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Saturday, February 14, 2009

Another Palestinian Arab against peace

A somewhat strange story came across the Palestinian Arabic media today, talking about a prominent Palestinian Arab feminist writer who refused to share a prestigious French award with an Israeli. The only place I could find an English version was published weeks ago, though, at an Arab site called Women Gateway:
Palestinian novelist Dr Sahar Khalifa has refused to share 2009 French Simon de Beauvoir award with an Israeli author. The award was given to mark the 100-year birth anniversary of French philosopher Simon de Beauvoir.

Sahar justified her refusal to Al Jazeeera.net as rejection to all forms of normalisation of ties with Israel. She said that sharing the award with an Israeli comes as accepting Israel. She asked for reasons to nominate an Israeli author with her. “The award was nominated to create peace between the two countries and that couldn’t be justified as prizes couldn’t reduce the aggressions of Israel. The Nobel prize given to Yasser Arafat, Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres failed to promote peace.”

Sahar doesn’t regret turning down the award, despite her love to Simon de Beauvoir. The novelist has won the reader prize in France for her novel “Hot Spring” by winning 70% of votes of French readers.

Sahar asked also for reasons to choose the Israel writer who only wrote one article about religious Jewish women.
From PalToday's version of the story, it appears that the Israeli who was to share the award was Tzvia Greenfield, a left-wing Orthodox MK in the Meretz party. The Firas Press version says that she rejected the award because it would imply a "kind of normalization with Israel."

Isn't it odd that when any Zionist rejects the idea of a Palestinian Arab state they are labeled as extremists and hardliners, but when prominent Palestinian Arabs reject the idea of Israel - a state that has existed for decades - they typically represent the intellectual elite? (I'm including people like Rashid Khalidi, Columbia professor and Obama friend, who felt that Yasir Arafat was not terrorist enough for him.)

Why would people consider giving a prize to someone who explicitly rejects any peace that includes Israel's continued existence as the only Jewish state on the planet?
The prize is awarded every year to a remarkable personality whose courage and thoughts are examples for everybody, in the spirit of Simone de Beauvoir who wrote: "The ultimate end, for which human beings should aim, is liberty, the only capable [thing], to establish every end on.
Does Khalifa sound like she fits that description?

The other odd part about this story is that the 2009 Simone de Beauvoir Prize was already given, to a women's rights group in Iran. it is unclear when Khalifa had the opportunity to reject the award - if it is true, it must have happened months ago. If so, why is she mentioning it now?

I could also not find any mention of her novel "Hot Spring" (in transliterated Arabic "Rabee’ Har") being popular in France or anywhere else. The 70% number seems exaggerated or fictional. I think it means this book, "The End of Spring," with a pro-terrorist bent:
In The End of Spring, Sahar Khalifeh chronicles the struggle of the Palestinian people with a humane depiction of Palestinian resistance fighters during the 2002 siege of Yasir Arafat’s official headquarters. Khalifeh’s tender and moving portrayal of her protagonists delves into the inner consciences of the men and women and children who were involved in the actual resistance—or were simply caught in the middle.
Of course, the Muqata was where Arafat was protecting terrorists from Israel - people he had agreed to keep in prison. Her "tender and moving protrayal" of terrorists seems to be a strange background for a prize given by people who want to promite peace.

If one would measure Sahar Khalifa by the same yardstick that the world measures Zionists, she would be considered an intransigent, ultra-right wing warmonger. By any objective measure, her feelings towards Israelis are more extreme than Avigdor Lieberman's feelings towards Arabs. But since she is a Palestinian Arab and a woman to boot, she is not considered a terrorist supporter - instead she is an admired fighter for human rights.