palestinians

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Sonja Karkar of Australians for Palestine writes about Michael Leunig’s article, defending his cartoon, “First they came for the Palestinians …” Leunig’s article also appears below. To see the actual cartoon itself click here.

When a celebrated Australian like Michael Leunig speaks so eloquently and sensitively about the appalling situation of the Palestinian people, it does give many people pause to consider their own attitudes, long skewed against the Palestinians by decades of demonising propaganda.  

Normally a man of few words, Leunig always finds a way of paring down the issues to their core to touch what is human in us.  Today though he gave us more:  today he explained why he cannot be silent in the face of oppression and the systematic destruction of one society by another.  He may have been speaking about his moral duty as a cartoonist, but all people of conscience would have to ask themselves why they have neglected to speak in defence of a people so long maligned and so mercilessly denied justice.  It will be the

beginning of the end for those perpetrating the injustices once people discover the human in themselves and refuse to quaver before the worn and age-old catch cries intended to savage reputations and ambitions and focus instead, as Leunig says, “on the plight of the subjugated, the ones most neglected, severely deprived and cruelly afflicted.”   

Sonja Karkar, Editor of australiansforpalestine.com…

Michael Leunig

Michael Leunig

Link to the original article in ‘The Melbourne Age’: www.theage.com……

Just a cartoonist with a moral duty to speak

by Michael Leunig

SEVERAL years ago I was invited to speak at Melbourne’s Jewish Museum on the subject of ”The cartoonist as society’s conscience”. I gladly accepted but within a week was informed by the museum that the invitation had been withdrawn because of my views on Israel. Although I had been somewhat critical of aggressive Israeli government policies I had never publicly outlined my broad views on Israel and was puzzled by the cancellation and bemused by the gross irony of being excluded from a discussion about conscience because I had acted with conscience in my work.

Upon reflection I wondered if an internal philosophical disagreement lay behind this peculiar cancellation. Whatever, a door had been closed to me.

I relate this tale as a backdrop to more recent circumstances in which it has been publicly inferred that I am anti-Semitic because of a cartoon I created expressing sad dismay at the plight and suffering of the Palestinians in the recent bombardment of Gaza.

As a cartoonist I am not interested in defending the dominant, the powerful, the well-resourced and the well-armed because such groups are usually not in need of advocacy, moral support or sympathetic understanding; they have already organised sufficient publicity for themselves and prosecute their points of view with great efficiency.

The work of the artist is to express what is repressed or even to speak the unspoken grief of society. And the cartoonist’s task is not so much to be balanced as to give balance, particularly in situations of disproportionate power relationships such as we see in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It is a healthy tradition dating back to the court jester and beyond: to be the dissenting protesting voice that speaks when others cannot or will not.

My recent cartoon (“First they came for the Palestinians … “) was a lament based on the famous lines attributed to Pastor Martin Niemoller that neatly highlight the way apathetic or frightened silence in the face of injustice is a dereliction of moral duty. It is interesting to note that Niemoller had been an active Nazi supporter but a decade after the war became a pacifist.

Although greatly valued in contemporary Jewish culture, the poem’s message is universal and eternal; it could apply to any oppressed group, including the Palestinians who, even with their relatively feeble rockets, are so obviously oppressed.

In spite of all the highly organised rhetoric justifying Israel’s actions, the intuitive, heartfelt moral shape of the situation is becoming clearer and more obvious to the world the longer the conflict goes on. When all is said and done, it looks like the Palestinians have been massively robbed and abused, and are engaged in a desperate struggle for survival and liberation.

Israel on the other hand would appear to be conducting an imperialistic campaign of oppression supported and substantially armed by the most powerful nation on earth. My cartoonist’s duty and conscience compel me to focus on the plight of the subjugated, the ones most neglected, severely deprived and cruelly afflicted.

I am not against Israel but I am opposed to what I regard as its self-defeating, self-corrupting militarist policy, which is not only excessively homicidal and traumatising but sows the seeds of irreversible hatred and can never bring a lasting peace. One expects more from a prosperous democratic country. It’s as if this young nation Israel has not yet come to maturity; so delinquent, irresponsible and unwise are its actions.

I sense that the Jewish community in this country is itself increasingly divided on the question. I also suspect that the more aggressive Israel supporters fear this moral unease and quiet doubt in their community and are angered by any cartoons or commentary that might encourage such doubt. In spite of what the bullies say, I suspect they are not really upset by any “anti-Semitism” in my cartoons (there is none) but by the possible impact of a cartoon on the doubters. The better the cartoon, the more it must be discredited. What cheaper way to discredit than the toxic smear of anti-Semitism.

I am not sure whether it is legal to publicly call someone an anti-Semite without evidence but it certainly feels like hate talk to me, as well as a damaging thing to say about someone who does not agree with you. That’s often why it is said of course.

At my advanced age, I know I am not an anti-Semite, not even vaguely or remotely, but others would seem to know better as false accusers always do.

If only there was some sort of test I could sit for to clarify the situation, but there is no science to this obsessive and vapid denunciation.

It’s cynical, it’s bullying and it’s lazy. Stupidly, it’s also a case of the boys who cry wolf.

