A piece that ran in Electronic Intifada yesterday, by Al-Aqsa University Professor Dr. Haidar Eid, asserts that the new cross-cultural dialogue series promised in Words Without Borders violates the call for boycott and divestment sanctions on Israel.
Also yesterday, WWB ran its first dispatch in the series, Chana Morgenstern’s “Maps.”
In his essay, Dr. Eid quotes dialogue authors Azareen Van der Vliet Oloomi and Morgenstern:
“The series, as we foresee it, will cover emerging guerilla poetry movements, collaborations between Israeli and Palestinian intellectuals and writers, interviews with international and local film makers, reviews of the Jerusalem Film Festival, as well as an overview of various grassroots cultural organizations in the West Bank.”
Dr. Eid continues:
Though this statement of purpose may be intentionally vague, it is important for anyone who wishes to engage in serious “dialogue” in this area to be aware that a condition of utmost serious conflict exists between a colonial, apartheid occupying power — Israel — and the indigenous people. As part of a strategy for nonviolent resistance, the Palestinians have issued an international call for BDS against Israel until it complies with international law and respects the universality of human rights.
Dr. Eid cites guidelines for applying the boycott. The guidelines state:
“….events and projects that bring Palestinians and/or Arabs and Israelis together, unless framed within the explicit context of opposition to occupation and other forms of Israeli oppression of the Palestinians, are strong candidates for boycott”
In their initial posting, Oloomi and Morgenstern concluded:
We are hoping to gain a broader perspective of the various ways in which contemporary Israeli and Palestinian cultures negotiate the region’s complex and hybrid social landscape. We are also interested in looking at the connections between political activism and literature and the potential democratization of the social sphere through the arts. We are looking forward to traveling back and forth between Israel and the Palestinian Territories—from Jerusalem to Ramallah, Jenin to Hebron, Bethlehem to Tel Aviv and back, and to posting about our experiences and impressions over here.
He concludes by doubting that many Palestinians will participate in the project.
I am interested in readers’ opinions on this. Is this independent academic research, which needs to be free to take its course and come to its own conclusions? Or is it more like an event or series of events that create false symmetry between Israel and (occupied) Palestine?