I’m swamped with work today and have no childcare, so my attention is split a thousand ways. Still, I woke up early this morning with yesterday’s meeting and Q&A with Max Blumenthal at Portcullis House on my mind. Blumenthal’s presentation focused mostly on the information he delivered at last week’s Russell Tribunal in Brussels on the events he’d observed and people he talked to in Gaza during Operation Sturdy Edge. (You might know it as ‘Protective Edge’ but now that we’ve discovered it was rebranded to suit Western prejudices I’ll revert to the Hebrew, thanks).

Although I’d watched the video of his testimony and had followed the events he described closely at the time, Blumenthal’s presentation was riveting. Of course, he’s smart, extremely articulate, and synthesises vivid detail and political context with remarkable skill. But it was the material that gripped me, and I confess that when he described once again the young Palestinian who was stripped naked and made to stand in the window of his flat acting as a human shield (yes) for the IDF sniper who stood behind him shooting the Palestinian’s neighbours from over his shoulder, the sense of horror and despair almost overwhelmed me. At the end of the discussion, Blumenthal mentioned that the BBC had retracted a planned interview, and at that point it was clear why. God forbid that a regular listener might recognise the vast disparity between the events Blumenthal witnessed and the toxic Israeli political environment against which they were set, and the way the BBC had presented that same information.

Several people who attended expressed frustration about what ‘ordinary people’ can do in the face of a whitewash by the mainstream media and a moral vacuum from our government on these appalling events, not to mention the mounting pile of injustices that have occurred since the ‘ceasefire’ began at the end of August. There’s BDS, of course, which I wholeheartedly support. And I’ve watched with sheer delight the shenanigans of the ‘block the boat’ activists on the West Coast of Canada and the US, who’ve successfully stopped several container ships belonging to Zim, an Israeli shipping company, from entering the port and unloading their goods, with the support of local dock workers.

I’d add to these activities the critical role for all of us in supporting Palestinian cultural output, from attending literature and film festivals to defending exhibition spaces that attempt to exhibit work by Palestinian artists, sometimes under great pressure not to do so (a recent City Hall exhibition in my hometown of Ottawa, Canada comes to mind). Sure, culture is enriching and going to the cinema is sometimes fun. But I’ve said here before and Max Blumenthal’s presentation reminded me yet again of how dehumanisation is such an essential tool of oppression. It renders death an afterthought rather than an event, let alone an atrocity. From the beginning, a key element of the Zioinist narrative is that ‘they’ are like ‘us’: democratic, free thinking, humanist. By contrast, the Palestinians are tribal, brutish, bloodthirsty. But like all creative expression, Palestinian cultural output affirms both humanity and transcendence. As such it is very dangerous indeed, and that’s precisely why we need it.

Here’s what the mainstream media didn’t call news today:

1. Israeli forces detain 3 children in East Jerusalem

Three children aged 9, 10 and 11 were arrested for stone throwing in the Silwa neighbourhood of Jerusalem. This is the neighbourhood where Israeli settlers accompanied by Israeli soldiers have been waking up Palestinian families in the middle of the night over the past few days, and throwing them out of their beds so that they can occupy their homes. In this context, I’m sure you can see why the stone-throwing would be a major issue.

2. Israel teargases scores of West Bank Palestinians

Israeli forces fired stun grenades and teargas to disperse Palestinians protesting the construction of Jewish-only settlements on Palestinian land and Israel’s “separation wall”. Both the settlements and the ‘separation wall’ have been ruled illegal under international law.

3. Israel prevents Palestinians from visiting church in destroyed village

Israeli occupation authorities yet again attempted to intimidate Palestinian activists in the Galilee village of Kufr Birim by posting signs on two buildings in the destroyed village on Friday, 3 October. The Israel Lands Administration posted signs on the walls of the village’s historical church and the communal kitchen declaring that entrance to each of the buildings is forbidden.

4. Hebrew University cracks down on Palestinian demos

The Hebrew University in Jerusalem has referred 12 Palestinian students to “obedience committees” for organizing student demonstrations throughout the year, the students’ movement said. Welcome to democracy, folks!

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