Samah Sabawi: ‘When Rafeef Ziadah came to Melbourne…’

10 Mar

Samah Sabawi, Palestinian-Australian renowned playwright, author and commentator recently spoke with Kia Ora Gaza about the up-coming NZ tour by Palestinian performance poet Rafeef Ziadah:

When Rafeef Ziadah came to Melbourne, I hesitated a little about making time to attend her concert, mainly because I am a huge fan and as such I have memorized all her poetry and thought there would be nothing new for me to see or experience in her live performance that I didn’t already see and experience watching her clips online.

Boy was I wrong!

Seeing Rafeef’ live is truly profound and moving beyond anyone’s imagination.

Her powerful stage presence is fueled by the resilience and beauty of the stories she tells.

Each word she utters is conjured from a deep place in her heart, unfiltered, genuine and captivating.

A truly magnificent experience that is not to be missed.

If she is ever performing in your city, make the time to go.

Rafeef Ziadah will present her moving poems with musician Phil Monsour at the above Auckland event 6pm on Sunday 9 April (seats $30 waged, $20 unwaged), and also at the Knox Church hall, 28 Bealey Ave, Christchurch Central 7pm on Friday 7 April (free entry – koha welcome).

Rafeef Ziadah presents ‘Shades of Anger’

9 Mar


‘SHADES OF ANGER’ from Rafeef’s second album We Teach Life, a collection of spoken word with original music compositions, which she brings to the stage in the Abbey Theatre, Dublin, with guitarist Phil Monsour.

You can see Rafeef and Phil in concert at the Dorothy Winstone Centre, Auckland Girls Grammar School, 6pm on Sunday 9 April (Seats $30. Unwaged: $20), or the Christchurch event 7pm on Friday 7 April at the Knox Church, 28 Bealey Ave, Chch Central (Free entry – koha welcome). You can buy Rafeef’s album here –



One-state in Palestine: equality, democracy & justice

8 Mar

(Photo by Justin McIntosh, via Wikicommons)

By Omar Barghouti, Red Pepper, 6 March, 2017

Omar Barghouti asks whether Donald Trump, in his recent break with America’s long-standing support for the two-state solution, has unwittingly revived the debate about the plausibility, indeed the necessity, of a single, democratic state in historic Palestine?
  Omar Barghouti Palestinian human rights defender and independent researcher

At a recent press conference with Netanyahu, Trump casually evoked the one-state formulation as a serious option for ending the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. His guest was hardly able to contain his elation.

After all, given Trump’s avowed bias towards Israel’s hard-right regime, the most reasonable interpretation of his position is that the US will explicitly approve the Israeli agenda of consolidating a single state, a Greater Israel that buries the question of Palestine for good.

Long before Trump came on the scene, Israeli governments have been consistently implementing a ‘strategy of territorial seizure and apartheid‘, creating the current reality whereby Israel controls the entire territory of historic Palestine while denying the indigenous Palestinian population their equal rights by policy and law.

Now, formally pulling the plug on the defunct two-state solution altogether, the thin and worn-out mask of democracy is torn.

While denying even the theoretical rights of the Palestinian people, and in flagrant defiance of international law, Israel is colonizing at full speed what is left of the lands owned by Palestinians, accelerating its gradual ethnic cleansing of entire communities, particularly in Jerusalem and the Naqab (Negev) desert.

In due course, this will not only reveal the nature of Israel’s regime against the Palestinians as one that combines occupation, settler-colonialism and apartheid; it may inadvertently trigger the mother of all unintended consequences.

Emancipated of the illusions of a two-state deal, the absolute majority of Palestinians will seek the most just, ethical and sustainable solution to the question of Palestine, and this cannot but entail decolonization.

Decolonization should not be understood as a blunt and absolute reversal of colonization, putting us back under pre-colonial conditions and undoing whatever rights have been acquired to date.

It should instead be regarded as a negation of the aspects of settler-colonialism that deny the rights of the colonized population.

A secular and democratic single state in historic Palestine (in its British Mandate borders) is the most just and morally coherent solution to this century-old conflict.

It offers hope of reconciling the ostensibly irreconcilable – the inalienable rights of the indigenous Palestinian people, particularly the right to self-determination, and the acquired rights of the indigenized former colonial settlers to live in peace and security.

Inspired in part by the South African Freedom Charter and the Belfast Agreement, the far more modest One State Declaration, authored by a group of Palestinian, Israeli and international academics and activists, affirms that “the historic land of Palestine belongs to all who live in it and to those who were expelled or exiled from it since 1948, regardless of religion, ethnicity, national origin or current citizenship status”.

The system of government that it advocates is founded on “the principle of equality in civil, political, social and cultural rights for all citizens”.

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Rafeef Ziadah is coming to New Zealand

7 Mar


A unique opportunity to experience this stunning wordsmith and performance poet. Not to be missed.

Rafeef and Phil Monsour will also perform in Christchurch at 7pm on Friday 7 April, at the Knox Church Hall, 28 Bealey Ave, Christchurch Central.

