A child plays by the fenced-in house of al-Ghirayim family between the Jewish settlement of Givon Hahadasha and the West Bank village of Beit Ijza, north of Jerusalem, Dec. 11, 2016. Mick Tsikas/AAP/PA Images. All rights reserved.My latest encounter with international Zionism was in Paris, March 10, following the screening of the documentary film “Derrière les Fronts” at Cinema 3 Luxembourg.
I was there to participate in the debate that followed the screening as I appear prominently in the film itself. But immediately after one of the spectators asked a genuine and sincere question about the psychopathologies that I encounter as a clinician in Palestine, a friend of Israel took the microphone to occupy the occasion with a very long, hateful, and chauvinistic speech about “Palestinian paranoia” and “the Arab’s natural violence and racism” – until finally the audience could no longer tolerate his diatribe and a loud collective outcry arose demanding he let someone else speak.
This person’s name, gender, color, religion and appearance are less important than his role, which is to arrive at every possible time and place and to any activity that gives recognition to Palestinians.
I encountered “him” countless times in the past – when I spoke, as a student, at Saint Peter’s University in New York years ago; when I spoke among professionals at the “Thinking Space” special event of The Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust in London after the 2014 Gaza war, and now at a cinema in Paris.
His role is to occupy the time devoted to public debate in order to prevent a meaningful discussion from taking place; to intimidate the speakers and the audience by his aggressive and accusing attitude, and to make use of the occasion to defame and threaten the speakers and the people responsible for organizing the activity giving recognition to the Palestinian experience.
At this moment, we see Israel is hastily cooking up new laws to criminalize and punish individuals involved in both BDS and in exposing Israel’s shameful illegal actions.
Within just the past few days, Israel has deported Hugh Lanning, the Chairman of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, for his involvement in criticizing Israel; and Kahlil Tufkaji, the Director of the Palestinian Center for Human Rights and an expert in mapping and settlement, has also been arrested.
Meanwhile, Israel’s friends in Europe and the USA are acting ‘more royal than the king,’ with regards to Palestinians and international friends of Palestinians, marking them, weaving lies to smear their reputations and attacking them through their means of livelihood.
Everywhere the mighty truncheon of Israel is swayed to threaten all who dare criticize the occupation or mobilize nonviolent action to address human rights abuses in Palestine.
I have friends who have been receiving threats to their lives for their involvement in supporting Palestinian rights. One must wonder what recourse is left for Palestinians when diplomacy fails and nonviolent action is criminalized – to ask this question is not to encourage violence but to observe the way in which supporters of Zionism, through systematically extinguishing all possible avenues of non-violent public response, are themselves implicated in the episodes of violence that follow.
In this context, the monopolizer of the microphone in the cinema has made the deliberate false claim that the screening of this film had been organized in the framework of the "Israel-Apartheid" week. He makes the absurd accusation that both I and the director of the film are agents of terrorism – and by so doing, endangering our careers, our personal freedom, and our physical safety. He further asserts the colossal inflammatory falsehood that I identify Israeli civilians as legitimate targets of armed resistance!
Finally, he admits that he finds the film “incomprehensible.” Maybe because in his conscious mind the well-worn untruth remains: the Palestinians “don’t exist – where are the Palestinians?”
But the film gives life and an undeniable presence to the Palestinians in their beautiful diversity: the Archbishop Atallah Hanna, the hunger-striking detainee Sheikh Khader Adnan, the director of a queer organization Aswat - Ghadir AlShafie, a university professor Dr. Abaher Al Saqqa, an additional member of a university faculty, and the x-prisoner academic Rula Abu Dahho, and Deema Zallooum, the young mother who saved her child from being kidnapped by settlers.
All of these Palestinians join me in conveying a unified message: we will continue to share our variant testimonies about the occupation, no matter what power is used to break the tissues of Palestinian solidarity. We will strengthen our networking with the supporters of justice and extend our hands to the friends of Palestine.
This piece was first published on Middle East Monitor on 16 March 2017.