Over the years it has been implied that I am “a second degree anti-Semite”, “a new-world anti-Semite” and a “latent anti-Semite” as well as a simple old-fashioned common or garden anti-Semite. I now learn to my amazement that to make comparisons between Israeli policy and any Nazi behaviour is in itself an anti-Semitic act. So much for free speech. I say all nations that throw their military weight around, occupying neighbouring lands and treating the residents with callous and humiliating disregard are already sliding towards the dark possibilities in human nature.

My cartoons have also had me labelled a misogynist, a blasphemer, a homophobe, a royalist, a misanthrope and a traitor, to name but a few. I would sum it all up by saying: I am a cartoonist.

Michael Leunig is an Age cartoonist.

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Father Roy writes: The Palestinians are seeking a final status solution to the conflict. Israel’s Negotiating Strategies are well-known. Saeb Erekat has emphasized that the Palestinian leadership has allotted six months for the initiative to succeed.   Peace, Roy 

Palestinians to launch 6-month initiative to restart talks with Israel

Chief negotiator Saeb Erekat says initiative, to be launched next month in cooperation with international officials, conditioned on demand to release prisoners, call to halt settlement construction.

Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said Monday that the Palestinian Authority plans to launch a new initiative to renew negotiations with Israel, which would include the release of prisoners and a halt to settlement construction.

Speaking on Ramallah-based Voice of Palestine radio, Erekat said that he will be initiating the move in cooperation with international officials next month, in an effort to renew talks with Israel over a final status solution.

Erekat said the initiative includes the resumption of negotiations from where they were left off, with an insistence on ending the occupation. Erekat emphasized that the Palestinian leadership has allotted solely six months for the initiative.

After the UN General Assembly’s vote to recognize Palestine as a non-member observer state last month, Israel immediately announced that in response for what it deemed the “unilateral” move, it will move ahead with the construction of 3,000 new homes in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, as well as with plans to build in the contested E-1 corridor, which links Jerusalem and the settlement of Ma’aleh Adumim.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas called the settlement construction plans, specifically those in E-1, a “red line.”

Israel and European states have been embroiled in an unprecedented diplomatic crisis since the plans were announced. Several European countries, including Britain, Germany and France, have been putting heavy diplomatic pressure on Israel to reverse its decision and are considering diplomatic steps against it.

The Obama Administration has also condemned the move. “We reiterate our long-standing opposition to Israeli settlement activity and East Jerusalem construction,” White House press secretary Jay Carney told reporters last week.

Negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians have been at a stalemate since 2010.

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Archbishop Fouad Twal

Archbishop Fouad Twal

source: al-bushra-updates.blogspot.com……

Patriarch Twal: United Nations Decision Will Restore Credibility to Palestinian Government

Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem Expresses Joy Regarding Vote in UN

JERUSALEM, NOV. 30, 2012 (Zenit.org…).- His Beatitude Fouad Twal, Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem expressed his joy upon hearing the news of the United Nations General Assembly approving the recognition of Palestine as a non-member State observer.

“For once the international community and the leaders of the nations had the courage not to be influenced by the pressures and to decide in conscience, without calculation. I am grateful and happy for this freedom,” Patriarch Twal said in an interview with Fides Agency.

“It is a joy that I share with all Palestinians, Christians and Muslims, and that soon I will express on behalf of our Christian communities to President [Mahmoud Abbas], as soon as he gets back.”

Patriarch Twal emphasized the overwhelming support of nations who voted in favor of the Palestinian request (138 Countries in favor, 9 against, 41 abstentions), while positively evaluating the abstention of the German government. “The fact that Germany did not say no means a lot,” observed the Patriarch.

The Latin Patriarch also expressed his hope that with time, the international community will see that the step taken at the UN has advantages for Israel. “It opens the possibility of returning to deal with a moderate and legitimized government. I know these people: there is no person more reasonable than [Mahmoud Abbas] to return to the path of a final settlement of the Arab-Israeli conflict,” he said.

In recent years, he continued, “with a reckless choice, a lot was done to undermine his authority. Now he will come back from New York with the moral relieved: can talk like a real President, the President of a State.”

Highlighting the Holy See’s position on the matter, Patriarch Twal recalled Pope Benedict’s support for a two-state solution. “I remember the many speeches of the Pope that repeated the formula of the two peoples and two States. The Church desires peace for all, justice for all, a quiet and peaceable life for everyone,” he said.

“This is why one must also have the courage to say things when they are not right. Now I am thinking of the tragic situation in Syria, that the international community seems to want to remove.”

Patriarch Twal told Fides that while the path to peace is still long, it is necessary to deal with problems with a certain detachment without getting involved with animosity and vindictiveness. The decision of the UN Assembly could also encourage reconciliation within the Palestinian government, “since even Hamas in the end supported President Abbas’ request.”

With regard to the negative vote of the United States, Patriarch Twal recalled President Obama’s speech delivered in Cairo, which touched upon the relations with the Islamic world. “I hope that President Barack Obama has a good memory to remember his first speech in Cairo. That speech gave us a lot of hope,” Patriarch Twal said.