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American dissent against the Israeli occupation

has tended to avoid the obvious “niggerization” process in Palestine



Books by Jonathan Scott

Socialist Joy in the Writing of Langston Hughes 


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The Niggerization of Palestine

By Jonathan Scott

What do you call a Black man with a PhD?  Nigger. —Malcolm X


The situation of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza has become so bad that even the pro-Israeli New York Times is reporting on some of the more revolting developments.

For instance, on October 11 the Times ran an article titled “Israel Bars New Palestinian Students From Its Universities, Citing Concern Over Security,” and in September it had published a “human interest” piece profiling the long struggle of Palestinian community leader Sami Bahour to gain a residency permit in Ramallah, the place where he has lived and worked for the past 15 years (“Israeli Visa Policy Traps Thousands of Palestinians in a Legal Quandary,” 9/18/06). In the latter piece the Times reported that, “Over the past six years, more than 70,000 people, a vast majority of them of Palestinian descent, have applied without success to immigrate to the West Bank and Gaza.”

In the former article the Times notes that the Israeli Army has just imposed an “outright ban” on all Palestinian students who wish to study at Israeli universities, even if the student has been already accepted into a doctoral program, which is the case of Sawsan Salameh, a Palestinian woman from the West Bank who recently earned a full scholarship from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem to begin a doctorate in theoretical chemistry. Instead of beginning her PhD studies in this fall semester, she is tied up with lawyers who are preparing her case for the Israel Supreme Court.

The Times here has reached the farthest limits of permissible discourse on the Israeli military occupation of Palestine, the longest colonial occupation in modern history and one that is impossible without the $8 billion in unconditional U.S. aid that flows annually to Israel. The occupation costs Israel $12 billion per year and would become immediately insupportable were the massive U.S. aid package suspended for even a month or two (80 percent of all U.S. foreign aid goes to Israel). Thus it’s unlikely that the Times will follow up these two stories with the real story behind them, namely why it is that there exists not a single PhD program in any of the eight major Palestinian universities, in spite of the fact that Palestinians are among the most well educated people on earth. 

The underlying issue, as is always the case with Palestine, is how Americans might respond politically if they came to know that a significant portion of their tax dollars is funding the most brutal system of racial oppression the world has seen since American Jim Crow and apartheid in South Africa. The thousands of dedicated Palestine solidarity activists across the U.S. work under the assumption that once the basic facts of Israeli racial oppression against the Palestinians are established, vividly and for the political education of the majority of Americans, organized opposition to the 60-year old U.S. pro-Israel policy will spring to life, leading finally to a just solution of what’s called euphemistically in the West “the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”

The Israel Lobby works with this same assumption, evidenced by their vicious attacks on anybody who dares call the Israeli occupation racist, or who merely points out the apartheid character of its new 700 kilometer segregation wall, whose “major aim,” as the Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, B’Tselem, has put it, is “to build the Barrier east of as many settlements as possible, to make it easier to annex them into Israel.” As we know, merely naming properly the thousands of well paid pro-Israeli lawyers, academics, and media pundits an organized political lobby, whose sole objective is to suppress this kind of information in the West, will get you labeled “anti-Semitic,” as the liberal, establishment scholars Walt and Mearsheimer recently learned.

Yet, American dissent against the Israeli occupation has tended to avoid the obvious “niggerization” process in Palestine. In this way, what Edward Said referred to as “the last taboo in American politics,” that is, any discussion of Israel as an imperialist power in aggressive pursuit of regional military and economic domination, needs to be qualified, for in the aftermath of the Israeli Air Force’s annihilation of Lebanon this kind of discussion is beginning to happen. What’s not happening, though, is a discussion of the racial character of Israeli imperialism against the Arab nations, beginning of course with the Palestinian nation.

The parallel between the nature of Israel’s establishment in 1948 and the Anglo-American extermination of the indigenous population, the Native Americans, during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries is clear and many Palestinian scholars have always stressed it. In 1948 Israeli Zionists executed a genocidal war against the Palestinians, the style of which would have made Joseph Conrad nod in instant recognition. Recall his description in Heart of Darkness of the murderous British imperialism let loose in the Congo: “They were conquerors, and for that you want only brute force—nothing to boast of, when you have it, since your strength is just an accident arising from the weakness of others. They grabbed what they could get for what was to be got. It was just robbery with violence, aggravated murder on a great scale.”

