SHUNPIKING MAGAZINE hosted a special forum on the occasion of the publication of its new, book-length special edition, Dossier on Palestine, on 28 October 2002. Dr. Ismail Zayid, president of the Canada Palestine Association, longtime activist and a contributing writer, and Tony Seed, on behalf of the editorial staff, both provided their views on the significance of this initiative. Both presentations were repeatedly interrupted by applause. Despite the fact that the book launch was organized with only two days notice, fifty one people attended the lively function held in the hall at St. Antonios Antiochan Orthodox Church in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Participants expressed tremendous enthusiasm and a high regard for the quality of the information, historical context, photo essays, maps and information graphics, and perspectives contained in the 96-page work, of which 20,000 copies were printed as an initial press run. Initial orders were placed for 4,050 copies of the Dossier, which retails for $Cdn 5.00.*
We are reproducing the text of the address by Tony Seed, editor and publisher of Shunpiking Magazine, to the forum.
* * *
We are extremely gratified by your participation, by your patience during all the time it took to complete this work, and by your response to the publication of the Dossier on Palestine. This response is immediate and growing. This response shows not only that people approve of this initiative but more importantly that it meets a deep need for serious, in-depth information which tells the truth, which is consciously organized, edited and designed and which does not malign the Palestinian people, the victims of genocide, for their condition.
Why is Shunpiking Magazine does this? For two simple reasons. A valiant people is appealing for help. Secondly, people want to know the truth of the conflict. They do not like being kept in a state of ignorance. It is our duty, our responsibility.
Palestinians are not mere refugees, abstract statistics let alone so-called alien “terrorists” as the media, mired in the most profound prejudice, would have us believe. They are a people with names, with faces, with hopes and aspirations – the hopes and aspirations of collective humanity.
Shunpiking is a broad metaphor for discovery of Nova Scotia, the Maritimes and Canada. Canadians are discovering the world on a new basis. There is a deepening interest in international affairs. This publication has been a seven-month voyage of investigating and discovering the origins of the conflict, the reality of the courageous Palestinian people as a nation in their own terms, their ancient culture and history, their patriotic traditions and freedom-loving spirit and the truly brilliant influence exerted by the Palestinian and Arab peoples on the development of world history, science and culture. We reject the attempts of the media molochs of the Anglo-American world – the 11 multinationals dominating the world media – to so humiliate the Arabic people that they forget their own human history. The Palestinians are a sovereign people and nation, the first people of Historic Palestine. Since the development of a unipolar world and the blackest reaction, the Palestinians have been fighting with their bare hands against American imperialism and Zionist Israel. All humanity is indebted to them. It is their indomitable affirmation of their right-to-be, which impels them forward and evokes our heartfelt sympathy and fraternal support, not merely their resistance to the genocidal campaigns of the Israel-US axis. Palestinians are not mere refugees, abstract statistics let alone so-called alien “terrorists” as the media, mired in the most profound prejudice, would have us believe. They are a people with names, with faces, with hopes and aspirations – the hopes and aspirations of collective humanity. Their national struggle for their rights and against colonial and imperial designs has continued without let-up since the middle of the 19th century.
Once spoken aloud, it seems obvious. What has been obscuring it? In order to illuminate, to inform, we must deliberately demolish the disinformation, the disinformation which is organized at the highest levels of political and economic power, about this people and the reality on the ground. This disinformation has the purpose of covering up the aims of the foreign occupation of the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and the Golan Heights as well as South Lebanon. They have no intention of letting the people sort out the problems themselves. They seek to impose arrangements suitable to themselves and worked out by the big powers, according to the circumstances of the time, in short, colonization one day, partition another, even “transfer” or extermination for failing to surrender their national sovereignty. They strive to obscure simple truths by portraying the conflict in religious and obscurantist colours, as a “clash of civilizations,” as an “endless cycle of violence,” of people mindlessly fighting and killing each other.
