Gazans live in an open-air prison within an apartheid state. Backed by the United States and USD $3.8b a year in military aid, Israel dominates Palestinians. Recent Israeili airstrikes on Gaza have left over 200 Palestinians and a dozen Irsaelis dead. The moment continues a history that is settler colonial, one-sided, and disproportionate. And yet media and academic censorship has consistently silenced or punished those who speak out in support of Palestinians. In the face of that, many radical academics simply remain silent. In an age where ‘decolonization’ has become an academic buzzword, we must ask: will we stand by our purported ideals? On this episode, host Gordon Katic says “colonialism is not a metaphor” as he dives into settler colonialism and the costs of resistance, criticizing Israel, and speaking up for Palestine.
- First (@11:05), Rashid Khalidi is a Palestinian American historian and Edward Said Professor of Modern Arab Studies at Columbia University. He’s also the author of The Hundred Years’ War on Palestine: A History of Settler Colonialism and Resistance, 1917-2017. He analyzes letters between Theodor Herzl, the founder of modern Zionism, and Rashid’s great-great-great uncle, Yusuf Diya al-Din Pasha al-Khalidi. The letters, among other documents, reveal that colonialism was always an explicit element of political Zionism.
- Then (@46:29), Faisal Bhabha is an Associate Professor at Osgoode Hall Law School at York University and former Vice-Chair of the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario. In June 2020, he participated in a debate about the International Holocaust Remeberance Alliance’s definition of anti-semitism. He criticized the definition as vague and confusing, and subject to conflation of criticism of the state of Israel as anti-semitism. He takes us through the controversial debate and the fallout, including attacks against his career and attempts to remove him from the classroom.
- Be sure to pick up Rashid Khalidi’s book The Hundred Years’ War on Palestine: A History of Settler Colonialism and Resistance, 1917-2017 and have a look at the rest of his work on his academic page, including Resurrecting Empire: Western Footprints and America’s Perilous Path in the Middle East.
- Also, have a look a look at Khalidi’s recent op-ed on the conflict in Gaza, published in the Washington Post as he argues “What we’re seeing now is just the latest chapter in Israel’s dispossession of the Palesitnians.” Plus, catch him on Democracy Now! Interviewed Amy Goodman.
- Watch the debate, Fighting Anti-Semitism or Silencing Critics of Israel: What’s Behind the Push for Governments to Adopt the IHRA Definition of Anti-Semitism in which Faisal Bhabha participated. Read the IHRA’s definition of anti-semitism for yourself.
- Check out Shree Paradkar’s 2020 column in the Toronto Star on the “escalating suppression of moderate voices criticizing Israel” in which she discusses Bhabha’s case.
- Read through a quick and selected run-down of recent news about censorship and reprisal against academics who speak out against Israel or in support of Palestine in our Recent Censorship Timeline doc.
We cited a lot of sources in this episode. You can find a selection of them through the links below.
On social media
- On Twitter, writer Mohammed El-Kurd describes the violence in the streets and links to videos, May 12, 2021
- Mohammed El-Kurd speaks out on television against Israel’s actions in Gaza
- Israel’s Minister of Defense Benny Gantz tweets his thanks to the U.S. for blocking the U.N. Security Council resolution criticizing Israel’s attack on Gaza
- The Gravel Institute makes it plain on Twitter: “This is what colonization looks like.”
- Writer Andray Domise tweets “Academics wanna decolonize everything except actual colonies, get these soft mother fuckers outta here, lmao.”
- A video of the late Michael Brooks is circulating on Twitter in which he explains that despites to make it sound complicated, the Israel-Palestine issue is actually “super simple”
In the news
- Israel Weighs Gaza Truce Which Hamas Says Possible by Friday, Reuters, May 20, 2021
- Poet Mohammed El-Kurd Detained in Sheikh Jarrah After Condemning Israeli Apartheid on U.S. TV, Democracy Now!, May 13, 2021
- Israel Thanks US for Blocking UN Statement Calling for Immediate Ceasefire in Gaza, The Independent, May 18, 2021
- Did a University of Toronto Donor Block the Hiring of a Scholar for her Writing on Palestine? The New Yorker, May 8, 2021
- Petition to Bar Faisal Bhabha from Teaching “Human Rights” at Osgoode Hall Law School, B’Nai Brith Canada
- IHRA Definition at Work, Independent Jewish Voices Canada , September 3, 2020
- Open Letter — IJV York Denounces Smear Campaign Against Faisal Bhabha, June 25, 2020
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Darts and Letters is hosted and edited by Gordon Katic. Our lead producer this week is Ren Bangert and our managing producer is Marc Apollonio. Our research assistants this week are Franklynn Bartol and David Moscrop. Our theme song was created by Mike Barber. Our graphic design was created by Dakota Koop.
This episode received support from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research, as part of a project looking at higher education policy in Canada. The lead academic advisor is Dr. Marc Spooner at the University of Regina, and Franklynn Bartol is the research assistant
Darts and Letters is produced in Toronto, which is on the traditional land of Mississaugas of the Credit, the Anishnabeg, the Chippewa, the Haudenosaunee and the Wendat Peoples. It is also produced in Vancouver, BC, which is on the unceded territories of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh Nations.