June 15, 2010
With Israel, as ever, disproportionately in the news one activist goes to their first anti-Israel event and describes the experience:
“I attended the talk at Amnesty last Thursday evening for the book launch of Against the Wall: The art of resistance in Palestine. The book is a collection of photos of the artwork on Israel’s security fence.
Of many controversial points the book’s author, William Parry, showed a photo of a queue of Palestinians at a checkpoint near Bethlehem.
‘People are dying at checkpoints’, he then claimed.
The impression was of Palestinians dropping like flies at checkpoints from the trauma of waiting in line.
We then listened to two other speakers, one an artist and another, Jamal Juma speaking live on web cam from the West Bank. Juma is from “Stop the Wall” Campaign.
The talks were totally devoid of any smidgen of context as to what is really going on and why the security fence was built in the first place.
At the Q&A I had no intention of speaking out at all. I was there only to observe.
But then I thought back to my visit to Poland and how I had made a vow on the last day spent in Auschwitz never to walk in fear or shame around those who wish for our demise.
I also thought of all the wonderful Israeli friends and family I have here who have done nothing to deserve the blind hatred in this room. Am I going to sit here in silence, I asked myself?
When I was finally handed the microphone I repeated back to the author his statement about people dying at checkpoints and I asked if he had the statistics to back up his statement?
The panel looked blankly at each other and mumbled about statistics on some UN page.
I then asked whether we are talking one a day, one a week, one a month.
They looked baffled and asked Jamal on the live web cam.
Jamal didn’t seem to know either.
I then asked about the cause of deaths.
Up until this point they thought I was asking out of concern for this imaginary pile of corpses at checkpoints.
Suddenly the artist pointed his finger at me and asked whether I was daring to suggest it’s not terrible what’s going on there: ‘I think we all agree in this room it’s terrible.’
There was a rapture of applause from the audience who all looked at me in disgust whilst furiously shaking their heads in disbelief.
I shouted: ‘Yes, it’s terrible but he (William Parry) said they’re dying, so I’m asking about the deaths.’
How stupid of me to demand evidence. Facts? Evidence? How boring.”