More than 800,000 Palestinians, or 80 percent of the indigenous population, were forcibly expelled from their land and the ripest parts of it, the beautiful and bustling port cities of Haifa, Jaffa, and Akka, immediately confiscated by Israeli Zionists and set aside for Jews only. Palestinians had fled in horror after having either witnessed first-hand the massacre of fellow townspeople and villagers or heard the stories of the hundreds of neighboring towns and villages razed to ground by Zionist militias, who murdered everyone refusing to abandon their homes.

Many works of Palestinian historiography are available that document these basic facts, and there are several classic works of Israeli historiography that do the same, which came out of the 1980s period in which a great deal of declassified material was released by Israel. See in particular Rosemary Sayigh’s Palestinians: From Peasants to Revolutionaries and Nur Masalha’s Expulsion of the Palestinians; for the Israeli accounts, see Benny Morris’s The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem and Simha Flapan’s The Birth of Israel. These Israeli scholars use the term “ethnic cleansing” to describe the establishment of Israel and its dispossession of the Palestinians. By the logic of the Israel Lobby, these Jewish scholars are guilty of “anti-Semitism” and worse are “self-hating Jews,” even though both scholars are actually staunch Zionists. 

In fact, the original Zionist idea was to reserve the land for European Jews only, modeled after the well established pattern of nineteenth-century European racialist colonialism in Asia and Africa, but this proved to be a very difficult task as the majority of European and Euro-American Jewry then preferred, and continues to prefer today, the life of a Manhattan or London Zionist to that of an actual Jewish colonial-settler on occupied Arab land. Consequently, the majority of Israeli society is comprised of Arab Jews, mainly from Iraq, and 20 percent is Palestinian. In Israeli public discourse, these facts are referred to openly as “the demographic problem.”

Any “demographic problem” is completely racial: it presupposes the existence of two distinct types of human being, one deserving full civil rights and social privileges and the other an aggravating nuisance that must be got rid of, because this type is merely pretending to be human no matter how much education, property, or eloquence the person possesses. This is the hallmark of the “niggerization” process.

There is a startling abundance of empirical evidence documenting Israel’s  “niggerization” of the Palestinians, from the various studies conducted by international human rights organizations to local Palestinian and Israeli monitoring groups, who document meticulously everything from daily torture in Israeli prisons, water theft and house demolitions, to racial profiling, harassment and physical assault at military checkpoints, collective punishment and the systematic use of “administrative detention” (imprisoning a person without charge or evidence) as a means of incarcerating a whole generation of rebellious Palestinian youth, in other words, those who have rejected the “niggerization” process.

For those interested, see B’Tselem’s perspicaciously maintained web site, and also visit the excellent Electronic Intifada site, among many others. Yet I feel strongly that at this point the documentary record is simply overwhelming the crucial everyday life stories of Palestinians to the extent that more data and analysis will add nothing useful to the discussion. As Dr. King and the African American civil rights movement proved to the world, the moral critique of racial oppression is what changes people’s perceptions, not more facts and expert commentary.

Every day I travel back and forth between the West Bank and Jerusalem as part of my teaching responsibilities at Al-Quds University, for we have two main campuses. For Palestinians from the West Bank, this kind of commute is impossible because Israel has banned all Palestinians from entering Jerusalem, their own capital, except for the few who have Jerusalem identity cards.

Consequently, close to 90 percent of all Palestinian students and faculty at the university cannot use the Jerusalem campus, which means that there are many courses students cannot take to graduate because they cannot reach the Jerusalem campus to take them, and conversely many courses are cancelled because professors cannot get there to teach them. They are also cut off from essential library resources.

Taking seven or eight years to graduate is becoming normal, and there are many unfortunate student dropouts as well as a gradual loss of faculty, since there is only so much a person can take. Many students require four hours to get to the West Bank campus, coming as they do from all over the West Bank where Israel has in place around 800 military checkpoints altogether.   

Under American Jim Crow and South African apartheid, this was known as the illegalization of literacy, one of the basic elements of racial oppression. The other three elements—the declassing of property-holders, the deprivation of civil rights, and the destruction of the family—are also deployed in Israel’s racist policy of excluding Palestinians from Jerusalem, which is very obvious and can be illustrated by a only few examples.

