Victor Kattan

Palestinians Call for Boycott of Israeli Academia

The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel has called upon their colleagues in the international community to “comprehensively and consistently boycott all Israeli academic and cultural institutions” as exemplified in the struggle to abolish apartheid in South Africa through diverse forms of boycott. The call was made at an international conference on “Resisting Israeli Apartheid Strategies and Principles” at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London on Sunday 5 December. Victor Kattan reports. 

Connecting Refugees: An interview with Karma Nabulsi

It is 11 November 2004, Abu Ammar is sick, and the phones have been ringing all day. Karma Nabulsi, a Fellow at Nuffield College, Oxford University and a former P.L.O. representative, and advisory member of the delegation to the peace process in Washington D.C. 1991-1993, is in demand. The BBC wants her opinion on the latest developments concerning Yasser Arafat, who is lying sick in a hospital bed in Paris. Although Nabulsi keeps abreast of the latest international developments, and does her best to speak up for the Palestinian cause, her P.L.O. days are long over. Instead she is currently embarking on one of the biggest projects of her life called Civitas. 

Palestine takes centre stage at the European Social Forum

“End the oppression, end the occupation” was the rallying cry at the European Social Forum in London last weekend, where thousands of delegates from all walks of life descended on Alexandra Palace united in the belief that “another world is possible.” Dennis Brutus, a poet, professor and former political prisoner who spent time on Robin Island with Nelson Mandela “breaking stones”, said it was “encouraging to see the crowds that have attended on each occasion to discuss the issue of the Palestinian people and their struggle for social justice.” He urged the audience to build a “global movement in support of the Palestinian people” just like was done in South Africa. “We can do this by boycotts, divestments, embargoes and sanctions” he said. 

The myths and reality of Palestinian refugees in Syria: An interview with Lex Takkenberg

Syria is a country that few people in the West know much about, or care to visit. After all, this is one of the countries that George W. Bush declared part of the “Axis of Evil.” But when I travelled to Syria for the first time, I could not find anything “evil” about it. Indeed, I did not find anything “evil” in the way Syria treats Palestinians who were forced to flee their homeland in 1948; and after my interview with Lex Takkenburg, Deputy Director-General of the U.N. refugee agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA) in Syria, I concluded that “compassionate” would be a more accurate description of Syria than “evil.” 

Interview with Afif Safieh, Palestinian General-Delegate to the UK and the Holy See

As new Labour, the Liberal Democrats, and the Tories prepare for their party political conferences in Bournemouth and Brighton in the coming weeks, Palestinians from Balata to Beit Jibrin will be locked up in their homes and refugee camps for the fourth consecutive year. Against this background, occasional EI correspondent Victor Kattan interviewed Afif Safieh, the Palestinian General-Delegate to the UK and the Holy See - a sophisticated and suave chain-smoker - who invariably describes himself as a diplomat, a democrat, a political scientist and an observer of the British domestic political scene. 

"A state cannot indefinitely stand against the world": An interview with UN Special Rapporteur John Dugard

“There is no possibility of sanctions being imposed against Israel; at least at present. South Africa alienated itself from all five of the veto powers and this allowed limited sanctions to be imposed. Israel will, it seems, for ever have the USA to veto any sanctions being imposed by the Security Council. I raised the issue simply to get it into the debate so that it is on the table. I have had no feedback whatsoever.” Occasional EI contributor Victor Kattan recently interviewed John Dugard, U.N. Special Rapportuer for Human Rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. 

Documentary film review: "News from the Holy Land"

News from the Holy Land: Options and Consequences is a film that shows how journalists can improve their coverage of the Israel-Palestine conflict. It is geared towards aspiring journalists (although veteran journalists could learn a thing or two from it), introducing creative ways of covering the conflict. The film stresses that it is the lack of context in mainstream reporting of the conflict that leads to a process of polarization. This is partly because the media are only interested in violence and not the underlying processes which lead to the violence. 

Film review: "Aftershock" exposes IDF soldiers' psychology

“Whilst I was there, I lost all my faith in the Israeli army. They put it right in your face: ‘Go be the oppressors for your people. Force yourselves upon them.’ They told us … ‘take these bats wrapped up in plastic and … calm things down’ … We had skulls on our helmets, dude. We walked around with machetés, all kinds of crazy stuff. Sheriff badges. We’d improvise some very unique solutions.” This is Ehud, speaking 12 years after having served in the occupied Palestinian territories. Like the thousands before him, he was a paratrooper in the Israeli army during the first Palestinian intifada (1987-1993). 

Court Diary from the February 2004 ICJ Hearings

Victor Kattan, a correspondent for Arab Media Watch and occasional contributor to EI, was at the International Court of Justice in the Hague during February 2004 to report on the hearings to determine the legality of Israel’s West Bank Barrier, dubbed the “Apartheid Wall” by Palestinians. On the day the ICJ gives its advisory opinion, 9 July 2004, EI reprints Victor Kattan’s Court Diary from the hearings that took place from Monday 23rd February to Wednesday 25th February 2004. 

Review: "Death in Gaza"

The 77-minute HBO/Channel 4 production Death in Gaza is a story about the last moments of the life of award-winning British cameraman James Miller, 1968-2003. Miller travelled to the occupied Palestinian territories to make a film on children and was fatally shot by an Israeli soldier when filming in Rafah. The film’s commentator, Saira Shah, is an award-winning journalist of Afghan-Scottish decent. Miller and Shah had collaborated on other award-winning documentaries such as Beneath the Veil and Unholy War (Channel 4 / CNN), both filmed in Afghanistan.