Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘“Culture and imperialism”

“Culture et resistance” by Edward W. Said

(Written in April 18, 2008)

Culture and resistance is an interview conducted by David Barsamian with late Edward Said before the latter died of an incurable cancer.

Every page needs a review and much pondering.  Edward  is indeed said to be the narrator or the storyteller “hakawati” of the Palestinian cause because he manages to give a clever twist to the story in his books and conferences.

The book shows the geographic maps of how the Palestinian State has been transformed and subdivided since the British mandate that ended in 1947; a slicing scheme that the USA and European press never show.

There are maps of 1920, 1947, 1949, the Oslo II of 1995, the Wye Plantation of 1998, the Charm el-Cheikh of 1999, the Camp David map including Jerusalem, the Taba I and Taba II, the two Sharon’s plans of 2001, including Jerusalem.

No wonder that these maps are never displayed because these Swiss cheese subdivisions and the implantation of Jewish colonies would speak louder than any article.

Edward Said is an American Palestinian born in West Jerusalem  in 1935.

He pursued his schooling in Cairo before obtaining his Masters’ in Princeton and his PhD in Harvard.  He has been a tenured faculty member and professor of literature at Columbia University.

Professor Said suffered from cancer for nine years and his physician from India managed to extend his life for five years.  During his painful ailment, Edward never stopped teaching, writing and accepting to speak in conferences.

Edward Said was saying that you don’t find a single Arab university student studying about Africa, Latin America, or Japan; it is a sign of our delinquency, current cultural weakness, and our intellectual torpor.

What he is trying to say openly is that we need to change our attitude, to free our mental power from the archaic chains in order to be treated by the rest of the world as equals.

Professor Said plays the piano and is an accomplished connoisseur of classical music; he organized an evening with Daniel Barenboim, the famous pianist and chef of orchestra, in the Palestinian university of Beir Zeit.

This Beir Zeit university was closed for 4 years by Israel during the first Palestinian “Intifada” in 1996 when the Palestinians holding Israeli passport demonstrated against the social injustices; they were supported by all the other Palestinians as one people. The Indian Zubin Mehta, Israel’s Philharmonic chief orchestra, attended this cultural and musical event among the Palestinians.

The Arabs have been too long on the defensive, too complacent, paralyzed in their pain and bitterness.

Our lack of democracy in our institutions is the result of our lack of the citizenship spirit that permit tyranny, military plots, corruption, regimes of secret police, and the meddling of imperialist States in our affairs.

The only way to changing a situation is to get on with it, to start reading, interrogating, and meeting with the “Others” so that to starting knocking down the walls of the prisons we have incarcerated ourselves within.

Edward Said mentioned that Rabin, Israeli PM, said before the Oslo negotiations with the PLO that Israel wanted to get relieved from the services offered to the heavily populated areas in Palestine like Gaza and Ramallah.

Thus, the policing and health services and schools in the so-called areas under the PLO semi-autonomy that represented 22% of what Israel conquered in 1967 in Cis-Jordan were to be catered for by authority of Arafat.

Israel had no intention on negotiating the implanted colonies, the return of East Jerusalem or even relinquishing its rights for checking the entrances and exits at the borders with Jordan and Egypt.

Every Palestinian minister, deputy, and even Arafat had to obtain a permit to exit and enter Israel.  At the first opportunity, Israel destroyed the tiny airport in Gaza and whatever infrastructures that were built by European financing.

So far, since the creation of the Israeli State, the successive US administrations have donated over 135 billion of actual dollars to the State of Israel in financial and military aids.

The US vetoed every UN resolution condemning Israel’s colonial, apartheid, and racist activities.

The Israelis are conscious of the existence and presence of the Palestinians among them since they work in their hotels, in construction and drive taxis even though the Zionist movement has propagated the notion that they inhabited a desert land that was roamed by nomads.

Since 2004, Israel built the 900 miles of the Wall of Shame dividing the so-called 1967 borders with Jordan, and Israel established also hundreds of check points all over the West Bank.

