Tuesday, March 03, 2009

More than a Straw Man

I've been reading some stuff recently by John Strawson, Reader in Law at the University of East London, and also on faculty at the Palestinian Birzeit University. Prof. Strawson specializes in international law, Middle East studies and Islamic jurisprudence, with a particular focus on post-colonial thought. And he is a fascinating, fascinating man. From a standpoint that is extremely pro-Palestinian, he nevertheless comes off as meticulously fair-minded, committed to justice, unwilling to countenance anti-Semitism, and engaged with Israeli and Jewish perspectives.

Here is Strawson talking about issues of law and justice in the context of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. And here (update: seriously this time) he is opposing the AUT boycott of Israeli universities.

It's not that I agree with Prof. Strawson on everything. But he is perhaps the clearest representative I have yet seen of someone non-Palestinian, who clearly and unambiguously announces himself to be a pro-Palestinian activist and adopts a post-colonial standpoint, articulating his stances that don't immediately worry or alienate me.

Very fascinating. And very impressive.


Joe said...

I think one of your links is wrong. Unless Professor Strawson is also a lawyer for Norm Coleman.

Anonymous said...

re: "the wall is saying very strongly: the people on the other side are barbarians..."
In a way I think colonialist theory is just a way to "other" as well. It makes it so easy to hate the "racist settlers" (and some of them can be very hateful) But I think about the wall on tunnel road, before the the wall was built you took your life in your hands driving it, there were snipers. I think it's easy to just ignore that since it's like: what were those racist colonialist oppressors doing trying to drive into the territory of Judea anyway? Colonialist theory will focus focus focus on the racism of the settlers and that's it. Do you hear people quoting rancid bits of Jew hatred that emanate out of SOME ( not all) Palestinian people's mouths? Nope. That' invisible partly due to language barriers but mainly due to the dominant paradigm. It's easier to frame or define or call the "settlers" as racist . They make it easy with the despicable things "they" (sometimes) say and do. People SEE building a wall is "oppressive" but not that suicide bombing a bus is. Because there is no other paradigm once your in the colonialist paradigm that's it. It can only reject or minimize the idea that suicide bombings or snipers taking shots at Jews on tunnel road are oppressive acts of Jew hatred. And it view ALL acts of self-defence even non-violent ones such as walls or checkpoints as oppression. It's a closed system. And 2state won't change that-because the goal of post colonialism is to be post colonialist and Israel as a Jewish state has been framed as colonialist.