People are beginning to awaken to the fact that the name-calling is connected to the violent oppression. The name-calling and the smearing is the weapon the oppressors use to silence the resistance. When someone is labeled as an anti-Semite, Holocaust Denier, Conspiracy Theorist and what have you, then we don't need to listen to what they have to say. You don't need an argument. Call someone an icky name, then avoid them and tell others to avoid them.
The surprising thing is that the name-calling often comes from the mouths of those in opposition to the oppressors. When pro-Palestinian activists call other pro-Palestinian activists these names, then we know the true power of the oppressor. The oppressor controls the language of the opposition.
When I met with divestment activists in the Presbyterian Church (USA) four years ago, I was surprised when one of them told me that we can now use the word "occupation." When the divestment movement in the PCUSA had begun over a decade previous, calling what Israel was doing to Palestine "an occupation" was not allowed. I asked, "Who makes those rules?" The answer had to do with strategy and who might be offended and who would support and not support their particular goals and so on and so forth.
The rules are self-made and guided by the oppressors.
The oppressors allow the little victories as long as the truth of what keeps the oppressors in power is not allowed to be revealed. When someone like for instance, Gilad Atzmon, starts talking about the ideology behind the oppressors, then an artificial line that has been drawn by the oppressors is crossed. All forces are then unleashed to smear not only Mr. Atzmon but anyone who might even give him space to defend himself against such attacks.
Meanwhile, mass murder continues while churches in America either cheer it on, satisfy themselves with smaller goals that won't offend the sensitivities of the oppressors, or, as in most cases, remain deadly silent.
I do think people are beginning to awaken to the fact that the name-calling is connected to the violent oppression and that the name-calling says much more about the name-caller than the name-called. The next step is heart or courage. If we are going to dismantle the oppressor by dismantling their control of the discourse, then we must accept that we, too, will be smeared when we give space to those who cross the oppressors' line. This may affect our reputations, our jobs, our livelihoods.
But that is nothing compared to what is happening to our sisters and brothers in Gaza on this 70th anniversary of the ongoing Nakba. As Mr. Atzmon writes, "We are all Palestinians now."
- Hear Gilad Atzmon tonight at 7 pm in Clackamas.
- My interview with Waddah Sofan (paralyzed by the IDF when he was 17), Gilad Atzmon, and Dick Toll of Friends of Sabeel North America.
- Gilad Atzmon named this year as One of the 100 Peace and Justice Leaders and Models (#5).
- Mr. Atzmon honored in Lebanon at the Fourth Global Convention of Solidarity with Palestine (starts 4:45)
- Mr. Atzmon featured in Almaydeen's Nakba Documentary (starts at 3:30).
Gilad Atzmon at Southminster. Peace, Love, Justice, and Jazz.