Currently, most Israelis play the game of ignoring the presence of Palestinians living across town from them or across the wall: they are ashamed of this apartheid situation.

The danger to Israel is that:

1. the US Zionists sincerely do not believe that Palestinians exist;

2. that the Palestinian people is an abstraction in their imagination and thus,

3. they encourage and feel free to exert undue pressures on the Israelis to exercise the ultimate in anti-Semitism, racism and apartheid policies on the “insignificant” and lower status indigents.

The newer generations of Palestinians and Arabs have such disdain for the generations that permitted the creation of Israel that they refuse to draw any experience, knowledge and accumulated realizations from the previous generations; they are reduced to reinventing the wheel.

We do have a serious problem of relaying the previous achievements or analyzing profoundly our previous mistakes.

Professor Said is a frequent lecturer in conferences at various universities and he realized that the students and people in the USA and England are perfectly aware of the Palestinian issues and Zionists cruelty and racism.

What the Palestinian Authorities and Arab governments have to start doing is communicating with the Israeli people and the masses in the world.

Israel has already occupied the entire Jordan Valley which would prevent any link for any prospective Palestinian State to join directly any Arab country.

Since Palestine is tiny and Israel is not about to offer full self autonomy to a Palestinian State then Edward Said vision was a Federal State of Palestinians and Jews in the whole of Palestine as two people living together and sharing in the public institutions. Before this arrangement can take hold it was necessary that the Palestinians enjoy the recognition of a State of their own to administer and negotiate at parity for further arrangement that is more suited for reality.

The writer Milan Kundera said:

The struggle of man against the authority is the struggle of memory to forget (the injustices).”

Many Palestinians still hang on to bits and pieces of ancestors’ belonging in order never to forget their origins and the injustices forced upon them.

Keeping the same dialect and intonations of the grandfathers and grandmothers from generations to generations is one of the most powerful tools for memory rejuvenation.

Israel has many times invaded the cultural and archival locations of Palestinian institutions such as the Cultural Center of Khalil Sakakini in Ramallah and abroad like in Beirut, in order to steal and destroy any historical archives: Israel carried the Palestinian computers and their contents and destroyed the hard disks and the valuable manuscripts.

In his “Prison colony”, Kafka describes a system that functions 24 hours a day meant to break the will of any person so that he lose the drive to live.

Israel has instituted this monster system in the everyday life of a Palestinian, going to school, to work, to the market, to the hospital, control posts and presentation of identity cards.

Palestinians die before reaching the emergency entrance, schools are frequently closed, houses demolished, agricultural lands taken and the imprisonment of youth is common occurrence for no valid justifications. Gaza is one huge prison fenced by electrical barb wires.

The US media have the tendency to cut off persons expounding on the Palestinians’ problems and suffering.

The Zionist Michael Walzer cut off Said during a conference saying:

“It is best to stop talking about the past; just state your argument and let us move on.  The Palestinians should cease to behave as victims and start taking stock of their present.  The Palestinians have to ponder on the wounds they inflicted on one  aother”.

A listener, Hilda Silverstein, shouted at Michael Walzer and said: “How dare you ask a Palestinian not speak on his past?  Have you Jews stopped reminding the world of the holocaust and the miseries of the Jews in Europe?

Edward Said didn’t try to find balance among the different and multiple discords and lines of thinking in life but opted instead to live the differences. It is the discords and dissonances that teach us harmony and unity.

Lately Said was in hurry to deliver what he had to say


1. Edward Said wrote “The Orientalist“, “Culture and imperialism”, “Parallels and paradoxes”, “Freud and the extra-European world“, “The question of Palestine“, “Covering Islam“, “Representations of the intellectual“, “Reflections on exile and other essays”, “The end of the peace process” and finally his memoirs “Against traffic“.

2. David Barsamian, an Armenian by origin, is the founder of Alternative Radio (AR) at Boulder, Colorado. AR emits weekly and is diffused to the USA, Canada, Europe, South Africa, New Zealand, Australia and Jamaica.

Ralph Nader said that AR is a beam of light in the darkness of the media because it let us hear suggestions that reinforce our democracy.




May 2023

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