Our aim is to also provide possible solutions to resolving the conflict. The Palestinian-Israeli conflict is not merely one of some sixty “local wars” taking place around the world today. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, the retreat of revolution and the rise of the blackest reaction, it is the Palestinian people who have held aloft the banner of liberation on the world scale. It is the tenacious affirmation of Palestinian sovereignty which doomed the initial Zionist projects to failure, whether in the 1890-20, the 1930-48 or the 1948-67 periods. It is the Palestinians who refused to accept George Bush Senior’s New World Order and his New Arab Order and sanction the Gulf War against Iraq. It is the resolute struggle of the Palestinians that is the main factor for peace in the Middle East today. Palestine and Iraq, while distinct questions, cannot be treated as separate “issues.” Thus you will not find from the editorial staff a single debilitating word of “criticism” of the Palestinian Authority. This is the sovereign affair of the Palestinian people themselves. Yasser Arafat is no more the “issue” than Saddam Hussein is the “issue.” This is the central reason why Israeli state terror, Washington, the media and the Anglo-American and Zionist liberals target them.
Only a principled stand clearly putting the blame where it belongs can provide a credible framework for the solution of the problems facing the peoples of the Middle East. Thus we take our stand with and for the Palestinians as we do with and for the Canadian people. The U.S. disinformation on the Middle East and the pressure to conciliate with it underscores the urgency for us to understand that the demand to find “reforms” should not be used to divert attention from providing explanations and solutions which beg the question.
A profound differentiation is taking place: yesterday’s critics of globalization either openly advocate that “Zionism is not necessarily racism,” or that the problems lie on “both sides.” Then there are those “friends” that assert that “criticism of Israel” must be “even handed” and tempered and watered down less it be interpreted as “anti-Semitic.” The “advice” of such “friends” forms part of a well-organized provocation designed to defuse the growing international outrage with the suppression of Palestinian rights, and to cover up that political Zionism itself is synonymous with, fosters and complements anti-Semitism. Zionists are anti-Semites. Yet another group of “socialist” prizefighters openly repudiate national self-determination, using the pretext that the Palestinians are incapable of liberating themselves because “they are not working class”; at the same time they promote that Zionism is a “nationalist ideology” and that “the working class is Zionist.” Unless these issues and the historical context are honestly understood and discussed with all seriousness, this fault-finding and pamphleteering from the sidelines is a course which cannot contribute to finding solutions to the actual problems of the Palestinians. Articles written with this narrow spirit did not find a place in Dossier on Palestine. To defend the Palestinians on their own basis is what is needed today. To discuss or to “defend” the Palestinians according to anything that George Bush and Ariel Sharon consider to be “civilized values” should be rejected with contempt. Solutions based on Eurocentric models of states and citizenship should be similarly rejected. Genuine solutions will be found by proceeding from the thought material of the Palestinian people themselves.
Thus, the editorial staff of the Dossier tries to identify the threat in precise terms and the measures which can be taken under the Rule of Law to deal with it. This is what unifies our contributors, supporters and potential readers – the demand to end the Israeli Occupation, the opposition to the use of force to settle conflicts within nations and between nations and upholding the principles and rule of law internationally, and the quest for genuine solutions.
This publication is a work based on principle – and this has applied to its design, production and now its distribution. We followed six guidelines:
Firstly, our aim was to reflect the Palestinian nationhood, in the various genres, be literary, first person reporting, historical commentaries, essays, legal analysis and maps with the exception, unfortunately, of their justly-famed poetry. You will also find several articles revealing different aspects of the reality of society within apartheid Israel.
