Saturday, 28 February 2009

Dr Sara Roy Talk at Kyoto University 5th March 2009

"Dr. Sara Roy is a senior research scholar at the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at Harvard ....Trained as a political economist, she has worked in the Gaza Strip and West Bank since 1985 conducting research primarily on the economic, social and political development of the Gaza Strip and on U.S. foreign aid to the region. Dr. Roy has written extensively on the Palestinian economy, particularly in Gaza, and has documented its development over the last three decades. "

人間・環境学研究科講演会(一般公開/日本語通訳あり) サラ・ロイ氏講演「ホロコーストとガザのはざまで--ホ ロコースト・サヴァイヴァー2世 として「ユダヤ人国家」に向き合う」

Biographical details here

The Iron Wall - Directed by Mohammed Alatar

I urge everyone to watch this film.

The Iron Wall Directed by Mohammed Alatar


In 1923 Vladimir Jabotinsky, leading intellectual of the Zionist movement and father of the right wing of that movement, wrote:

"Zionist colonization must either stop, or else proceed regardless of the native population. Which means that it can proceed and develop only under the protection of a power that is independent of the native population - behind an IRON WALL, which the native population cannot breach."

From that day these words became the official and unspoken policy of the Zionist movement and later the state of Israel. Settlements were used from the beginning to create a Zionist foothold in Palestine.

After 1967 and the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, the aim of the settlement movement became clear - create facts on the ground and make the creation of a Palestinian state impossible. Thirty nine years of occupation and the policy started showing results. There are now more than 200 settlements and outposts scattered throughout the West Bank blocking the geographic possibility of a contiguous Palestinian territory.

The Iron Wall documentary exposes this phenomenon and follows the timeline, size, population of the settlements, and its impact on the peace process. This film also touches on the latest project to make the settlements a permanent fact on the ground - the wall that Israel is building in the West Bank and its impact on the Palestinian's peoples.

Settlements and related infrastructures are impacting every aspect of life for all Palestinians from land confiscation, theft of natural resources, confiscation of the basic human rights, creation of an apartheid-like system, to the devastating impact in regards to the future of the region and the prospect of the peace process.

Palestinians and Israelis began the peace process based on a very simple principle: land for peace. Settlements destroy that principle and create a land with no peace.

Friday, 27 February 2009

Walls of Shame - Documentary (in 2 parts) 2007

Documentary Broadcast by AlJazeera in November 2007

There is nothing new about so-called 'protective' walls - most ancient cities had them. The ones we see today around Jerusalem date from the 16th century. But the 21st century walls not only look different - they serve a different purpose.

Welcome to the most divisive and controversial wall in the world today. The 700km wall, costing $2m a kilometre has been criticised by the International Court of Justice, yet Israel claims it is vital for its security and the warding-off of suicide bombers.

This episode of the Walls of Shame series will look at the plight of Palestinian farmers whose land became inaccessible because of the wall, and the real intention of those who first drew its outlines. And their highest priority was not the security of Israel. (quote from AlJazeera Homepage)

Walls of Shame (part 1)

Walls of Shame (part 2)

Link to AlJazeera site with more info about the series here

Friday, 20 February 2009

Jerusalem Prize- Murakami's Speech (Full Text)

Below is the complete text of Murakami's speech on acceptance of the Jerusalem Prize.