In the Palestinian West Bank village where I live, there are many new shopkeepers selling cheap goods in direct competition with more established shops. At first I didn’t understand why a person would attempt such an impossible business enterprise, especially during a time when Palestinians are suffering extreme cash-flow problems due to the ongoing U.S. economic blockade of the Hamas government. So I asked a few shopkeepers. One had his tour bus business ruined after Israel imposed its ban on Palestinians from the West Bank entering Jerusalem, since this meant he could no longer drive his bus in and around Jerusalem, while several others were forced to abandon their wholesale produce businesses for the same reason: without access to Jerusalem restaurants and grocery stores, they lost their whole clientele.

This central aspect of the “niggerization” process in Palestine is not new; the fact is that it is now nearly complete. Palestinian political economist Adel Samara points out that it began within days of Israel’s conquest of the West Bank and Gaza in 1967, when hundreds of new military orders were issued, half of which involved Israel’s economic interests. “These interests include the employment of a cheap labor force,” says Samara. “Military orders cut the occupied territories off from the rest of the world, making Israel their main supplier (90 percent of the occupied territories’ imports come from or through Israel). Thus the wages paid to the workers were returned to Israel as payments for Israeli consumer goods. By absorbing the labor force, while at the same time pursuing a policy of rejecting Palestinian applications for licenses to start productive projects, the Israelis were able to destroy the occupied territories’ economic infrastructure, thus facilitating the integration of the latter’s economy into that of Israel” (For a full analysis, see his book, The Political Economy of the West Bank).

In terms of the deprivation of civil rights, being denied entry into Jerusalem means the denial of the right to pray at the al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock, which are not only two of the holiest sites in Islam but also located in al-Haram al-Sharif, a 35-acre sacred area in the southeastern corner of the Old City, one of the most venerated places of worship in the entire world much less historic Palestine. Palestinian scholar Salim Tamari has referred to the Israeli policy of denying Palestinians access to worship in Jerusalem “a regime of discrimination.”

The denial of building permits is the other side of Israel’s policy of denying visas to Palestinians who hold North American or European passports: the latter blocks the development of Palestinian society by robbing it of both capital and a skilled cadre of professional analysts, social planners, architects, and administrators, while the former produces ghettoization on a massive scale. The Israeli Jerusalem Municipality issues on average only 100 building permits annually to Palestinians, as compared with 1,500 to Jewish Israelis. As a result of this racist policy, between 1986 and 1996 40 to 60 percent of Palestinian Jerusalemites were forced to move outside the municipal boundaries. Most belong to Palestine’s middle class. East Jerusalem has been reduced from Palestine’s commercial and political capital to another Palestinian ghetto. Within these ghettos, it’s very common to find Palestinian businessmen as well as college graduates driving broken down shuttle vans for less than $10 a day.

Last week I was riding in one of these vans on the way to visit a friend in Ramallah when the engine quit. The driver graciously returned our money—a mere shekel and a half each, about 30 cents—and we piled out of the van to wait along the road for a different van. While waiting together we could see a speeding sports car brake as it approached us. The windows came down and the people inside, a family of Jewish Israelis, flipped us the middle finger. A small thing compared to the total scale of Israeli oppression of Palestinians, yet the image has stayed with me. A shiny new BMW, a well-scrubbed family on the way perhaps to the local synagogue or a birthday party, their sparkling faces, taking a little time out of their busy day to say hello to a group of dusty travelers stranded by the side of the road.

Jonathan Scott is Assistant Professor of English at Al-Quds University in Abu Dees, the West Bank, and the author of Socialist Joy in the Writing of Langston Hughes .

posted 17 November 2006

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Mapping an Occupation--WestBank

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How William Faulkner Tackled Race—and Freed the South from Itself—John Jeremiah Sullivan on Absalom, Absalom!—You are my brother. — No I’m not. I’m the nigger that’s going to sleep with your sister. Unless you stop me, Henry.

This is a novel [Absalom, Absalom!] that uses the word “nigger” many times. An unfortunate subject, but to talk about it in 2012 and not mention the fact hints at some kind of repression. Especially when you consider that the particular example I’ve quoted is atypically soft: Bon, the person saying it, is part black, and being mordantly ironic. Most of the time, it’s a white character using the word—or, most conspicuously, the novel itself, in its voice—with an uglier edge. The third page features the phrase “wild niggers”; elsewhere it’s “monkey nigger.”

