Thursday, December 11, 2008
Poet Remi Kanazi on You Tube/Thinking about Self-Censorship
Remi Kanazi, poet and editor of the recent Poets for Palestine anthology, here performs two poems, the second of which begins with a lament that the issue of Palestine is often taken off the agenda of anti-war rallies, for fear of disintegrating the peace movement.
In my investigations of peace movement files for Peace Action at Swarthmore College, I found direct evidence of this. A letter sent from the Arab-American Institute, dated May 1991, requested Peace Action (SANE) to “review and endorse the enclosed working paper, ‘New Thinking for Israeli-Palestinian Peace.’” The letter itself simply states what would become a fairly standard “strategic tradeoff in which Israeli would obtain diplomatic recognition, economic cooperation, and security guarantees in return for withdrawing from the Occupied Territories.” Handwritten in the upper left hand corner is the following: “The main problem is the sponsor/author. It is a good proposal but will not be accepted by the Jewish community unless it is on another letterhead.” How disturbing, that a progressive peace group would refuse to sign onto something from an Arab American progressive group (AAI) because it might not “be accepted by the Jewish community” SIMPLY BECAUSE OF THE SPONSOR! It fails to give "the Jewish community" (as if it were a monolith) the possibility of responding differently. I would hope that peace groups would not engage so swiftly in acts of self-censorship.