We Canadian journalists expressly stand with our colleagues, the Palestinian journalists and photographers who are responsible for the most detailed reporting and exposes, and the most compelling, realistic and evocative photography in photo-journalism on the world scale. These professional communicators are paying for this self-sacrificing work with their lives and blood at the hands of the Israeli Defence Forces. We condemn their imprisonment without any charge, under harsh conditions detrimental to their health, under the so-called six-month “administrative detention,” for example, the photographer Husam Abu Alan from Agence France Presse; Khaled Zwawi, of the Palestinian daily El-Istiqlal arrested in Nablus on 15 April 2002; Nizar Ramadan, correspondent of the newspaper Al-Quds in Hebron, arrested on 28 June 2002. (1) Despite the fact that several are accredited for Agence France Presse (AFP) or Reuters or even CNN, whose bureau chief Ben Wedeman was himself shot in Gaza in October, 2000, you do not find a word of this in the Western media. If the publishers cannot condemn the shooting and illegal arrests of their own reporters and photographers, what chance do the Palestinians have? What chance does the truth have? This is not gutlessness or spinelessness. It illustrates the depth to which the monopoly media is an extension of state terrorism and a source of disinformation. It is the independent media that is telling the truth, in print and on the Internet. All our forces need to find means nationally and internationally to more closely collaborate. Though our influence is relatively small compared to the tornado of lying propaganda, it is growing and becoming professional. This terrifies these publishers.
We emphasized contributions from Palestinians, whose perspective is rarely found in the media, and from Canadians whose conscience has stood with Palestine and with peace in the Middle East for five decades.
Second, our stance is neither Palestinian nor Zionist, Muslim nor Jewish, nor one of ‘solidarity” but a modern Canadian and internationalist stance. This work has been organized as a collective on the self-sacrificing basis of people’s own efforts. To accomplish this, we had to put organizing in the first place. To whom did we look? It seems a simple question. We must bear in mind that the New World Order in which Canada aspires to participate eliminates any role of the people in determining their fate. There is enormous pressure that nothing can be done without a patron, a well-appointed NGO, a commercial advertiser or a seat on the foundation or government grant train. Another pressure put by the media is that you must be either Arabic or Jewish; there is no other voice reported. For our part, we looked to those concerned, to the community, and not to any other god. The response to our fund-raising appeal was positive from the outset. People literally walked in, asking where do we donate, saying “this must get done.” This immediate and continuing response shows how a principled editorial policy, quality and volume do not at all have to be sacrificed to the financial and other pressures.
… our stance is neither Palestinian nor Zionist, Muslim nor Jewish, nor one of ‘solidarity” but a modern Canadian and internationalist stance.
Third, you will not see amongst our contributors any big names, media darlings or “celebrities,” with the possible exception of items from the journalist Robert Fisk, Bishop Tutu or Albert Einstein, from whose work we reprinted short extracts. But our colleagues are very knowledgeable. Together we possess an extraordinary resource and diversity of talent and expertise. Our contributors are not so well known. Does it follow that we need to involve big names from abroad, especially the USA, in order to attract credibility? We reject this. Such an approach conciliates with many of the high priests who are paid big bucks to tour the universities and appear in the media as “experts,” be neo-con or liberal, who are responsible for the confusion in the first place. On the practical level, we also needed to overcome the separation of mental from manual labour. It has been my privilege to have met and worked these past six months with such excellent and experienced people of various national origins and shared their courage, confidence and good faith.
Fourth, our editorial standpoint is unity flowing from the principle and aims embodied in the editorial stand. This work was no tea party. Only by sticking to our aims through thick and thin were we able to realize this publication. You will find different views expressed within the Dossier. We choose our selections without regard to contributors’ national, political, racial or religious background. There are ordinary journalists and photographers, and doctors, lawyers and activists. There are those who are of Christian, Jewish and Islamic belief. There are contributors of Palestinian, Israeli, American and Canadian origin. There are contributors of liberal, social democratic and Marxist-Leninist affiliation. They all bring an enlightened perspective, analysis and important information to help the reader make up their own mind. We consider all their perspectives valid. We make no apology. This publication is partisan. We designed it with the aim of making the Zionists cringe with shame, if such is possible. It is well-researched and in-depth. But it cannot be called “biased” and “one-sided.” It is based on a sober investigation of objective reality.
