Rami Younis: Back to Beit HaGefen to Incite Against Israel
Rami Younis is at it again (or still). As Artistic Director of an Arab cultural festival at Haifa’s Beit Hagefen in 2018, he was asked to desist from screening the film, ‘Naela and the Intifada,’ that glorifies terrorism. He did not. Now he is back at Beit Hagefen, moderating a panel discussion tonight (20 November) that closes the Haifa (Arab) Story Festival.
The event is called ‘Boundary markings: On the limits of contemporary Palestinian culture in Haifa.’ For a cultural event this is quite the political title about which one could perhaps write an entire treatise.
The blurb describing it refers to Haifa as a center for the development of Palestinian art that reaches out to the entire Arab world and beyond. It praises the independence of artists who do not rely on government funds (unlike this very event itself that is supported by the municipality and two government ministries). The purpose of the panel is to discuss the development of local culture under conditions created by Israeli political and cultural space.
Who are the speakers?
- Amal Jamal, Political Science professor at Tel Aviv University and head of The Walter-Lebach Institute for Jewish-Arab Coexistence. Relatively recent publications include: ‘The violent nature of Israeli occupation,’ ‘The Biden administration must press for accountability and justice for Shireen abu Akleh,’ and a book called Reconstructing the civic: Palestinian civil activism in Israel. I suppose we could praise him for calling Israel by name and not ‘the Zionist entity.’ His book was reviewed in the Institute for Palestinian Studies journal by Amneh Badran, herself an author who wrote Zionist Israel and Apartheid South Africa: Civil Society and Peace Building in Ethnic-National States.
There is no doubt of the direction he will take in his contribution to the panel discussion.
- The artist, Nadine Srougi, who has made the comment that, “as a Palestinian in Israel, even if I draw a rose, it will be considered political.” She describes her work as an invitation to question one’s relationship to one’s environment and to oneself and she accomplishes this by manipulating familiar objects using a variety of materials. Her art has been shown in several Israeli galleries, including the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, and she has received a number of awards.
Sandwiched between Jamal and Zoabi, she seems quite light-weight in terms of anti-Israeli positioning according to what I could find online. I wonder if she will ‘rise to the occasion’ on this panel.
- Lobna Zoabi, former director of Arab Culture in Israel’s Ministry of Culture, uploaded a post onto Facebook (July 2017) in which she justified the killing of two Israeli policemen by three terrorists from Umm el Fahm. She wrote: “To those who think that human lives are more important than the land, than home, than Al-Aksa, I say.that if you rape this land and our homes, you and your souls are next in line…One cannot defend one’s body and life if one does not defend one’s symbols, land, children, identity and dignity.”
In 2019, she was “disciplined” by the civil service commission (rather than charged criminally). In July, she apparently resigned from her position, claiming it was in protest against worsening employment conditions she faced, including limits placed on her freedom of expression. It is unclear if she quit or was let go. In any case, the wheels of bureaucracy turn ever so slowly.
And, of course, the discussion among these three illustrious panelists and the audience will be moderated by Rami Younis, the journalist and TV news presenter who called IDF soldiers “Nazis” and who supports BDS against Israel.
The event is being held in a building owned by the City of Haifa and is supported by funds from the municipality as well as two ministries — Tourism and Culture. Letters of protest were sent by B’Tsalmo, and bereaved parents of the murdered policemen requested its cancellation. These were ignored, as Zoabi happily announced in a recent Facebook post, and the show will go on as planned.
When Haifa voted in Mayor Einat Kalisch-Rotem in 2018, she immediately showed her own personal support of terrorism by appointing Raja Za’atara as deputy mayor. This is a man who compared ISIS to the State of Israel, saying that it was from Israel that they learned rape, looting, murder, massacres, simultaneously claiming that he only wants to promote coexistence among Jews and Arabs in Haifa.. Kalisch-Rotem refused to rescind the appointment in spite of the surge of protest against it and Haifa was only saved from having him as deputy mayor when he, himself, resigned.
Therefore, it is perfectly consistent with Kalisch-Rotem’s political beliefs that the terrorism-supporting event take place, and take place with taxpayer money on municipal property.
The next municipal elections cannot happen soon enough.
In the meantime, a protest is called for tonight — for 19:00 in front of the Tikotin Museum, HaNassi Blvd 89. A number of city council members and MK’s Almog Cohen (Otzma Yehudit), Zvika Fogel (Otzma Yehudit), and Ariel Kelner (Likud) will join bereaved families in the attempt to block attendees from entering the premises. We can expect the police to be called in to prevent the protesters from being successful
Great piece. I hope Israelis will remember this when they vote.