Friday, April 21, 2017

Forgetting To Remember: Palestine's 50 Year Occupation vs. The Holocaust Industry

I spent my week off from school looking at art. One of the stops on my tour was the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston where I spent time in peaceful space with ancient representations of the Buddha and various boddhisattvas, balm to my soul.

I also found my way to two special exhibitions of interest. "I must tell you what I saw -- objects of witness and resistance" was a small display of art and artifacts from various bad patches of history including the Armenian Genocide, the Chinese Cultural Revolution, and the trans-Atlantic slave trade.  
Chalk mold, Armenia, 1900
During the Armenian Massacres the Ouzounian family, who owned the mold,
were spared by the Ottomans because the army needed the chalk.

Placed deliberately adjacent was "Memory Unearthed: The Lodz Ghetto Photographs of Henryk Ross" made up of hundreds of rare prints made from once buried (literally) negatives of Jewish life in Poland from 1940-1945.

Gelatin silver print. Collection of the Art Gallery of Ontario. Gift from Archive of Modern Conflict, 2007. © Art Gallery of Ontario, 2017.

Nowhere to be seen: artifacts or photographs of the now fifty year brutal occupation of Palestine, including the long ghettoization of the people of Gaza.

Most of those imprisoned in Gaza are refugees or the descendents of refugees from violent displacement during al Nakba (the Catastrophe) in 1946-7. The MFA makes no mention anywhere in its collection of this highly significant event, a human rights disaster with huge implications for those who endure it and the rest of us.

Screenshot of the MFA search results. Yes, I tried al-Nakba, too.

In case you have never been to the MFA in Boston, let me tell you that it is vast. It would take days to see everything on display. But a search of their database reveals what my visit suggested: virtually every example of art related to Palestine is a colonial artifact of the French and British occupations that paved the way for violent Zionist takeover.

An artifact related to Palestine from the Boston MFA's collection 
Besides a handful of Palestinian films shown at the MFA in the past few years, there is one item in their enormous collection that relates to contemporary Palestine: "Emergency Room, Gaza, 1989" is a photo (image unavailable) by American photographer James Nachtwey.

This is not a coincidence. The enormous "Holocaust industry" that supports important exhibits like the work of Henryk Ross deliberately suppresses any narrative suggesting that the state of Israel engages in ongoing, deliberate crimes against humanity.

Poster of journalist Muhammad al-Qiq held by his wife and child. Al-Qiq was imprisoned by Israel without charges or trial and has been on a hunger strike since February protesting the illegal nature of his detention. Photo credit: Wisam Hashlamoun / APA

This year on April 17 -- Palestinian Prisoners Day -- thousands of those imprisoned by Israel began a mass hunger strike

In a momentous break with its Zionist tendencies, the New York Times even published "Why We Are On Hunger Strike In Israel's Prisons" by prominent intellectual Marwan Barghouti. In it he wrote, "an Israeli court sentenced me to five life sentences and 40 years in prison in a political show trial that was denounced by international observers." 

Bowing to subsequent pressure from Israel, the NYT added an editor's note to its original description of the author as a "Palestinian leader and parliamentarian."

Hunger strike supporters wave banners with Barghouti depicted. Photo credit: ABBAS MOMANI/AFP
Getting the word out is tremendously difficult for Palestinians who are up against well-resourced establishments like the NYT, the MFA and a host of others. 

Just working as a journalist in occupied Palestine is extremely dangerous. According to Charlotte Silver reporting on the news site Electronic Intifada:
Over a dozen more Palestinian journalists and media workers remain behind Israeli bars. Some are being held without charge or trial, like al-Qiq, and others have been hit with incitement charges related to their work.
What to do about the world's vast failure to tell the Palestinian story?

Here's one thing I did. The photographs of the Lodz ghetto resonated particularly for me because I had just finished reading the Definitive Edition of Anne Frank's Diary of a Young Girl. It is definitive because editors have restored about 30% of the material which was left out by Anne's father when he submitted the diary for publication. Much of what would interest a young person had been removed -- Anne's reflections on her emerging awareness of sexuality, and her reports on the struggle to separate from her parents and achieve autonomy.

I mentioned the book to a friend who said her teenage granddaughter would probably like to read it. So, I also recommended a coming of age novel that would make a worthy companion in detailing how a young person copes with the cruelties of occupation, displacement and human rights abuses visited on people she loves: The Shepherd's Grand-daughter by Anne Laurel Carter. 

I would have preferred to recommend a Palestinian author but I think the reader is a bit young for The Secret Life of Saeed the Pessoptimist by Emile Habiby. 

I was looking for a parallel story to Anne Frank's. I did not know at the time that Carter's honest depiction of the growth of settlements in occupied Palestine has earned several awards but also has drawn the wrath of Zionists who lobbied in Canada to have it withdrawn from the recommended reading lists of schools calling it "anti-Israeli propaganda."

So that's what Palestinians and those who seek to share some truth about Palestine are up against. Why not order a copy, read it, and share it with a young friend?

Then get busy with your boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) efforts before 2,000 Palestinian prisoners starve to death.

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