Thursday, 15 January 2015

On Travelling, Love, and the Nature of Discourse - Megapost

On Travelling, Love, and the Nature of Discourse
(a megapost regarding the MLI trip to Palestine)

There have been times over the past few days when I have not been specific about whether I support MLI or not. In many cases, I have allowed the turn of a discourse to paint me in a certain way. I feel that there are bigger concerns to address at the moment than clarifying my opinions on MLI; and to be perfectly honest, I am still in the process of determining just where I stand.

My ambiguity with regard to MLI itself is not to be confused with the clarity, strength, and certainty of my support for the *people* who participate in MLI. I might be quiet about the former, but I am certainly not quiet about the latter.

In the meantime, I refuse to accept the conflation of support for those who travelled to Palestine and Israel with the MLI with the justification for the colonisation and theft of Palestinian land, existence of settlements, and diminishment of the real import of genocide against Palestinians. The fact that I cast my moral support behind those who made the MLI trip does not negate my opposition to Israeli policies. The same is true of others who have similarly raised their voices.

I find the attitude that one must fully agree with every detail of the political platforms of someone else in order to adopt certain lables or participate in certain spaces very disturbing. It feels to me like an all or nothing, black and white with no shades of grey, you're with us or against us kind of expectation. I honestly feel that that kind of mentality makes spaces unsafe. It silences discourse and drives a wedge between people who have even the slightest difference of opinion on issues.

The fact is that people whom we know and love have been on an MLI trip in the past or are on one now. If we have a problem with the people participating on these trips, the first place to discuss the issue is in private with those persons. Some have gone public about their involvement; of course one can engage them in those public fora.

I have no problem with efforts to learn more about MLI and its backers. Fact-finding endeavours are understandable and to be encouraged. There are organisations behind MLI or linked to it which are downright frightening. It is also only natural to be opposed to the Israeli occupation of Palestine. Those who have been watching Israeli atrocities against Palestine over the years are painfully familiar with its genocidal oppression and brutal aggression. It is, therefore, human to take action in support of Palestine and Palestinians: protests, letter-writing, boycotts, social media engagement, etc.

In all of that, it should be just as obvious that stalking people, shoving cameras into their faces - even after they have stated that they do not want to be filmed, and exposing their identities and thus putting their safety at risk, is ENTIRELY UNACCEPTABLE. It is not acceptable to air their faces and voices in public videos, especially after they requested not to be filmed. How shameful. How disgraceful. Our friends and loved ones could well be hurt as a result of this kind of stalking.

Yet this is precisely how Ali Abunimah of Electronic Intifada, in conjunction with anonymous Jerusalemite blogger Zalameh, has been doing. I wash my hands of Mr Abunimah, whom I used to respect, and of any EI writings which are his.*

Disclaimer Section
* I am pro-Palestinian.
* I have engaged in Pro-Palestinian rallies.
* I boycott.
* I have attended pro-Palestinian lectures.
End Disclaimer Section

It is sad that I would need a disclaimer section like that. What is even more sad are these efforts to publicly air the faces, voices, and names of people who need their privacy protected. These are not CEOs of multinational corporations. They are not multi-millionaires who donate lavishly to Israel's occupation of Palestine. In fact, they regularly condemn Israel's policies against Palestine.

The people whom I know who are taking part in this trip are love-filled, passionate for justice (on many fronts and issues), and supportive of Palestine. They are there to learn and participate in an information and experiential exchange. These are my siblings - and yours - striving to carve another path of peace. My love is with them. So is my unblinking support. I flatly refuse to say a word against these precious human beings and strongly condemn the name-and-shame efforts against them.

Travelling to Palestine and Israel, meeting with Israelis and Palestinians, challenging and being challenged - these are not war crimes. This is not Netanyahu strutting at Aqsa. It is not Caterpillar dropping off another shipment of bulldozers. It is not Motorola selling surveillance technology to the Israeli military.

I condemn in the strongest possible terms what Mr Abunimah and Mr Zalameh are doing to my beloved siblings.

* Someone whom I greatly admire and respect contributes to EI. I have followed and supported this person's work for more than a decade now and do not plan to stop any time soon.

Image below for Facebook visibility purposes. Snagged from Wikipedia.

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