Programming Note: Darts and Letters is off and retooling to relaunch in a new format early 2024.

EP21: Letters From Herzl (ft. Rashid Khalidi & Faisal Bhabha)

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. 
York University unequivocally supports academic freedom. We refer you to a public statement on academic freedom issued on September 29, and can be found here.
President Lenton has steadfastly affirmed the University’s commitment to academic freedom for all York University Faculty members which includes Professor Bhabha’s participation in the panel held by Ryerson Universitys Centre for Free Expression and co-sponsored by the Canadian Civil Liberties Association.
Within legal limits, academic freedom is rightly afforded a great deal of protection. As the President has stated, York believes that academic freedom is vital to the furtherance of robust and respectful dialogue, particularly where there may be disagreement and different perspectives. Universities play an essential role in creating a place where difficult world issues can be discussed, where arguments can be held up to scrutiny and be challenged, and where people can hopefully learn from each other and work towards solutions.
– Yanni Dagonas, Deputy Spokesperson, York University

——————-FURTHER READING——————-


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

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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.

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