Faulkner wasn’t unique or even uncommon in using the word this way. Hemingway, Dos Passos, Gertrude Stein—all did so unapologetically. They were reflecting their country’s speech. They were also, if we are being frank, exploiting the word’s particular taboo charge, one only intensified when the writer is a white Southerner. Faulkner says “Negroes” in plenty of places here, also “blacks,” but when he wants a stronger effect, he says “niggers.” It isn’t a case, in short, of That’s just how they talked back then. The term was understood by the mid-’30s (well before, in fact) to be nasty. A white person wouldn’t use it around a black person unless meaning to offend or assert superiority—except perhaps now and then in the context of an especially close humor.

Even if we were to justify Faulkner’s overindulgence of the word on the grounds of historical context, I would find it unfortunate purely as a matter of style. It may be crass for a white reader to claim that as significant, but a writer with Faulkner’s sensitivity to verbal shading might have been better tuned to the ugliness of the word, and not a truth-revealing ugliness, but something more like gratuitousness, with an attending queasy sense of rhetorical power misused. I count it a weakness, to be placed alongside Faulkner’s occasional showiness and his incessant “not” constructions, which come often several to a page: “and not this, nor that, nor even the other thing, but a fourth thing — adjective adjective adjective — made him lift the hoe” (where half the time those things would not have occurred to you in your natural life, but old Pappy takes his time chopping them down anyway).

The defense to be mounted is not of Faulkner’s use of the word but of the novel in spite of it, or rather, in the face of it. Absalom, Absalom! has been well described as the most serious attempt by any white writer to confront the problem of race in America. There is bravery in Faulkner’s decision to dig into this wound. He knew that the effort would involve the exposure of his own mind, dark as it often was. You could make a case that to have written this book and left out that most awful of Southernisms would have constituted an act of falsity.

Certainly we would not want to take the word away from Bon, in that scene in the woods, one of the most extraordinary moments in Southern literature. A white man and a black man look at each other and call each other brother. One does, anyway. Suddenly, thrillingly, the whole social edifice on which the novel is erected starts to teeter. All Henry has to do is repeat himself. Say it again, the reader thinks. Say, “No, you are my brother.” And all would be well, or could be well, the gothic farce of Sutpen’s dream redeemed with those words, remade into a hopeful or at least not-hope-denying human story. Charles Bon would live, and Judith would be his wife, and Sutpen would have descendants, and together they might begin rebuilding the South along new lines.—nytimes

Psychology of Black Oppression   The N-Word Poem at Lakeside  H. Rap Brown's Die Nigger Die!   The Niggerization of Palestine  

Juneteenth and Emancipation   The Origin of Violence in Virginia   Just Another Dead Nigger  Nigguh Please

*   *   *   *   *'s 25 Best Selling Books



#1 - Justify My Thug by Wahida Clark
#2 - Flyy Girl by Omar Tyree
#3 - Head Bangers: An APF Sexcapade by Zane
#4 - Life Is Short But Wide by J. California Cooper
#5 - Stackin' Paper 2 Genesis' Payback by Joy King
#6 - Thug Lovin' (Thug 4) by Wahida Clark
#7 - When I Get Where I'm Going by Cheryl Robinson
#8 - Casting the First Stone by Kimberla Lawson Roby
#9 - The Sex Chronicles: Shattering the Myth by Zane

#10 - Covenant: A Thriller  by Brandon Massey

#11 - Diary Of A Street Diva  by Ashley and JaQuavis

#12 - Don't Ever Tell  by Brandon Massey

#13 - For colored girls who have considered suicide  by Ntozake Shange

#14 - For the Love of Money : A Novel by Omar Tyree

#15 - Homemade Loves  by J. California Cooper

#16 - The Future Has a Past: Stories by J. California Cooper

#17 - Player Haters by Carl Weber

#18 - Purple Panties: An Anthology by Sidney Molare

#19 - Stackin' Paper by Joy King

#20 - Children of the Street: An Inspector Darko Dawson Mystery by Kwei Quartey

#21 - The Upper Room by Mary Monroe

#22 – Thug Matrimony  by Wahida Clark

#23 - Thugs And The Women Who Love Them by Wahida Clark

#24 - Married Men by Carl Weber

#25 - I Dreamt I Was in Heaven - The Rampage of the Rufus Buck Gang by Leonce Gaiter


#1 - Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention by Manning Marable
#2 - Confessions of a Video Vixen by Karrine Steffans
#3 - Dear G-Spot: Straight Talk About Sex and Love by Zane
#4 - Letters to a Young Brother: MANifest Your Destiny by Hill Harper
#5 - Peace from Broken Pieces: How to Get Through What You're Going Through by Iyanla Vanzant
#6 - Selected Writings and Speeches of Marcus Garvey by Marcus Garvey
#7 - The Ebony Cookbook: A Date with a Dish by Freda DeKnight
#8 - The Isis Papers: The Keys to the Colors by Frances Cress Welsing
#9 - The Mis-Education of the Negro by Carter Godwin Woodson

