Monday, January 4, 2010

Apparently, Bono's never heard of Jamal Juma'

To be honest, I'm not sure why Bono gets an op-ed column in the New York Times. Regardless, the Times on January 2 carried an op-ed in which the U-2 lead singer and founder of the ONE campaign wrote about 10 things he would like to see happen, globally, over the next 1o years. His New Year's wish list includes medical developments, increased access to rotavirus drugs to combat HIV/AIDS, sexier American cars...and nonviolent revolution. After quoting President Obama's Nobel Prize speech, mentioning celebrations of the fall of the Berlin Wall, and commending "the brave Iranians who continue to take to the streets despite the certainty of brutal repression," Bono ends with this:
"I’ll place my hopes on the possibility — however remote at the moment — that the regimes in North Korea, Myanmar and elsewhere are taking note of the trouble an aroused citizenry can give to tyrants, and that people in places filled with rage and despair, places like the Palestinian territories, will in the days ahead find among them their Gandhi, their King, their Aung San Suu Kyi."
Apparently Bono has never heard of Jamal Juma'. In fact, Palestinians have already found among them many who are willing to take up the banner of nonviolent resistance against Israeli occupation and apartheid. They have found many international and Israeli partners willing to stand alongside them in this effort. The Israeli military has found these individuals, too--and is throwing them in jail, often without charge. But you wouldn't know it from media coverage of Israel/Palestine, nor from President Obama's speeches in Cairo and Oslo. Why hasn't Bono heard the names of Jamal Juma', Mohammad Othman, Abdallah Abu Rahmah, and other Palestinians who have been jailed for their resistance to modern apartheid, their efforts to stop the Wall being built on their land, their promotion of nonviolent tactics of boycott and divestment? Is he simply unaware of the campaigns of nonviolent resistance being waged in Palestinian villages such as Bil'in and Jayyous? Does he not know about the weekly protest being held against the evictions of Palestinians and the confiscation of their houses for Israeli settlers in East Jerusalem--protests that include the participation of Palestinians, Israelis, and internationals, including jailed U.S. citizen Ryan Olander? Certainly, he has not read Majida Abu Rahmah, writing of her imprisoned husband and the struggle of her village, Bil'in, against the Wall and settlements that have cut them off from most of their land:
"Twelve hours after Abdallah was taken to a military jail from our home, I listened as President Obama received the Nobel Peace Prize and spoke of "the men and women around the world who have been jailed and beaten in the pursuit of justice." I thought of Bassem, Adeeb and my husband, and wondered if President Obama will take action to support our struggle for freedom."
I wonder what Bono would think if he watched this segment from The Real News Network, which portrays not only the repression of Israeli and Palestinian grassroots activists but reveals the apartheid distinctions with which Israeli prisoners and Palestinian prisoners are treated: Let's ask him. Find out more about Israel's anti-apartheid prisoners here. Read the New York Times' letter to the editor guidelines here. And get tips on writing letters to the editor here. Bono is hoping for a decade of nonviolent resistance to oppression. We're not just hoping. We know it's happening--and we are going to continue to look for ways to support it, whether the New York Times considers it worthy of coverage, or not. (Update: A representative of Adalah-NY, one of our 325 member groups, has brought to our attention that Bono has, in the past, canceled gigs in Israel after pressure from the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI). This is from an April 2009 PACBI open letter:
"The injustice and the violent suppression of the Palestinian struggle for freedom has lasted too long. To bring an end to this oppression, Palestinian civil society has called on people of conscience throughout the world to take a stand and support our struggle for freedom by adopting boycott, divestments and sanctions (BDS) against Israel until it fully complies with international law and recognizes our inalienable rights. This BDS call has received resounding international support, and has been endorsed by a number of prominent international cultural figures and Israeli artists, including Aharon Shabtai, John Berger, Ken Loach, Arundhati Roy, Roger Waters, John Williams and others. Other high profile artists have also heeded our call by canceling gigs in Israel; these included Bono, Bjork, Snoop Dogg and Jean Luc Goddard."
A recent article in YNet, however, reports that U2 is planning a show in Israel this summer, along with other high profile artists such as Santana, Beyoncé, , and Elton John. So how aware is Bono of nonviolent resistance to the Israeli occupation, including BDS? And if he is more aware than I thought...why is he ignoring it in the NYT and planning a show in Israel?)