Marama Davidson on the Women’s Boat to Gaza

6 Mar

Green MP Marama Davidson speaks about her experience on the Women’s Boat to Gaza – tonight in Christchurch



Ramzy Baroud: Human dignity cannot be negotiated

28 Feb

c5tcwaexmayczmc Palestinian-US writer, Ramzy Baroud

There are those who (in the name of ‘peace’, ‘interfaith dialogue’, ‘compassionate listening’ and whatever other seemingly innocent, but truly sinister designations) constantly try to put a softer spin on the Israeli military occupation, siege, ethnic cleansing and murder of Palestinians.

In every colonial experience in the past, there has always been the colonized and the colonizer, the oppressed the oppressor, the victim and the murderer, the violated and the violator. Except, when it comes to Israeli injustice against the Palestinians: The truth is often inverted, to either appear as if Palestinians are persecuting Israeli Jews, or, at best, the ‘conflict’ is presented as an equal one between two parties with legitimate national aspirations contesting the same peace of land.

It is not. It has never been, and no amount of historical spin will change the facts. The invader has no right to construct a national narrative over someone else’s land. Palestine should not be made the exception.

Only when Palestinian rights are respected, there can ever be meaningful dialogue.

There are things that cannot be negotiated. One is human dignity.

Till then, there is nothing to talk about ..


Ramzy Baroud is a Palestinian-US journalist, author and founder of the and he addressed the NZ Conference on Palestine via video link last year. Here is a recent interview conducted by Dennis Bernstein: Palestinians See More of the Same: Interview with Ramzy Baroud

Gerald Kaufman, Jewish UK lawmaker & Israel critic, dies

28 Feb


By Ali Abunimah, The Electronic Intifada, 27 February 2017

Gerald Kaufman, Jewish UK lawmaker and fierce Israel critic, dies at 86

Gerald Kaufman, the UK lawmaker who famously compared Israel’s actions in Gaza to those of the Nazis who murdered his grandmother, has died at the age of 86 after a long illness.

Kaufman, a Labour Party member for a constituency in the northern English city of Manchester since 1970, was the oldest member of the Commons, the UK’s elected lower house.

“Gerald was always a prominent figure in the party and in Parliament, with his dandy clothes and wonderful demeanor in speaking,” Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said in tribute. “Gerald came from a proud Jewish background. He always wanted to bring peace to the Middle East and it was my pleasure to travel with him to many countries.”

It was undoubtedly because of Kaufman’s Jewish background that his comments drew particular ire from Israel’s surrogates – including the speech he gave in the House of Commons on 15 January 2009, more than two weeks after Israel began its bloody assault on Gaza known as “Operation Cast Lead.”

Powerful speech

“I was brought up as an Orthodox Jew and a Zionist. On a shelf in our kitchen, there was a tin box for the Jewish National Fund, into which we put coins to help the pioneers building a Jewish presence in Palestine,” Kaufman began.

“My parents came to Britain as refugees from Poland. Most of their families were subsequently murdered by the Nazis in the Holocaust,” he recounted. “My grandmother was ill in bed when the Nazis came to her home town of Staszow. A German soldier shot her dead in her bed.”

“My grandmother did not die to provide cover for Israeli soldiers murdering Palestinian grandmothers in Gaza,” Kaufman said.

Kaufman went on to accuse Israeli military spokesperson Avital Leibovich of giving “the reply of a Nazi” when she said in answer to a TV interviewer that most of the Palestinians killed were “militants.”

“I suppose that the Jews fighting for their lives in the Warsaw Ghetto could have been dismissed as militants,” Kaufman said.

“Israel was born out of Jewish terrorism,” Kaufman reminded fellow lawmakers, referring specifically to the notorious 1948 massacre by Zionist militias of Palestinians in the village of Deir Yassin.

“It is time for our government to make clear to the Israeli government that their conduct and policies are unacceptable, and to impose a total arms ban on Israel,” Kaufman concluded. ” It is time for peace, but real peace, not the solution by conquest which is the Israelis’ real goal but which it is impossible for them to achieve. They are not simply war criminals; they are fools.”

Watch the speech in the video above.

kaufmanGerald Kaufman, December 2003. (Martin Rathfelder)

“Living hell”

Sadly, the UK government did not heed Kaufman’s advice, and Israel launched an even more bloody attack on Gaza in the summer of 2014.

In its aftermath, Kaufman spoke in Parliament in support of a ride by hundreds cyclists from Edinburgh to London to raise money for the Middle East Children’s Alliance to help victims recover from the Gaza attack.

He also expressed his frustration at the official lip-service paid to peace while Palestinians continued suffer.

“We rightly talk about the horror of Gaza, on which the Israelis have imposed a total blockade,” he told Parliament in December 2014. “After killing 2,000 people and demolishing huge amounts, they are not permitting any real rebuilding.”

Referring also to conditions Israel has imposed in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, Kaufman called the situation “a living hell for the people who dwell there and want to live peaceful, decent lives.”

“We get clichés from the government. We get minor condemnations, but nothing is being done,” Kaufman charged.

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