Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, July 2009, pages 41-42

Southern California Chronicle

Scholar David Wesley Reveals Israel’s State Practices and Zionist Images in Ph.D. Text

By Pat and Samir Twair

  • LEFT PHOTO: Anil Kapoor and Nancy Utley received awards for “Slumdog Millionaire.” RIGHT PHOTO: MPAC Foundation chairman Allen Othman presents an award to “Democracy Now!” co-founder and host Amy Goodman (Staff photo S. Twair).

DAVID WESLEY and his wife, Elana, were born in the U.S. and immigrated in 1955 to Israel, where he worked in agriculture and kibbutz management. Over the years, the idealistic Wesley became aware of Palestinian land expropriation and expulsion while getting to know the Arab fruit pickers who once owned the land they worked on.

At age 45, Wesley returned to college. He earned a bachelor’s degree in economics in 1981 and eventually, in 2002, received a Ph.D. from Tel Aviv University. His doctoral research entailed a decade of research into how Arab towns in northern Galilee interact with their Jewish neighbors and government officials.

Under the title “State Practices and Zionist Images: Shaping Economic Development in Arab Towns in Israel,” his dissertation has been published in paperback (and is available from the AET Book Club), and Wesley and his wife have appeared in 25 U.S. cities this spring to discuss his project. They live in a mixed Arab and Jewish neighborhood in Jaffa, where they translate academic Hebrew texts into English.

In an April 20 talk sponsored by UCLA’s Center for Near Eastern Studies, Wesley called upon Israel to shift from its conventional mind set and look for models more advantageous to Arab citizens in allowing them to become equal partners with Jews in development projects.

Wesley discussed two images of Zionist discourse: Arab territorial threat and Arab traditionalism.

In the first example, he explained, Zionists feared the expansion of Arab towns due to population growth. In the upper Galilee, Israel expropriated Arab land to establish Jewish centers that would drive a wedge between Arab communities.

Using tradition as an excuse, Zionists said Arab residents of Nazareth should rely on tourism, whereas the new Jewish communities needed more government funds to develop high tech industrial parks. Upper (Jewish) Nazareth was listed as Priority A and was charged 31 percent of the going rate for its industrial park land, while the Arabs of Kufur Kannah were obliged to pay 51 percent of the free market price for their land.

By the close of the 1990s, Wesley said, there were 14 large Jewish industrial parks covering 1,200 acres, while the Arabs had 14 industrial parks on 277 acres.

Despite the inequities, Wesley is optimistic. The Palestinians do not accept land expropriation and second class citizenship passively, he noted. They go to the court, and avail themselves of associations like Sikkuy which call for the advancement of civic equality in Israel.

Code Pink-NLG Report

  • National Lawyers Guild attorney Reem Salahi (l) and Susan Adelman of Code Pink (Staff photo S. Twair).

“Israel hasn’t processed the Holocaust.” That’s what a hijab-wearing Palestinian feminist told Susan Adelman when she entered Gaza March 8 as part of a Code Pink delegation of 60 activists bringing aid baskets to Palestinian mothers.

“It blew my mind,” stated Adelman at an April 1 program in the Levantine Cultural Center. “A Palestinian made me comprehend that Jews haven’t fully digested the trauma of the Holocaust. Israel happened right after World War II and instead of saying ”˜Never Again,’ they should’ve said ”˜Never Again Genocide Against Anyone.’”

Also sharing the podium with Adelman was barrister Reem Salahi, who was part of a National Lawyers Guild investigating team which entered Gaza shortly after Israel’s three-week bombardment of Gaza to search for evidence of war crimes.

Israel did not distinguish between belligerents and civilians, said Salahi. She cited the case of Khaled Abed Rabu, who on Jan. 7 exited his home with his wife, elderly mother and three daughters. The family held four white flags as Israeli soldiers pointed their guns at them for 10 minutes before shooting the daughters, aged 2, 4, and 7 years.

Israel forced Palestinians to be human shields, as in the case of one Gazan who was marched in front of IDF troops for four days during which they shot from behind him and did not feed him. Israel will try to disqualify testimony of UNWRA’s director John Ging as being pro-Hamas, it was pointed out.

