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Why is criticism of Zionism censored?


January 19, 2014 -On a rainy and miserably cold evening last month I attended the opening ceremony for the Bethlehem Unwrapped programme, a major interactive art installation in the middle of St. James' Church courtyard in central London. The installation turned out to be a replica of the apartheid wall built by Israel within the Occupied Palestinian Territories. It was astounding, not only by the scale of the wall but also that it was built just a stone's throw from Piccadilly Circus. The subsequent messages written on the "wall" led to me to appreciate the installation with some respect. That is, until my own graffiti was censored...

[104269]



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Why is criticism of Zionism censored?

Kinnan Zaloom

January 19, 2014

On a rainy and miserably cold evening last month I attended the opening ceremony for the Bethlehem Unwrapped programme, a major interactive art installation in the middle of St. James' Church courtyard in central London. The installation turned out to be a replica of the apartheid wall built by Israel within the Occupied Palestinian Territories. It was astounding, not only by the scale of the wall but also that it was built just a stone's throw from Piccadilly Circus. The subsequent messages written on the "wall" led to me to appreciate the installation with some respect. That is, until my own graffiti was censored.

The mock-up of the Apartheid Wall made us confront what Palestinians are presented with on a daily basis. At eight metres high, the lifeless grey concrete casts a shadow of pure hate and discrimination across the West Bank; it is not only a physical barrier but also a mental one. The organisers of the Bethlehem Unwrapped event wanted to "reach out to the people of Bethlehem behind the wall, celebrating the incredible hope and peace and joy and life of those people". In truth, the people of Bethlehem need more hope and joy but celebrating this in the heart of London does not alert the ignorant about the harsh reality that the majority of Palestinians face every day behind the Israelis' wall.

What did I write on the wall that was too much for the organisers? Why was it censored? I wanted to send a message of solidarity to the people of Bethlehem and what the wall meant to me, so I quoted from Orwell's 1984: "2+2=5", followed by, "ZIONISM IS THE CANCER OF THE WORLD".

The Israeli "separation barrier" snakes across the land of Palestine like a malignant tumour, cutting through lives and causing misery to many. It is a tool used by the Zionists to maintain their system of apartheid in the Palestinian territories. That is why I labelled it as the cancer of the world which should, like all cancers, be treated and removed, to spare the world its evil.

To my dismay, the Orwellian quote came to full ironic life. By the time that I had gone into a bookshop and returned to the churchyard, my main message was obliterated because it was deemed to be "abusive". It did not contain coarse language, nor did it incite violence, so why was it censored? Why is the ideology of Zionism so protected when it is the cause of the suffering of the people of Palestine?

Not only was this censorship of my opinion, it was also an attempt to restrict debate. The replica wall built in solidarity became a barrier to personal beliefs. It seems as if "2+2=5" is very relevant when one speaks out against Zionism. The "Z word" is the elephant in the room that people are afraid to discuss, whether at university or in serious debate. From being accused of "anti-Semitism" for criticising Zionists to being told by professors of political science that the Arab-Israel conflict is "too difficult and complex" to discuss in a debate about UN intervention, society is making it much more difficult for us to discuss what is restricting the rights of the Palestinian people.

Even if my judgement about Zionism is wrong and misguided, I am not allowed to try to understand why; the topic is off-limits. I am only left with the option to accept what has happened, what is happening and what is going to happen as a result of Zionism because I'm not clever or informed enough ever to make a change.

Until as a society we can have a frank and open discussion about the Arab-Israel conflict and are open to all sides of the argument, Zionism to me will always remain the cancer which is destroying one aspect of our civilisation. Until we get the answer to 2+2, I am happy to stay "abusive"; it's much better than being ignorant.




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:: Article nr. 104269 sent on 20-jan-2014 19:13 ECT

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