Israel was founded on a myth that “Palestine was a land without a people, for a people without a land”. The millions of Palestinian refugees and years of bloodshed have proven the fallacy of this peice of Zionist propaganda. (Let it be said also that the same Rudd government that has been widely commended for extending an apology to indigenous Australians failed to recognise the plight of the Palestinians when on Wednesday 12 March, 2008 it congratulated Israel for reaching its sixty year anniversary. The unfortunate irony of this has been pointed out by Jumana in an earlier posting and by Alan Ramsay in, “Don’t Mention the War” 8 March, 2008.)

South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission is but one example of how much progress is possible when people are willing to make symbolic gestures that express their contrition and seek forgiveness. All Australians fortunate enough to feel the positive force of the Rudd Government’s apology (on behalf of the Australian people), and the acceptance of the apology by indigneous Australians, understand very clearly that symbolic gestures have the power to heal. Conversely without such symbolism very little progress is possible. In both examples mentioned here, much is still left to resolve. South Africa’s people have many bridges to still cross before the legacies of Apartheid are erased. Australia, in a similar way, must make a huge effort to tackle the structural poverty and the concomitant social problems experienced throughout many of Australia’s indigenous communities. But, in both cases the essential first step of admitting the policies of the past were racist, oppressive and unjust was made and the struggle to acheive a more tolerant and harmonious future is being undertaken. The Israelis and Palestinians would both acheive much just by just saying sorry.  

It seems to me then that the first crucial step in promoting peace in the region depends on genuine statements of the recognition of the humanity of the other side. I believe that the initial gesture must come from the Israeli’s who must accept that the act of dispossessing the Palestinians has created the problem of “two people for one land”. What is possible from that point on is conjecture, but just as in the case of South Africa and in Australia the recognition that past wrongs were committed and that land was taken from its original owners has led to accommodation and cooperation and efforts aimed at constructing a more tolerant and mutually beneficial future. Such statements do not necessarily lead to the repossession of lands taken from the original owners. In both South Africa and Australia the redistribution of wealth or property has not eventuated. A statement of contrition, and acceptance of blame, has no bearing on land but is a moral issue of the highest order and a crucial initial step towards building a lasting peace in the region.

The Middle East has accommodated difference for hundreds of years and there is nothing that pre-determines that this should not occur again. I await a historic gesture from the Israeli’s that recognises the tragic past and accepting blame for the wrongs committed as the crucial moment that divides a past marked by conflict between Israeli’s and Arabs with a future of dialogue leading to peace. Without this gesture, I fear that the future will remain unchanged and both Israeli’s and Palestinians will continue to live in fear and hatred of each of other.

Noah Bassil

Call for papers: Islam and sexuality

March 20, 2008



Contemporary Islam is an exciting and innovative multidisciplinary journal devoted to the exploration of contemporary Muslim lives. The journal provides insights into the contemporary dynamics of Muslim life by focusing on questions concerning the presence of Muslim migrants in the West as well as western-born Muslims, and the continuing active role that Islam plays in their lives. The journal also explores the idea of ‘the West’ among Muslims as well as the relationship between Muslim identities and social life. The Journal regards Islam as a modern religion in today’s global societies.

We seek high-quality theoretical and empirical articles of between 8,000 and 10,000 words to be considered for publication in a special issue on Islam and sexuality. We particularly welcome contributions in the following themes: Read the rest of this entry »

Why the US and UN has Forsaken Darfur.

March 18, 2008

March 2008 marked the fifth anniversary of two unresolved Middle Eastern tragedies. The US invasion of Iraq has claimed hundreds of thousands of Iraqi lives, destroyed the little infrastructure that still remained in 2003 and created immense groundswell of Arab disgust at the manner the US has projected its military power into Iraq. The moral position of the US today in the Middle East is probably at its lowest ebb since the end of World War 2. Much has been written about Iraq and the US since 2003.

However, at the other end of the Middle East another humanitarian crisis unfolded in early 2003 when the Sudanese government of Omar al-Bashir launched a major counter-insurgency campaign against rebel groups which has devastated the region and destroyed the homes and livlihoods of much of the population of central and western Darfur. Read the rest of this entry »

Birthright Palestine

March 17, 2008

A new Bethlehem-based NGO intends to “gather first-generation, western-born Palestinians (over the age of 18-years old) in their ancestral homeland, so that they can reunite and witness firsthand how their brethren are living under illegal Israeli military occupation.” Check the link below for further information on the 2008 program.