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J. K. Rowling and the Prisoners of Israel

By Omar Robert Hamilton | CounterPunch | October 26, 2015

“Words are, in my not-so-humble opinion, our most inexhaustible source of magic.”

— J. K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, 2007.

How disappointing to see JK Rowling and Hilary Mantel signing this nefarious letter calling for the need for ‘cultural bridges’ with Israel.

The letter, assembled by a new organisation calling itself Culture for Co-Existence, is a litany of the tired tropes and doublespeak employed by Israel and her apologists.

It opens, point blank, saying, “We do not believe cultural boycotts are acceptable.” Within two sentences the reader finds herself in the patrician hallways of the British conservative, being simply instructed what to think, what is polite. Cultural boycotts are never acceptable? Ever?

The lazy argumentation continues, with the limp disbelief that “the letter you published accurately represents opinion in the cultural world in the UK.” This is in reference to a letter published by Artists For Palestine UK in which 1,000 UK cultural workers pledged to boycott Israel until it reverses its policies of apartheid and ethnic cleansing.

The letter struggles on with a series of meaningless assertions about the need to “inform and encourage dialogue” to “further peace.” When you’re dealing with the mechanized destruction of an entire people by one of the most technologically advanced and diplomatically shielded militaries in the history of mankind then talk, in 2015, of ‘cultural engagement’ is nothing more than further cover for Israel’s continuing colonization of what remains of Palestine.

Let us consider what the last twenty years of dialogue, mutual engagement and negotiation have brought us. Since the Oslo Accords were signed in 1993 the Israeli government has constructed 53,000 homes to house 500,000 new settler-colonists in the West Bank, has subjected Gaza to a medieval siege for over 6 years, destroyed 15,000 Palestinian homes, expelled 11,000 Palestinians from Jerusalem and divided the West Bank into 167 segregated population zones that are divided from each other by a 440km concrete wall and 522 military checkpoints. It has suppressed a popular uprising and launched four major offensives that have left over 7,000 Palestinians dead.

Israel, for all of those years (and we’re not even going back to 1948 here), has enjoyed full diplomatic and economic relations with all the world’s major players, it is at the centre of global trade in arms, hi-tech and diamonds. It competes in European sporting and musical competitions and enjoys European trade benefits. It has the US Congress in thrall to its every whim and has an army of lobbyists at work in every Western capital. Israel does not suffer from a shortage of ‘bridges.’

Words such as ‘dialogue,’ ‘peace’ and ‘bridges’ are hallmarks of the peace industry that has built up around Palestine in these years since 1993. Development money was released in reward for the PLO signing Oslo and foreign NGOs quickly came pouring into the West Bank armed with a new lexicon designed for annual reports and donor drives and an ultimate perpetuation of conflict and salaries. In this new language ‘peace’ means ‘submission’ and ‘dialogue’ means ‘silence.’ It’s not an Apartheid Wall, it’s a Separation Barrier – sometimes even fence. It’s not a ‘massacre’ it’s ‘fighting.’ The word justice is nowhere to be found. When Rowling’s letter states that “cultural engagement builds bridges, nurtures freedom and positive movement for change” one can only applaud the crisp professional meaninglessness of it.

Who do we have to thank for this exercise in euphemistic insincerity?

They call themselves ‘Culture for Co-Existence’ and the coordinators include: an Executive Board member of One Family Israel, ‘a leading support organisation that deals with victims of terror in Israel’; the executive director of Friends of Israel Educational Foundation; an Israeli software designer whose Facebook profile picture is a big Star of David and an investment banker who assists campaigns for the charity Jewish Care.

Surely the Culture of Co-Existence Clan is missing something? Could they not find a single House Arab to sign on with them? Or did they decide that wasn’t even necessary?

Who exactly are they planning on co-existing with?