#10 - John Henrik Clarke and the Power of Africana History  by Ahati N. N. Toure

#11 - Fail Up: 20 Lessons on Building Success from Failure by Tavis Smiley

#12 -The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander

#13 - The Black Male Handbook: A Blueprint for Life by Kevin Powell

#14 - The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates by Wes Moore

#15 - Why Men Fear Marriage: The Surprising Truth Behind Why So Many Men Can't Commit  by RM Johnson

#16 - Black Titan: A.G. Gaston and the Making of a Black American Millionaire by Carol Jenkins

#17 - Brainwashed: Challenging the Myth of Black Inferiority by Tom Burrell

#18 - A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose by Eckhart Tolle

#19 - John Oliver Killens: A Life of Black Literary Activism by Keith Gilyard

#20 - Alain L. Locke: The Biography of a Philosopher by Leonard Harris

#21 - Age Ain't Nothing but a Number: Black Women Explore Midlife by Carleen Brice

#22 - 2012 Guide to Literary Agents by Chuck Sambuchino
#23 - Chicken Soup for the Prisoner's Soul by Tom Lagana
#24 - 101 Things Every Boy/Young Man of Color Should Know by LaMarr Darnell Shields

#25 - Beyond the Black Lady: Sexuality and the New African American Middle Class  by Lisa B. Thompson

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Book of Sins

By Nidaa Khoury


Khoury's poetry is fired by belief in the human and the spiritual at a time when many of us feel unreal and often spiritually hollow.—Yair Huri, Ben-Gurion University 

Written in water and ink, in between the shed blood. Nidaa Khoury's poems take us to the bosom of an ancient woman  . . . an archetype revived. The secret she whispers is 'smaller than words.'—Karin Karakasli, author, Turkey

Nidaa Khoury was born in Fassouta, Upper Galilee, in 1959. Khoury is the author of seven books published in Arabic and several other languages, including The Barefoot River, which appeared in Arabic and Hebrew and The Bitter Crown, censored in Jordan. The Palestinian poet is studied in Israeli universities and widely reviewed by the Arab press.

The founder of the Association of Survival, an NGO for minorities in Israel, Khoury has participated in over 30 international literary and human rights conferences and festivals. Khoury is the subject of the award-winning film, Nidaa Through Silence. Currently a senior lecturer at Ben-Gurion University, Khoury's poem Portal to the Orient is being produced by Sarab for Dance for performance in Palestine. Book of Sins introduces this important Middle Eastern poet to the Caribbean and the Americas.

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Ataturk: Lessons in Leadership

from the Greatest General of the Ottoman Empire

by Austin Bay


Mustafa Kemal Atatürk was a Muslim visionary, revolutionary statesman, and founder of the Republic of Turkey. The West knows him best as the leading Ottoman officer in World War I’s Battle of Gallipoli—a defeat for the Allies, and the Ottoman empire’s greatest victory. Gaining fame as an exemplary military officer, he went on to lead his people in the Turkish War of Independence, abolishing the Ottoman Sultanate, emancipating women, and adopting western dress. Deeply influenced by the Enlightenment, Atatürk sought to transform the empire into a modern and secular nation-state, and during his presidency, embarked upon a program of impressive political, economic, and cultural reforms. Militarily and politically he excelled at all levels of conflict, from the tactical, through the operational, to the strategic, and into the rarified realm of grand strategy.

His ability to integrate the immediate with the ultimate serves as an important lesson for leaders engaged in the twenty-first century’s great military struggles. He became the only leader in history to successfully turn a Muslim nation into a Western parliamentary democracy and secular state, leaving behind a legacy of modernization and military and political leadership.

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The White Masters of the World

From The World and Africa, 1965

By W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois’ Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

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Ancient African Nations

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The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan  The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll  Only a Pawn in Their Game

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for Slavery / George Jackson  / Hurricane Carter

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The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg

The Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804  / January 1, 1804 -- The Founding of Haiti 

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Home  Marvin X Table  Marvin X Bio  Another look at Israel Table    Jonathan Scott Table

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Olmert Smote the Philistines  Israeli Offensive on Gaza Continues  The Biggest Jailbreak in History  Retrospective on Die Nigger Die