“Jerusalem Prize” Remarks

Good evening. I have come to Jerusalem today as a novelist, which is to say as a professional spinner of lies.
Of course, novelists are not the only ones who tell lies. Politicians do it, too, as we all know. Diplomats and generals tell their own kinds of lies on occasion, as do used car salesmen, butchers and builders. The lies of novelists differ from others, however, in that no one criticizes the novelist as immoral for telling lies. Indeed, the bigger and better his lies and the more ingeniously he creates them, the more he is likely to be praised by the public and the critics. Why should that be?
My answer would be this: namely, that by telling skilful lies--which is to say, by making up fictions that appear to be true--the novelist can bring a truth out to a new place and shine a new light on it. In most cases, it is virtually impossible to grasp a truth in its original form and depict it accurately. This is why we try to grab its tail by luring the truth from its hiding place, transferring it to a fictional location, and replacing it with a fictional form. In order to accomplish this, however, we first have to clarify where the truth-lies within us, within ourselves. This is an important qualification for making up good lies.
Today, however, I have no intention of lying. I will try to be as honest as I can. There are only a few days in the year when I do not engage in telling lies, and today happens to be one of them.
So let me tell you the truth. In Japan a fair number of people advised me not to come here to accept the Jerusalem Prize. Some even warned me they would instigate a boycott of my books if I came. The reason for this, of course, was the fierce fighting that was raging in Gaza. The U.N. reported that more than a thousand people had lost their lives in the blockaded city of Gaza, many of them unarmed citizens--children and old people.
Any number of times after receiving notice of the award, I asked myself whether traveling to Israel at a time like this and accepting a literary prize was the proper thing to do, whether this would create the impression that I supported one side in the conflict, that I endorsed the policies of a nation that chose to unleash its overwhelming military power. Neither, of course, do I wish to see my books subjected to a boycott.
Finally, however, after careful consideration, I made up my mind to come here. One reason for my decision was that all too many people advised me not to do it. Perhaps, like many other novelists, I tend to do the exact opposite of what I am told. If people are telling me-- and especially if they are warning me-- “Don’t go there,” “Don’t do that,” I tend to want to “go there” and “do that”. It’s in my nature, you might say, as a novelist. Novelists are a special breed. They cannot genuinely trust anything they have not seen with their own eyes or touched with their own hands.
And that is why I am here. I chose to come here rather than stay away. I chose to see for myself rather than not to see. I chose to speak to you rather than to say nothing.
Please do allow me to deliver a message, one very personal message. It is something that I always keep in mind while I am writing fiction. I have never gone so far as to write it on a piece of paper and paste it to the wall: rather, it is carved into the wall of my mind, and it goes something like this:
“Between a high, solid wall and an egg that breaks against it, I will always stand on the side of the egg.”
Yes, no matter how right the wall may be and how wrong the egg, I will stand with the egg. Someone else will have to decide what is right and what is wrong; perhaps time or history will do it. But if there were a novelist who, for whatever reason, wrote works standing with the wall, of what value would such works be?
What is the meaning of this metaphor? In some cases, it is all too simple and clear. Bombers and tanks and rockets and white phosphorus shells are that high wall. The eggs are the unarmed civilians who are crushed and burned and shot by them. This is one meaning of the metaphor.
But this is not all. It carries a deeper meaning. Think of it this way. Each of us is, more or less, an egg. Each of us is a unique, irreplaceable soul enclosed in a fragile shell. This is true of me, and it is true of each of you. And each of us, to a greater or lesser degree, is confronting a high, solid wall. The wall has a name: it is “The System.” The System is supposed to protect us, but sometimes it takes on a life of its own, and then it begins to kill us and cause us to kill others--coldly, efficiently, systematically.
I have only one reason to write novels, and that is to bring the dignity of the individual soul to the surface and shine a light upon it. The purpose of a story is to sound an alarm, to keep a light trained on the System in order to prevent it from tangling our souls in its web and demeaning them. I truly believe it is the novelist’s job to keep trying to clarify the uniqueness of each individual soul by writing stories--stories of life and death, stories of love, stories that make people cry and quake with fear and shake with laughter. This is why we go on, day after day, concocting fictions with utter seriousness.
My father passed away last year at the age of ninety. He was a retired teacher and a part-time Buddhist priest. When he was in graduate school in Kyoto, he was drafted into the army and sent to fight in China. As a child born after the war, I used to see him every morning before breakfast offering up long, deeply-felt prayers at the small Buddhist altar in our house. One time I asked him why he did this, and he told me he was praying for the people who had died in the battlefield. He was praying for all the people who died, he said, both ally and enemy alike. Staring at his back as he knelt at the altar, I seemed to feel the shadow of death hovering around him.
My father died, and with him he took his memories, memories that I can never know. But the presence of death that lurked about him remains in my own memory. It is one of the few things I carry on from him, and one of the most important.
I have only one thing I hope to convey to you today. We are all human beings, individuals transcending nationality and race and religion, and we are all fragile eggs faced with a solid wall called The System. To all appearances, we have no hope of winning. The wall is too high, too strong--and too cold. If we have any hope of victory at all, it will have to come from our believing in the utter uniqueness and irreplaceability of our own and others’ souls and from our believing in the warmth we gain by joining souls together.
Take a moment to think about this. Each of us possesses a tangible, living soul. The System has no such thing. We must not allow the System to exploit us. We must not allow the System to take on a life of its own. The System did not make us: we made the System.
That is all I have to say to you.
I am grateful to have been awarded the Jerusalem Prize. I am grateful that my books are being read by people in many parts of the world. And I would like to express my gratitude to the readers in Israel. You are the biggest reason why I am here. And I hope we are sharing something, something very meaningful. And I am glad to have had the opportunity to speak to you here today. Thank you very much.