Palestine Inside Out

  • (L-r): Dr. Sondra Hale, author Saree Makdisi, U.N. Rappoteur Richard Falk and Dr. David Myers (Staff photo S. Twair).

UCLA Professor Saree Makdisi’s 2008 book, Palestine Inside Out: An Everyday Occupation (available from the AETBook Club), was critiqued by David Myers and Richard Falk at an April 23 program sponsored by UCLA’s Center for Near Eastern Studies in historic Royce Hall.

According to Myers, who is director of UCLA’s Center for Jewish Studies, Makdisi’s book fails to mention Israeli dissidents against Palestinian expulsion in 1948 such as Moshe Sharett. Myers was most critical of Makdisi’s call for a single binational state.

“Israel wants separation, not integration,” stated Myers. “Polls show 59 percent of Palestinians and 66 percent of Jews do not want a single state.“

Asked Falk, the United Nations special rapporteur on human rights in the Palestinian territories and visiting professor at University of California, Santa Barbara: “If Israel was sincere about two states, why has it been building settlements on the West Bank? One state is unattainable. Two states are unattainable.”

Falk went on to say the Palestinians are winning the legitimacy war. “Ever since Israel’s [Dec. 27-Jan. 18] assault on Gaza, the Palestinians have become the successors of the anti-apartheid movement,” he averred.

“Being the military superior doesn’t mean the powerful side wins a war—look at Vietnam. Military prowess isn’t decisive in how a conflict is resolved,” Falk noted.

Makdisi responded that a two-state solution is impractical because the half million settler population on the West Bank will double within the next decade. The South African anti-apartheid battle for legitimacy is an important lesson, he added. Britain and the U.S. were opposed to black South African self-determination, but worldwide support from the masses prevailed.

“Eventually,” Makdisi concluded, “Israel will be held accountable.”

Palm Sunday Peace Parade

  • Palm Sunday peace activists call for no more wars (Staff photo S. Twair).

There were plenty of lavender and orange balloons, little girls in their Easter finery, strumming guitarists and lots of dogs on leashes for a Palm Sunday celebration April 5 in Pasadena’s Paseo Colorado mall.

For the seventh year, Pasadena peace proponents carried palm fronds and banners after a drumming prelude at the Messiah Lutheran Church. More than 142 participants carried signs reading “Jesus Rode a Donkey Not a War Horse” as they walked several blocks to the upscale mall.

Gospel and folk singers were accompanied by guitarists and drummers until Pastor Bert Newton spoke, reminding his listeners that Jesus started with small alternative communities. “Now its up to marginal groups like us,” he said, “to voice a litany of resistance to violence and protest the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.” 

Pat and Samir Twair are free-lance journalists based in Los Angeles.


Celebrities Star at MPAC Media Awards Gala

More than 400 supporters turned out April 25 at the Los Angeles Bonaventure Hotel for the 18th annual Media Awards dinner of the Muslim Public Affairs Council Foundation. “Recognizing Voices of Courage and Conscience” was the theme of the annual program honoring media figures who portray Muslims in a positive light.

Amy Goodman, who co-founded her hard-hitting “Democracy Now!” news show in 1996, warned that corporations “who have nothing to tell and everything to sell,” portray the independent media as dangerous. “Experts know the war in Afghanistan is unwinnable, but they do not say so,” stated the news maven.

“We need a media that covers power, and not reporters who cover up power,” Goodman said in accepting her award. “”˜We will not be silent’ should be the media’s Hippocratic oath,” she concluded.

Bollywood star Anil Kapoor, who played the game show host in “Slumdog Millionaire,” and Fox Searchlight Pictures chief operating officer Nancy Utley also were presented awards by Allen Othman, MPAC Foundation chairman.

Kapoor and Utley were praised for their roles in supporting the Academy Award-winning independent film that tells the story of two young Indian Muslim orphans, Jamal and Latika, who transcend dire adversities in Mumbai.

Steven Dean Moore, animation director of “The Simpsons,” received an award for the “Mypods and Broomsticks” episode in which Homer Simpson becomes friends with a Muslim boy from Jordan.

Playwright Wajahat Ali was named 2009 “Emerging Muslim artist” for his play, “The Domestic Crusaders,” which will premiere in New York City on Sept. 11. The evening was dedicated to the legacy of Dr. Hassan Hathout who died on April 25 (see p. 72).