Rachel Corrie

May 28, 2009

Here are a couple of interesting things that I’ve stumbled upon in the past few days.

“So this film is an independent investigation into the death of Rachel Corrie, but it turned out also to be an inquiry into the investigation itself, into the inquiry process of the Israeli army. Now, for example, the Israeli army says they are investigating possible violations of human rights during the bombings in Gaza in January. All the time the Israeli army investigates the killing of civilians, and in 99.9 of these cases, there is no independent investigation, and nobody’s punished, you know?

Not that it is the only army in the world that kills civilians. I’m not naive — it’s not. But maybe it is the one who kills civilians and it is so easy for the Western world to accept it and to swallow it. Maybe it is the only one where there are so many lies and hypocrisy around it, you know? It is not the army who kills the most civilians in the world, but maybe it is the army for which it is so easy to lie about it and to still be presented as democratic — this is a problem. The hypocrisy about it, you know? As an Israeli I would prefer them to be less hypocritical. If they continue to kill, at least I would like them to stop lying.”

“In Israel, when you are a Jew you can say what you want. When you are a Jew. That part is very important.”

 “it’s really time for the Americans, especially the Jews among them, to stop being intimidated by this pressure, from the Israeli lobby or whoever it is. They should say what they really feel. A lot of people are talking in our name who are not entitled to talk in our name.”

From Johannesburg to Jerusalem: Anti-Apartheid Organizing in the US

Monday, March 2nd, 7 pm
St Mary’s Episcopal Church, 521 West 126th Street, NYC

Showing of critically acclaimed film Have You Heard from Johannesburg? Apartheid And The Club Of The West, followed by a discussion with David Wildman of the United Methodist Church and Sam Anderson, anti-apartheid activist, educator, and founding board member of The Malcolm X Museum.
Event organized by the IAW New York Organizing Coalition

NYU-Tel Aviv University: A Partnership in Occupation

Tuesday, March 3rd, 8 pm
Kimmel Center, NYU (Room 802), 60 Washington Square South (between Thompson and Laguardia), NYC

Panel discussion on NYU’s relationship with Tel Aviv University, featuring award-winning novelist Elias Khoury, New York University professor Andrew Ross, and Nir Harel, member of Israel’s Anarchists Against The Wall.
Event organized by NYU Students for Justice in Palestine
Identification required to enter building

The Impact of Occupation: This Body Is A Prison

Wednesday, March 4th, 7:30 pm
Kimmel Center, NYU (Room 914), 60 Washington Square South (between Thompson and Laguardia), NYC

Screening of the critically acclaimed This Body Is A Prison, followed by a discussion with filmmaker Dylan Bergeson.
The film addresses the psychological impacts of growing up under occupation in different areas of the West Bank, exploring how isolation and violence existentially impact the way that children construct their sense of self.
Organized by NYU Students for Justice in Palestine & the Arab Student Association at Columbia University’s School of International & Public Affairs (SIPA)
Identification required to enter building

The Art of Resistance: Culture and the Boycott of Israel

Read a special invitation from the organizers here:


Friday, March 6th, 7 pm
Judson Memorial Church, 243 Thompson St., just off of Washington Square Park, NYC 

Panel discussion with best-selling author Ahdaf Soueif, founding member of the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel Omar Barghouti, and NYC poet Remi Kanazi; moderated by Brooklyn College Professor Moustafa Bayoumi.
Event organized by the IAW New York Organizing Coalition

The Israeli attack on Gaza: What is needed for a just solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict?

Saturday, March 7th, 3 pm
Judson Memorial Church Assembly Hall, 239 Thompson St. (1/2 block south of Washington Square Park), NYC

Israel’s three-week-long attack on Gaza in December and January left over 1,300 Palestinians and 13 Israelis killed and thousands of Palestinians wounded. Israel’s bombardment left the infrastructure in Gaza in a shambles, with schools, hospitals, mosques destroyed, while Israel continues to blockade needed supplies of food, electricity and water.

