George Bisharat

Don't deny our rights: open letter to Mahmoud Abbas

No Palestinian institution or leader has ever accepted an exclusive Jewish claim to Palestine, which is irreconcilable with the internationally recognized rights of the Palestinian people. Our rights inhere in us as a people; they are not yours to do with as you please. 

Obama must match rhetoric with principle

US President Barack Obama has placed restoration of the stature of the United States among his primary foreign policy goals. He has already achieved substantial progress in Europe, where polls indicate that he is widely admired. The president’s June Cairo University speech also won praise in the Arab and Muslim worlds. Yet many across the globe still await the substantive policy changes implied by his inspiring words. George Bisharat comments. 

Changing the rules of war

The extent of Israel’s brutality against Palestinian civilians in its 22-day pounding of the Gaza Strip is gradually surfacing. Israeli soldiers are testifying to lax rules of engagement tantamount to a license to kill. One soldier commented: “That’s what is so nice, supposedly, about Gaza: You see a person on a road, walking along a path. He doesn’t have to be with a weapon, you don’t have to identify him with anything and you can just shoot him.” George Bisharat comments. 

The fallacy of Islamic "national suicide"

“National suicide” will soon be an incantation by neoconservative and other pro-Israeli pundits and politicians on the “bomb Iran” bandwagon. Its strategic implications are clear: We can’t trust irrational regimes because they are not deterred by threat of annihilation. Therefore, extraordinary actions — such as preemptive attack — may be not only justified but necessary. George Bisharat comments. 

A double standard on academic freedom

Two hundred thousand Palestinian children began school in the Gaza Strip this month without a full complement of textbooks. Why? Because Israel, which maintains a stranglehold over this small strip of land along the Mediterranean even after withdrawing its settlers from there in 2005, considers paper, ink and binding materials not to be “fundamental humanitarian needs.” George Bisharat comments. 

A just boycott

When does a citizen-led boycott of a state become morally justified? That question is raised by an expanding academic, cultural and economic boycott of Israel. The movement joins churches, unions, professional societies and other groups based in the United States, Canada, Europe and South Africa. It has elicited dramatic reactions from Israel’s supporters. US labor leaders have condemned British unions, representing millions of workers, for supporting the Israel boycott. George Bisharat comments. 

Memory as a blueprint for the future

Why do some people have the power to remember, while others are asked to forget? That question is especially poignant at this time of year, as we move from Holocaust Remembrance day in early spring to Monday’s anniversary of Israel’s declaration of independence on May 14, 1948. In the months surrounding that date, Jewish forces expelled, or intimidated into flight, an estimated 750,000 Palestinians. A living, breathing, society that had existed in Palestine for centuries was smashed and fragmented, and a new society built on its ruins. 

Pro-Israel Censorship Hurts Us All

One day in 1981, my late father, Maurice Hanna Bisharat, returned from a long day at his Sacramento, Calif., medical office with an extra bounce in his step, his eyes dancing with excitement. His friend, Michael Himovitz, the young owner of a local art gallery, had called, offering to hold a one-person show of my father’s paintings - mostly California landscapes. My father had taken up painting after immigrating to this country from Palestine in the late 1940s, and although an amateur, had won a national art award within two years. 

Truth at last, while breaking a U.S. taboo of criticizing Israel

Americans owe a debt to former President Jimmy Carter for speaking long hidden but vital truths. His book Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid breaks the taboo barring criticism in the United States of Israel’s discriminatory treatment of Palestinians. Our government’s tacit acceptance of Israel’s unfair policies causes global hostility against us. Israel’s friends have attacked Carter, a Nobel laureate who has worked tirelessly for Middle East peace, even raising the specter of anti-Semitism.