Global Palestine: Contemporary Collisions

John Collins (@djleftover), author of Global Palestine (Hurst/Oxford UP, 2011), explores the global politics of violence and the representation of violence, paying particular attention to the microcosmic and prophetic location of Palestine in relation to these processes.

Gaza Lesson #2: Endless Deferral

As I continue to reflect on what can be learned from a close look at the discourse surrounding Israel’s November 2012 “Operation Pillar of Cloud” in Gaza, I want to leave the media discourse aside for a moment and report on something more local.  Back in December I participated in a UVA-style “Flash Seminar” at my university’s new Global Dialogue Center (a project co-sponsored by the Weave).  The topic was Gaza, and the conversation unintentionally revealed yet another way in which our ways of talking about Israel/Palestine often serve to obfuscate as much as they explain.  With that in mind:

Lesson #2: The dominant discourse on Israel/Palestine produces a tendency to defer endlessly any systematic attention to Palestinians themselves, as real human beings – their rights, their experiences, and the real conditions of their lives. 

Gaza Lesson #1: Erasing Colonization

In my previous post I began the process of thinking about lessons we can learn from looking at the discourse surrounding Israel’s recent “Operation Pillar of Cloud” (also known as “Pillar of Defense” - the name itself has prompted criticism) in Gaza.  Today, in the first of several posts addressing specific lessons, I want to want to highlight what is always the first lesson to be learned about how Palestine is represented in mainstream discourse, a lesson that remains as relevant today as it has been for decades.

Lesson #1: The vast majority of mainstream discourse on Israel/Palestine serves to hide the ongoing structural realities of colonization, specifically the settler colonization of Palestine by the Zionist movement and the state of Israel.

Gaza Lessons: Getting Started

One of the core arguments of my Global Palestine book is that Palestine, because of its key location as a node in a global system, has much to teach us about a wide range of global issues.  To learn these lessons, however, we have to be willing to let go of many of the categories, narratives, and frameworks provided to us by dominant groups.  In presenting this argument, I refer to one of the German-Jewish philosopher Walter Benjamin’s

What's Left After the Election? (Part 2)

In my previous post I contrasted the U.S. election night coverage of the cable networks with the much more substantive conversation aired throughout the evening on Democracy Now!.  On DN!, Amy Goodman and her impressive series of guest commentators held a spirited discussion of what the election results would (and should) mean for progressives.  As a follow-up to that post, I’d like to identify five key issues that arguably need to be at the center of a post-election social justice agenda.  In keeping with the core mission of the Weave, I’m going to prioritize issues that are particularly underreported in the mainstream news media.  This is hardly an exhaustive list, and I hope readers will chime in with their own thoughts by leaving comments below.

What's Left After the Election? (Part 1)

The cable networks were certainly doing their thing last night.  Between CNN’s desperate attempt to keep viewers in suspense about the outcome of the election to MSNBC’s absurd “Democracy Plaza” theatrics to Karl Rove’s meltdown on Fox News, there was plenty of infotainment available.

Guest Blog: Justice for Salim Najjar

The following piece by Jimmy Johnson was originally published on Mondoweiss.  I am cross-posting it here because I think it represents an important intervention into discussions of solidarity with Palestine.

Unwelcome in Palestine

Eight years ago today, on December 22, 2003, two of my undergraduate students were denied entry into Israel at the southern border with Egypt.  The reason, the helpful border guard told them, was that they were "friends with Arabs."  He also told them that they would never be welcome again in Israel.  The problem, in other words, was not that they wanted to go to Israel; the problem was that they wanted to go to Palestine.  In the eight years since then, the experience of these two young Americans has proven, in its own small way, to be quite prophetic.  

NPR says "Wall Street yes...protestors, uh, not so much"

Today in my "Blogging the Globe" class we were discussing Noam Chomsky and Edward Herman's classic work on the "propaganda model" for understanding how the news media work to legitimate and naturalize elite perspectives and marginalize dissent in a supposedly "democratic" society.  As I told the students, the model isn't perfect - like all models, it can and should be subject to critique - but it has proven to be remarkably accurate, in many ways, over the years.  Today we got another illustration.

9/11 and the Terrorism of Language

107 Collateral Language“Language is a terrorist organization, and we stand united against terrorism.”  So began Collateral Language, a book I co-authored with a group of my colleagues shortly after the 9/11 attacks.  We wanted to call attention to the fact that in the aftermath of such a traumatic event, language can become a battlefield in a new kind of war – a war to leverage the event itself in the service of a response that stretches well beyond specific military campaigns. 

9/11, we suspected, would become a key moment in a much longer story of political and social transformation.  Language, we suspected, would be not only a casualty of 9/11, but also the currency through which these transformations would be sold to the American people and a central mechanism through which they would be carried out. 

We didn’t know how right we were. 

9/11/11: Critical Connectivity and the Next 10 Years

Just ten days after the 9/11 attacks, the Chilean writer Ariel Dorfman, who had experienced the September 11, 1973 coup d’etat and the subsequent period of military repression in his country, wrote the following: “One of the ways for Americans to overcome their trauma and survive the fear and continue to live and thrive in the midst of the insecurity which has suddenly swallowed them is to admit that their suffering is neither unique nor exclusive, that they are connected…with so many other human beings who, in apparently faraway zones, have suffered similar situations of unanticipated and often protracted injury and fury."