TONIGHT ON THE TERRORDOME: Ali Abunimah on Israeli Apartheid Week, and Chris Abani on Literature as a Vehicle for Humanity

6 pm Mountain Time

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Around the world and right here in Edmonton, advocates of the Palestinian cause are presenting the sixth annual Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW).

The IAW is hosted by more than 40 cities worldwide--from Bethlehem and Caracas to New York and Johannesburg. From March 1 to 14, lectures, performances, films and more will educate the public about the punishing effects of Israeli military occupation of Palestine and the unequal status of Arab citizens inside Israel. Organisers also call for boycotts, divestment and sanctions.

A multi-ethnic coalition including Palestinian, Jewish and other activists, IAW organisers framed their demands in a July 2005 Statement:

“full equality for Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel, an end to the occupation and colonization of all Arab lands – including the Golan Heights, the Occupied West Bank with East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip – and dismantling the Wall, and the protection of Palestinian refugees’ right to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in U.N. resolution 194.”

On Monday night, Edmontonians heard the lead speaker for the local series of IAW events, the Palestinian-American journalist and co-founder of the news website Electronic Intifada, Ali Abunimah.

A graduate of Princeton University and the University of Chicago, Abunimah is a well-known analyst of Middle Eastern political affairs and contributes regularly to the Chicago Tribune and the Los Angeles Times. He’s also published articles The New York Times, The Financial Times, Lebanon’s Daily Star and Ha’aretz, among others.

He’s the author of the 2007 book One Country: A Bold Proposal to End the Israeli-Palestinian Impasse, published by Picador, and one of the key figures behind the website The Electronic Intifada.

I spoke with Ali Abunimeh at the University of Alberta campus shortly before his talk.

“Bil’in weekly demonstration reenacts the Avatar Film”, December 02, 2009.

Chris Abani, Nigerian Novelist and Former Political Prisoner

Chris Abani, the dynamic Nigerian novelist and poet. When he was a youth, his James Bond-style spy thriller Masters of the Board delighted readers in Nigeria, but terrified the Nigerian government with the prospect that the book was a blueprint for a coup. So the Nigerian government threw the 18-year-old in jail.

Neither that nor f
uture imprisonment would deter Abani from engaging in political art, nor from embracing life with humour, intelligence and dignity.

A prolific writer, Abani has created other novels such as
Song For Night, The Virgin of Flames, Becoming Abigail and GraceLand. He’s also penned poetry collections such as Hands Washing Water, Dog Woman, Daphne’s Lot, and Kalakuta Republic.

Abani has received numerous honours for his literary and political output, including the PEN USA Freedom-to-Write Award, the California Book Award, the Hurston-Wright Legacy Award, the Hemingway Foundation/PEN Award, and a Guggenheim Award, among others.

He’s currently a Professor at the University of California at Riverside. Chris Abani spoke at the TEDGlobal conference in Arusha, Tanzania, in June 2007, explaining how stories are a key component for generating cultural self-knowledge.


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