Posted by Mona Ahmed on May 29, 2018 in Blog

To mark the 70th anniversary of the Nakba, The Jerusalem Fund & Palestine Center hosted Arab American Institute President, Dr. James Zogby for a talk entitled, “Political Zionism and the Root of Dispossession” on Tuesday, May 22nd. In his talk, Dr. Zogby cited his newly republished book, Palestinians: The Invisible Victims to address how the ideology and practice of political Zionism continues to silence Palestinians and forces them into the role of invisible victims.

Dr. Zogby highlighted the continued need to humanize Palestinians and convey the reality of the occupation that has otherwise been ignored by mainstream media outlets. He described the media coverage of Palestinians in the wake Israel’s recent killing of unarmed Palestinian protesters in Gaza, stating that, “Sixty-three people were killed. Yet not a single face, not a single name, not a single human story emerged. If one Israeli soldier had been killed we would know the name, see the face and hear from the families on the evening news.”

Dr. Zogby went on to credit the work of distinguished Palestinian intellectuals Edward Said and Walid Khalidi for their strength in spreading awareness about the Palestinian struggle and for inspiring the original publication of his book in 1981. Palestinians: The Invisible Victims describes how the system of political Zionism ensured that Palestinians remain a faceless, barbaric enemy. He questioned the public’s skewed perception of the conflict that developed early on and extends until present day, “How did this people become not human at all? Instead the conflict became ‘the Israeli people versus the Palestinian problem’. You have to solve the problem so that the people can have peace.”

With the Trump administration furthering Israel’s assault on Palestinian rights, as they opened the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem, Dr. Zogby insists that now more than ever Palestinian stories need to be heard and their struggle against apartheid be known. He stated, “An injustice was done to an entire people, who need to be written back into history and made visible.” Dr. Zogby insisted that advocacy on this issue must be, “pro-Palestine and not simply anti-Israel.” He noted that the resolution must benefit both peoples and provide a feasible arrangement for both sides to prosper.  

At the end of his presentation, Dr. Zogby engaged the audience in a short question and answer session to open a larger conversation about the occupation and Palestinian advocacy in the United States. Responding to an audience member’s question about the shift in U.S.-Israel relations, Dr. Zogby said, “I think there has been a shift in public opinion as we’ve seen with the partisan gap on the issue. However, there has yet to be seen any policy shifts. For that to happen, we have to see political change which will only occur in the context of an election.”

Dr. Zogby closed by thanking the audience for their time and stating,“Hopefully, the book will stir some debate, and shed some light on what the Palestinians have endured. It tells the story of what happened in the early years of the occupation.”

Miss the talk? Don’t worry! Dr. Zogby’s talk can be found here.

Want the book? Buy it here.