After all the negativity and attacks by anti-Palestinian groups, prior to the Penn BDS conference, the event itself has been a real celebration of solidarity among an incredibly diverse group of people.
I had the honor to give the keynote lecture last night to a packed auditorium. Here’s the recording of the live stream for anyone who wants to watch. Hopefully a better quality recording will become available in a few days.
A prominent Palestinian rights activist said Saturday night that the recent fury around the first national conference advocating a boycott of Israel, being held at the University of Pennsylvania, signifies that the Mideast conflict is at an “end game.”
“This insane hysteria about the conference tells us something about the moment we are in,” said Ali Abunimah, a co-founder of the Electronic Intifada news site, in his keynote speech at the conference. “In terms of the battle of ideas, we are in the end game.”
Ali Abunimah spoke to a full lecture hall in Meyerson Hall on Saturday night as the keynote speaker of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions conference. Abunimah is a Palestinian-American activist and the creator of The Electronic Intifada, an online publication focused on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
“I reiterate the spirit in which we came together: we stand against all forms of bigotry,” Abunimah said.
Anti-Palestinian filmmaker poses as CBC “journalist”Mondoweiss also has featured great coverage of the conference including about Martin Himel an anti-Palestinian filmmaker whose crew misrepresented him as a journalist from Canada’s CBC and who briefly had me fooled.
Here’s what happened: on Saturday morning, I was approached by two women who presented themselves as producers from Canada who were there to cover the conference. One of them clearly told me they were from the CBC. I was a bit surprised that the CBC would send a team to cover the conference but I thought perhaps with all the publicity it didn’t seem unreasonable they might have sent a US-based team from New York or Washington.
I agreed to be interviewed but later on. After the morning breakout session, one of the women buttonholed me and asked if I minded doing the interview then. Since it was the lunch break I said that was fine. She took me to a room where they had a camera and lights set up. They miked me and sat me down, and then the interviewer appeared. I learned only later that it was Martin Himel.
But the moment the interview began, I smelled something fishy. It was more of an attempted set up rather than a professional interview. Himel presented me with what he claimed were anti-Semitic cartoons from Palestinian media and wanted to confront me with them. The only thing I could see is they were printed off from the anti-Palestinian website “Palestinian Media Watch.” Palestinian Media Watch, I told Himel, is notorious for anti-Palestinian propaganda and is funded principally by a man currently on the run for money laundering.
I answered that I had no idea where the cartoons came from and didn’t trust the source. He then started talking about alleged incidents of anti-Jewish statements from “Fatah TV.” I dismissed the questions saying I couldn’t comment on things I hadn’t seen and if he had wanted me to comment on them he ought to be able to show them to me.
Then strangely, he started asking me about what I thought about the Palestinian writer Mazin Qumsiyeh – I just laughed and said he should read Mazin’s brilliant books.
His other questions seemed to be about proving that the real reason for Palestinian hostility to Israel was Islamic religious fanaticism.
At this point Himel seemed nervous because I wasn’t taking the bait, and he said, “I’m just as tough on the Jews when I interview them.” I told him firmly I didn’t appreciate him making generalizations about “the Jews” because such language sounded anti-Semitic and I didn’t care to hear it.
I quickly cut the interview short and left the room. I never signed Himel’s release form. I immediately reported to conference organizers that Himel and his crew were misrepresenting themselves as CBC journalists in order to gain access to conference speakers with, I believe, the intent of setting them up and obtaining soundbites that could be distorted or used to defame them and the conference.
Another dirty trick foiled.
More coverage of the conference
Susan Abulhawa, author of Mornings in Jenin, opened the conference. From The Daily Pennsylvanian:
Comparing the Palestinian struggle to those of the civil rights activists, anti-Vietnam leaders and apartheid South Africa, Abulhawa condemned the United Nations for inactivity and called on Israel “to abandon their nation of superiority.”
“You will never break us,” she said as she neared the end of her speech. An overwhelming applause erupted from the crowd.