Monday, August 16, 2010

Palestinian roots of Western civilization: an interview with Basem Ra'ad

(Basem Ra'ad is a professor at Al-Quds University in occupied East Jerusalem. For the past two decades, he has been researching the ancient past of Palestine, much of which concerns the Western and Israeli appropriation of ancient languages and cultures, from the Canaanite alphabet to the Canaanite pantheon of gods and goddesses.)

Jonathan Scott: One of the main points of your book is that the blueprint for Israel's conquest of Palestine and its oppression of the Palestinians is the Old Testament Bible. In Western secular society many will surely disagree, and yet you spend a good part of the book explaining the nature of this relationship.

Basem Ra'ad: Because many people in the West still cannot see the uses the West has made of that same Old Testament model and how invested it is in the recent progress of Western civilization and the colonizing projects that have benefited the West, especially the US. I explain in detail how Western civilization, a fairly recent construct, includes not only ownership of ancient Greek and Roman civilizations, but also the Bible and the models in it. Zionism has been exploiting this construct, first in getting the West to support it, whether through [British Lord] Balfour's promise in 1917 or US support in 1947 and later, or in its propaganda and other implementations.
JS: What's the worst falsification?

BR: That's pretty easy: the replacement of a genuine history of the people with religious narratives that pretend to be history. The most basic falsification is that the Palestinians that exist on the land are "Arabs," with the emphasis on a meaning of "Arab" determined by various western biasing factors that give the impression of them as nomadic or as descendants from the Muslim conquest in the 7th century CE. This is the cornerstone of the Zionist claim system, which then gives present "Jews," who are confused with ancient "Hebrews," "Israelites" and ancient Jews, prior possession. It is also one of the self-colonizing elements in the thinking of some Palestinians and Arabs. One needs to dismantle the myth of this Zionist claim system, and affirm the continuity of the population over millennia and their farming-village character regardless of the shifts in religious affiliation. I provide evidence of that, which by the way is a conclusion that even early Zionist writers, and even the most biased travelers, confirm, directly or indirectly.
Read more-Electronic Intifada

No comments: