Palestine: Memory, Inequality & Power with Edward Said

The 1993 Oslo Accords between Israelis and Palestinians. You might recall the scene. Arafat, Rabin and Clinton at the White House beaming away and shaking hands. It was a euphoric moment. Peace and stability were at long last at hand. Did that happen? Take a look at a map. Oslo enabled greater Israeli control and expansion of colonies, euphemistically called settlements. There is no peace process rather it should be called an annexation/occupation process with an ever-shrinking possibility for a viable independent Palestinian state. And Washington? One administration after another went along with this charade. And the beleaguered Palestinians and their woeful leaders? They are to be grateful if they have a few malls, direct traffic and collect garbage. Rarely in the history of diplomacy has there been such a one-sided outcome as Oslo. This never-before-broadcast recorded at UCLA marks the 30th anniversary of the 1993 Oslo Accords and the 20th anniversary of Edward Said’s death on September 25, 2003.

Edward Said, an internationally renowned Columbia University professor, practically invented the field of post-colonial studies. His great works Orientalism and Culture and Imperialism have been translated into many languages and are widely used in colleges and universities. The New York Times called him, “one of the most influential literary and cultural critics in the world.” As one of the few advocates for Palestinian rights in the U.S., he was the target of vilification, death threats and vandalism. The Economist said he “repudiated terrorism in all its forms and was a passionate, eloquent and persistent advocate for justice for the dispossessed Palestinians.” He was a trenchant critic not just of Israeli policies, but also of Arafat, the corrupt coterie around him and the despotic Arab regimes. He wrote: “While I have always advocated resistance to Zionist occupation, I have never argued for anything but peaceful coexistence between us and the Jews of Israel once Israel’s military repression and dispossession of Palestinians has stopped.” He felt strongly that intellectuals had a special responsibility to speak out against injustice, challenge power, confront hegemonic thinking, and provide alternatives. His friend Noam Chomsky said of him, “Said was one of the most remarkable and influential intellectuals of the last half-century. Much of his immense effort and talent was dedicated to overcoming the insularity, prejudice, self-righteousness, and apologetics that are among the pathologies of power and defending the rights of the victims.” His memoir Out of Place won the New Yorker Book of the Year Award. His two books of interviews with David Barsamian are The Pen & the Sword and Culture & Resistance. Edward Said died in New York in 2003.

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