Thursday, 12 February 2009

Palestine Japan Forum- Open letter to Haruki Murakami 29th January 2009 (English/Japanese)

29th January 2009
Open Letter to
Mr. Haruki Murakami

We ask you to withdraw from the Jerusalem Book Fair and receipt of the "Jerusalem Prize".

We have heard the news that you are going to participate in the 24th Jerusalem International Book Fair from 15th to 20th February, and will be awarded the "Jerusalem Prize". We are terribly shocked.

We ask you to seriously reconsider the social and political significance of a world-famous author such as yourself participating in the book fair, which is fully supported by the Foreign Ministry of Israel and the City of Jerusalem, and receiving the award from the mayor of Jerusalem, when Israel has just taken more than 1300 precious lives, injured more than 5300 people, including 500 who are seriously wounded, and destroyed a tremendous number of lives in Gaza and thus committed a series of war crimes.

What we are particularly concerned about is the purpose of the "Jerusalem Prize", being to praise one's contribution to "individuals' freedom in society". This concept is in total contradiction of Israel's criminal acts such as massacre, collective punishment, blockade policy, construction of settlements and building of the 'separation wall' in East Jerusalem that are effectively eliminating Palestinians' freedom. If you receive the "Jerusalem Prize" it will contribute to a false image of Israel respecting "individuals' freedom in society" which will be portrayed and spread by the media. We fear that the unimaginable devastation of humanity which Israel has inflicted continuously and systematically upon Palestinians will be disregarded and Israel's actions will be accepted Richard Falk, the UN special rapporteur for human rights in the Palestinian territories, has said there was "a prima facie case" that Israel gravely breached the Geneva Conventions during its 22-day campaign in gaza. Citizens' groups in Europe are preparing to bring the persons responsible before an international tribunal. To avoid the recurrence of this massacre, which reminded us of the Warsaw Ghetto, the international community has to acquit the moral obligation, and send the message "Do Not Allow, Condone or Forget Massacre" to defiant Israel. We regard the receipt of the "Jerusalem Prize" as obviously contradicting this cause.

Furthermore, Mr. Nir Barakat, who was elected mayor of Jerusalem in November last year, is supporting the continued expansion of illegal settlements in East Jerusalem, just as his predecessors. Making Jerusalem the capital, the annexation of East Jerusalem and the construction of settlements in East Jerusalem are all in violation of international law, but Israel claims these to be accomplished facts. This results in keeping true peace far away, and not only in Jerusalem but all Palestinians in the occupied territory become victims of the apartheid policy. We would have to say that Palestinians' "individuals' freedom in society" is completely suppressed by Israel. Hence receiving the "Jerusalem Prize" from the mayor of Jerusalem, Mr. Barakat who is in charge of this oppression, contributes towards hiding and vindicating Israel's apartheid policy all the more. We believe that this is not your intention.

Please turn your attention to the Palestinians, who are being denied their freedom and dignity as human beings and resisting by surviving everyday life. We would humbly ask you to consider the effects your receipt of the "Jerusalem Prize" would have, what sort of message the world would receive in this Middle East situation, what kind of propaganda value it could have to Israel and the possibility of aggravating the critical situation Palestinians are facing.

29th January 2009

Palestine Forum Japan











パレスチナの平和を考える会(Palestine Forum Japan)