– Riham Barghouti, Adalah-NY, Coalition for Justice in the Middle East
– Nellie Hester Bailey, Harlem Anti-War Coalition
– Joel Kovel, Committee for an Open Discussion of Zionism & Author of “Overcoming Zionism”
– Dorothy Zellner, Center for Constitutional Rights & “Jews Say No”
– Steve Bloom, Activist Poets’ Roundtable
– Moderator: Justine McCabe, Co-Chair, Green Party U.S. International Committee
Event organized by the West Side Green Party

Party Against Apartheid

Saturday, March 7th, 9 pm
Alwan for the Arts, 16 Beaver Street, 4th Floor (bet. Broad & Broadway), NYC

Event organized by the IAW New York Organizing Coalition

Children in War

February 23, 2009


Seeing the pictures of the extremely adorable young cast of Slumdog Millionaire at the Oscars brought up unfortunate memories of the suffering of children in Gaza. Made old before their time, an estimated 98% of Gazan children suffer from severe psychological trauma. 

“Children comprise 47 per cent of Gaza’s population and are extremely vulnerable,” Pringle adds. “It seems the international community is neglecting them, that somehow Palestinian children don’t deserve the protections guaranteed under the Geneva Convention and humanitarian law. We must remember that where we drop our bombs, plant our landmines, and aim our guns, is where children are born, play, and go to school.” 


This particular boy, Emad, tells the story of his family’s experience of having their house destroyed during the shelling of Gaza.

“I used to sleep here and put my bookbag here… When I am alone I think, what is going to happen? I can’t stand it.”

Continuing with the theme of children in wartime, Caryl Churchill’s new play “Seven Jewish Children” explores the psychological repercussions of war on children and the various well-meaning and/or slightly insidious ways that patriotism, blind faith and lies are transferred to the next generation. The entire script is available here. http://thelede.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/02/18/is-a-play-about-gaza-anti-semitic-read-the-script/

Let’s hope that the ridiculous and stale charges of “anti-Semitism” will not stop this play from being performed in New York. It is high time that moralists and apologists like Christopher Hart and Justin Hoffman face their own discomfort with the fact that some Israeli parents might harbor racist feelings. Christopher Hart’s worry that Churchill’s organizing of medical aid for Palestinians makes the play dangerously one-sided is appalling. Should she have provided a booth for fundraising to help the 13 Israelis suffering from shock, I wonder? 

Billington said of Churchill: “What she captures, in remarkably condensed poetic form, is the transition that has overtaken Israel, to the point where security has become the pretext for indiscriminate slaughter.” While the play solves nothing, it “shows theater’s power to heighten consciousness and articulate moral outrage.” 


Why Palestine?

February 18, 2009

I watched this link today.
“Israel is the last Western, settler, colonial project in the world… there is a moral problem here, an inadmisibility of the racist, exclusive ideology which Israel refuses to acknowledge.” This is from Ali Abunimah, author of One State: A Bold Proposal to End the Israeli Palestinian Impasse

“Silence is complicity… non-Jewish Americans who are afraid to speak out for fear of being labelled anti-Semitic.” 

Questioning Israeli’s “special status” and right to self defense.

The fourth panelist was the Hampshire leader of Students for Justice in Palestine. On February 7th, Hampshire became the first college campus in the US to completely divest from Israel and other arms manufacturing companies. They were also the first to divest from apartheid South Africa in 1977. As a former college student, studying anti-colonialism, I identified with his statement about taking what one has learned in the classroom and then looking out into the “real world” to see Gaza as an occupied place.  “You can’t remain neutral on a moving train.” -Howard Zinn (or when your university is invested in military, arms and technology companies.) 

“These students have done a courageous thing… something that none of our politicians have been willing to do… a battle they have won… for peace and justice.” -Ali Abunimah “As scholars, activists, citizens, students, we are required to take a stance on this.”