And then you realise. They are not actually talking about dialogue between Israelis and Palestinians. They are talking about dialogue between themselves and Israel. The Palestinians are irrelevant. Peace, here, means being left at peace to keep doing business with the last apartheid state of the modern world. Dialogue and cultural exchange, in this lexicon, means that if you speak out about Israel then you can exchange your job for another one. In just the last week both the US State Department and MSNBC have had to retract statements that fell short of the Israel lobby’s standards. What chance, then, do independent institutions like London’s Tricycle Theatre have to exercise their moral right to refuse funding from an apartheid state? The answer: none.  Because, remember, according to JK Rowling, cultural boycotts are never acceptable. A travelling troupe of KKK improvistas wants to ‘re-interpret’ a lynching in your school’s theatre to show the other side of the story? Right this way, sir. A cultural boycott would only single out white men from Mississippi unfairly when the world is so variously filled with wrong.

The Tricycle Theatre, like several politicians, popstars and athletes, was laid siege to last year when it tried to turn down Israeli government funding. They were quickly dialogued into submission and bridges were forced onto them in a manner reminiscent of the British Opium Wars.

Considering that Ms Rowling’s trade is in language it is deeply surprising to see her name attached to such a letter. Clearly this Co-Existence Coterie, which consists of her agent and two trustees of her charity, Lumos, came into being entirely for her signature. Many of their fans hope, though, that Ms Rowling and Ms Mantel reconsider their position and remove their names from this document. It is nothing more than a plea to allow Israel to continue the ethnic cleansing of Palestine. Economic and cultural isolation worked to end apartheid in South Africa and it can end it in Palestine too. If it is peace that people actually want, they have to recognize that it can only come with justice.

Omar Robert Hamilton is a filmmaker, writer and a producer of the annual Palestine Festival of Literature.

October 26, 2015 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, Solidarity and Activism, War Crimes | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Pyongyang calls for Koreas’ federalization & reunification without outside interference

RT | July 7, 2014

North and South should no more be victims of outside efforts to exploit Korea’s division, Pyongyang has stated, calling on Seoul to make steps toward reunification through federalization in which differing ideologies and social systems would co-exist.

“The north and the south should specify the reunification proposals by way of federation and confederation and make efforts to realize them and thus actively promote co-existence, co-prosperity and common interests,” Pyongyang said in a statement.

The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) says that both nations should seek “reasonable reunification proposals” supported by all “to achieve reunification through a federal formula in Korea where differing ideologies and social systems exist.”

Presently a concrete wall runs 240 kilometres along the front line south of the Military Demarcation Line as a barrier across the Korean peninsula. Now the North is calling on the South to “join hands” to settle disagreements and pursue “the reunification issue of the country in line with the desire and wish of the nation.”

DPRK urged to focus on the joint declaration of 15 June, a document that was signed in 2000 in Pyongyang between South Korean president Kim Dae-jung and North Korean leader Kim Jong Il.

“In the June 15 joint declaration the north and the south recognized that there are common points in the north-proposed low-level federation and the south-proposed confederation, and agreed to work for reunification in this direction in the future.”

To start with the communist state is proposing to “create the atmosphere favorable for reconciliation and unity” and to end “calumnies and vituperations” that create misunderstanding and distrust among Koreans.

Legal and institutional measures that block family reunification should be lifted and a “broad avenue for contacts, visits, cooperation and dialogue should be opened.”

Meanwhile, the North says that both states should “end reckless hostility and confrontation” for the reconciliation and unity process.

“The grave situation in which even a single remark and act and tiny friction may lead to a dangerous conflict and destruction of the nation is prevailing on the Korean peninsula as hostility and confrontation have reached the extremes.”

Pyongyang urged its neighbor to stop all kinds of “north-targeted war exercises” and reject dependence on “outsiders” to resolve Korean problems.

“[North and South] should solve all issues by their own efforts in the common interests of the nation from the stand of putting the nation above all, attaching importance to the nation and achieving national unity,” the statement reads. “The north and the south should never fall a victim to outsiders keen on catching fish in troubled waters through the division of Korea.”

July 7, 2014 Posted by | Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , | 1 Comment