Washington Report on Middle East Affairs / March 24, 2019
Susan Abulhawa will present the keynote speech at the sixth Israel Lobby & American Policy Conference at the National Press Club in Washington, DC on March 22. Her address is entitled “Israel Beyond Apartheid,” and will examine the nature of Israel’s presence in the world, beginning with its claim to be the “only democracy in the Middle East” vs its reality as an apartheid nation. What are the roles Israel has assumed beyond colonizing Palestine in terms of Israel’s relationships to other nations, to the natural world, and to history?
As a highly regarded Palestinian author who has written internationally acclaimed bestsellers, Abulhawa is often invited to international poetry or literary festivals. Audiences in every country in the world can listen to her voice—except in her own homeland.
In November 2018, Israeli authorities barred her entry at Tel Aviv’s Ben-Gurion Airport and prevented her from participating in panel discussions at a literature festival in Ramallah and Jerusalem. She was detained for 32 hours, many of them spent in an Israeli jail cell, as she appealed the decision. An Israeli court upheld her deportation.
From Abdulhawa’s statement on her deportation: “It pains me that we can meet anywhere in the world except in Palestine, the place to which we belong, from whence our stories emerge and where all our turns eventually lead. We cannot meet on soil that has been fertilized for millennia by the bodies of our ancestors and watered by the tears and blood of Palestine’s sons and daughters who daily fight for her … I want to leave you with one more thought I had in that jail cell, and it is this: Israel is spiritually, emotionally and culturally small despite the large guns they point at us — or perhaps precisely because of them. It is to their own detriment that they cannot accept our presence in our homeland, because our humanity remains intact and our art is beautiful and life affirming, and we aren’t going anywhere but home.”