No matter how much you thought you understood–or did not understand–about Palestine and Israel, you would have come away from Noura Erakat’s first talk in Honolulu with new information and a new lens through which to look at the laws, practices and ideologies that divide two peoples living in one land, keeping one in a continuing state of subjugation. You would have come away with a better understanding of the continuing Palestinian resistance to being removed from their land, separated from their families, divided from their neighbors, delegitimized as citizens, and as human beings. You would have heard her explain how what is going on in Gaza and the West Bank is repeatedly framed simply as a battle between Israel and Hamas even though history tells a much more complex and layered story. You would have heard an authoritative analysis by someone who studies and teaches human rights and the laws that should prevail in war and occupation, explain how those laws have been violated by Israel, with impunity.
Timothy Mason, Pastor of Calvary by the Sea where the talk was held, opened the evening remembering his visit to Bethlehem several years ago. He spoke about the lack of safe spaces for conversation and community. About the intimidating presence of a wall that seemed to go on forever, and razor wire at the Church of the Nativity. Jon Osorio spoke about his visit to West Papua, handed over to Indonesia “at the end of an assault rifle.” And he sang of the solidarity that unites indigenous peoples in different geographies who continue to suffer occupation of their lands, exploitation of their resources, truncation of their liberties.
Those who missed the Friday evening talk will have two other opportunities to hear this Palestinian American human rights lawyer, activist and professor from George Mason University on Sunday Nov 30 from 1-2.30 p.m. at St. Andrew’s Cathedral and on Monday Dec 1 from 5-8p.m. at the University of Hawaii, Manoa, Kamakakūokalani Center for Hawaiian Studies Halau.
If you are troubled by not knowing enough about how US taxpayers are helping to fund oppression, come and listen to what Noura Erakat has to say. If you want to better understand the realities of life for a people whose ability to trade, to fish, to move, to visit, to learn, to live ordinary lives filled with love and laughter instead of the constant struggle to stay alive in a space made smaller and more resource-stripped every day, come listen to Noura Erakat. If you would like to take some action to respond to what you learn, come to the talks. Learn about efforts to divest and apply economic pressure on Israel to respect the numerous UN resolutions that have been passed calling for their observance of the Geneva Convention for the protection of civilians in times of war and an end to land grabs, the illegal demolition of homes, collective punishment, and the continuing establishment of illegal settlements. As Noura Erakat said in closing: “We are not helpless. And we are all complicit.”