Fifth, we emphasized contributions from Palestinians, whose perspective is rarely found in the media, and from Canadians whose conscience has stood with Palestine and with peace in the Middle East for five decades. The fact that over half the publication is from Haligonians or those who were resident here testifies to the remarkable knowledge and strides the people of this city have made and the Canadian conscience. We featured on the cover an inset photo by Jon Elmer of the Palestinian flag passing in front of the Old Town Clock from the demonstration against the G-7 Ministers in Halifax this past summer. This publication is a deed of the people of our city. This Dossier is not our Dossier. It is your Dossier. It is our contribution, and will reverberate around the world. Dr. Mohamed Elmasry, National President, Canadian Islamic Congress, recently visited our offices when he was in town for a media watch workshop. He kindly wrote to us: “This Dossier is the most outstanding work ever published in North America on this issue.” (Applause). “It goes after the truth in order to achieve peace with justice for ALL.” (Applause). CFRO 102.7 FM Vancouver is the largest co-op radio station in North America. It ordered fifty copies as a promotion for its annual membership drive, i.e., it is not resorting to gimmicks like Timex watches to encourage subscriptions. The popular broadcaster Charles Boylan, the host of “Discussion” and “Wake Up With Co-Op!” programs, wrote us:
“As a radio broadcaster in public affairs I need a factual, objective history of the Israeli-Palestinian clash. What has it got to do with oil? With Western ‘interests’ and the clash of empires? I look forward to reading the Dossier on Palestine as a useful antidote to all the mass media disinformation on this subject.” (Applause).
This is new journalism. It can be coordinated with the ongoing work to develop and sustain an independent media as part of the movement for enlightenment.
Sixth, our approach was mass volume: we printed 20,000 copies as the initial run to bring this perspective and information as far and as broad as possible. Our forces are relatively small in comparison to the mass media. We have relatively few resources. But does it follow that we must merge with the monopoly media, in the same way that it is argued that because Canada is relatively small it must rely on the US for “collective security”? This path presents the sources of falsification and ignorance as the ones who will disseminate the truth to the widest possible audience! The Dossier initiative shows something else. One not need expend tens of thousands of dollars in advocacy advertisements or inserts into the monopoly media. This is new journalism, a journalism of dignity and responsibility. It can be coordinated with the ongoing work to develop and sustain an independent media as part of the movement for enlightenment.
Such literature is useless if it is not widely disseminated, read and discussed.
Now we have come to the next stage, really the most decisive stage – that of distribution. Such literature is useless if it is not widely disseminated, read and discussed. This Dossier belongs to the people. We are calling on you and all others interested to assist to locate sources for bulk orders and put us in contact. We encourage everyone who is interested to buy this Dossier, singly or in bulk, to take copies to their friends, neighbours, family, classmates and workmates and participate in our neighbourhood sales work. Use the Internet and email your friends and colleagues. The Dossier is not a onetime project. Please send us your views and suggestions.
It is with this statement that I will conclude. The times cry out for the most resolute and determined actions in defence of the rights of the Palestinian and other peoples, including the Canadian people, for their freedom and national sovereignty, for the lasting peace which the peoples of the entire world desire based on the elimination of the dangers of fascism and war. Such a publication shows that a media of progress, enlightenment and freedom is possible and opens the door to new vistas and initiatives on the basis of our own efforts.
Thank you for your support.
(1) Administrative detention is a special measure that allows a person to be held for renewable periods of six months without charges, and therefore without trial. Neither the prisoners nor their lawyers have access to the case files.
* A book-length special edition from the editors of Shunpiking Magazine
First Print run: 20,000 copies. 96 pages. 8.25 in x 10.755 in / 20.96 cm x 27.32 cm
40 full colour pages. 23 maps. ISBN 1-895987-15-6
To order the Dossier on Palestine, please send cheque or money order for $10.oo CDN or US or 10 Euro (includes taxes, S&H) to New Media Publications, 31 Hilden Drive, Halifax, NS, Canada B3R 1K1.
Or visit: http://www.shunpiking.org/dop/dop.html
Bulk orders are available with a minim order of 25 copies or more at $2.50 ea. plus the cost of shipping. That is, you may keep 40 per cent of the retail price for your own program or organization. Our objective is the widest possible distribution. For exact pricing, including shipping, please contact us.