We'd like to respond to a recent online article which raised some concerns about the initial description of our project. First of all, as the moderators we would like to thank the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) for their feedback and state that we are appalled and deeply saddened by the human rights crisis in Gaza and the West Bank, and by the daily, systematic oppression that Palestinians face in light of the occupation. We are both against normalization of any kind, and would like to take this opportunity to clarify that the aim of the blog is to understand how writers and filmmakers are responding to the violence and resisting the occupation on both sides. To this end, we have chosen to focus some of our dispatches on political and cultural initiatives that bring Palestinians and Israelis together to work for human rights, political equality, and dialogue, which we believe are of utmost importance right now. We recognize, however, that such initiatives and dialogues can only be effective if the Israeli parties involved acknowledge and take responsibility for their relative position of political privilege and power vis-à-vis Palestinians; in fact, we believe that such an acknowledgment must be an integral part of any dialogue between Israelis and Palestinians. The Israeli government has a vested interest in keeping the Israeli public ignorant of the situation in the territories and ignorant of the effects of the occupation on Palestinians; such ignorance is used to facilitate a culture of fear and justify military action. Both the Israeli and the Western media portray very few examples of Israelis and Palestinians working toward future equality by resisting the occupation, be it through literature, film, or activism. The lack of media coverage in this regard only exacerbates the public cynicism and hopelessness that accompany the terrible violence in the region.
As American citizens of Middle Eastern descent we believe that diplomatic and politically responsible efforts toward the promotion of cultural awareness are important elements in bringing about global change. This being said, it is also important to clarify that Words without Borders is devoted to cultivating cultural understanding and dialogue through the promotion of international literature within the United States, and that it is not by definition a political organization. Nevertheless, we hope that our views as the authors of the project have been made more clear. Again, we thank PACBI for their feedback, and we hope to have further communication as we go forward.
Published Aug 12, 2010 Copyright 2010 Azareen Van der Vliet Oloomi and Chana Morgenstern