“Resistance to Israel is also resistance to US hegemony in the region.” He makes the point that Barack Obama will not make significant foreign policy gains as long as he remains “silent or worse than silent… continues to endorse Israeli massacres.” 

Some American activists pointed out “a peversely two-tiered system…” within Israel. Israelis “did not deny the apartheid or the second-class citizenship but they justified it.” 

“Jews have to speak up for justice… that there is not this blind support for Israel… to make Israel accountable and to make the US accountable… no more blank cheques.” “I can understand in 1945… but by now, people should have learned better… that land was not empty… one of those myths of history that created so much damage.”

Review: Slumdog Millionaire

December 26, 2008

Finally, after all my friends had seen it, I went to see Slumdog Millionaire with my family. At first I was blown away by the volume of the opening song (our theater was experiencing technical difficulties). But after that, I really enjoyed it and was happy to see a collaboration between an Indian and an American director that did not end up completely on the Westernized end of the scale. (like Guru, Bollywood Nights or any of the silly remakes of Love, Actually) I felt that this film had a real, organic feel to it.
The story of Jamal was presented as one of triumph and escape from life- threatening danger; from guns and drugs and disease, but also from the threat of having his eyes burnt out so that he could earn more money as a beggar.
The inconsistencies and triumphs of a modern India come through in the film, so that we see how the pursuit and eventual attainment of Westernized consumer goods (sequined kurtas, traffic jams full of SUVs, air-conditioned mansions) does not take away the pride in one’s country which Jamal shows when he sneers “how should I know whose face is on a one dollar bill?” The characters in the film are living in a fragmented world. It is a cliche by now to say that the benefits of globalization are applied unevenly, but the film sneakily allows us some complicity with children living in the trash heaps of Mumbai. The audience is supposed to smile when the kids completely disassemble a car belonging to some rich American tourists. The man’s ridiculous attempt to give them a hundred- dollar bill drives home the disconnect between First and Third world realities. Jamal, by impersonating a call-center attendant, is able to track down Latika, his long lost love, through a cell phone which belonged to his brother.
Globalization, technology and these huge webs of international crime (personified by the crime lord who slashes Latika’s face), media (Amitabh Bachan’s arrival in a helicopter) and entertainment (the quiz show itself) are defeated in the end by the coincidences and destiny that bring Jamal to his final victory in the game show. It was not a redeeming (or consoling) ending because we see that he does not care one bit about the money. He does not desire what, as a heroic popular icon, he is told to desire. (a movie contract, some new shoes, a talk show spot?) He even refuses the offer of the host, himself a former “slum-dog” to help him cheat to win the final answer. By placing his faith in luck, destiny, a completely random guess, he is creating a new space for the desires of the Indian people to be articulated. No longer a response to colonialism, or a frustrated assimilation of globalized culture, a new India can be whatever a new India wants itself to be. The collapse of capitalist Western economies as well as their over-extension in Afghanistan and Iraq is creating a political condition where Tayyip Erdogan can walk out of Davos, Spanish civil right lawyers can prosecute Israeli generals for war crimes and India can declare its intention to use protectionism to protect its economy. Or perhaps this is just my romantic hope.

Here are some of my own quiz-show questions:

1. How many times has Irfan Khan played a police inspector in a movie? A. Four B. Five C. Six D. Seven plus
2. The catchy track played in the train scene where the boys are hustling for money is by which hot South Asian female singer? A. Nadia Ali B. Maya Angulprasam C. Sophie Choudry D. Nazia Hassan
3. The dance that Jamal and Latika were doing at the end is? A. Tango B. Salsa C. Waltz D. Bump N. Grind
4. Who is on the thousand rupee note? A. J. Nehru B. AP Kalam C. Chandra Bhose D. M. Gandhi (trick question!)
If you win I’ll give you however many rupees I have left over (probably not many) Good luck!