scandal: past is present conference on settler colonialism in palestine (soas)

20Jan11

Highlights from the H-Net discussion network.

Is this list an academic platform or a mediator for political propaganda and agitation?


… it seems still in accordance with an academic platform, unless I assume one consider’s the list of internationally/academically acknowledged speakers and chairs [both Palestinian and Israeli in fact] non-academic because they dont reiterate a particular political dogma, or because the issues being raised dont echo a colonial logic. That is possible too of course. Thankfully not in London though.


While there is ample room for discussion of the issue of Jewish settlements in the West Bank, with men and women of good will able to discuss the historical context, political significance, cultural and religious impact, economics and other factors relating to past practices and current results, this conference does not seem to provide the kind of arena in which that would be possible. The perpetrator-victim paradigm, which appears to be the conforming ideology of this conference based on the invitation, is hardly an objective starting point for an examination of a conflict of this magnitude and complexity.

The conference is organised neither by “semi-academics” nor by “anti-Israelis.” In fact a number of the academic presenters, all very well-known and well-regarded historians, are Israelis themselves. And to be clear and open, I am a chair of one of the sessions, and I have done legitimate research with and on Palestinians. The conference addresses the legacy and continuation of settler-colonial discourses and practices from the establishment of the Yishuv to the present. SOAS has invited a number of excellent people; and the suggestion that somehow the conference should be “balanced” is absolutely unheard-of (except in the context of Israel/Palestine, of course, when even a single conference that may critically view the history of Israel is required to be balanced by a partisan view that lauds the state and every one of its actions as the most moral on earth).

I love these H-Net discussion networks. Recall the discussion on violence in South Africa bogged down into a succession of personal snipes, in the wake of the Terre’Blanche murder, for instance.



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