Saturday, November 8, 2008

Obama's VP pick right for Israel?

The following essay by Susan was published in the Washington Times on 18 September 08

McCain eclipsed the democratic convention buzz, gained women voters, simultaneously reassured middle to far right conservatives and may have positioned a female presidential candidate for the Republican ticket for future elections. It makes sense. On the other hand, the best explanations for Barack Obama's choice of Joseph Biden still don't jibe.

It's true that Mr. Biden brings some political experience to Mr. Obama's ticket, but so could many of Mr. Obama's other choices. Mr. Biden also narrows the race gap, which unfortunately still exists in America. But again, so could any of the other choices.

So, what then? Mr. Biden, the self-proclaimed Zionist, assuages Israeli and Jewish American fears that Mr. Obama might not be so accommodating to Israel.

I know it's hard for the average American to believe that Israeli interests could have such influence on a presidential election. Israeli propaganda does an outstandingly good job of diffusing any meaningful debate on the Middle East or Israel's role in shaping our foreign policies. Whether by defaming Jimmy Carter for daring to speak out or by censoring or ignoring important scholastic books such as "The Israel Lobby" by Professors Walt and Mearsheimer, Americans are kept ignorant of just how important it is to please Israel in order to have a real chance at occupying an elected post in Washington. Every politician, newsman, and pundit knows that you cannot be elected in Washington without the blessing of the American Israel Political Action Committee (AIPAC), known simply as "The Lobby" in Washington.

Under the Clinton administration, the head of AIPAC had to resign after someone leaked a tape of him discussing how AIPAC was negotiating with the president about whom he should select for Secretary of State. It is undeniably the most powerful foreign interest group in Washington, and arguably the most powerful lobby in general.

Henry Siegman, former head of the American Jewish Congress and a Middle East expert at the Council on Foreign Relations admitted that "When it comes to the Israeli-Arab conflict, the terms of debate are so influenced by organized Jewish groups, like AIPAC, that to be critical of Israel is to deny oneself the ability to succeed in American politics." A noteworthy example of the great influence Israel wields on American foreign policy came in the summer of 2006, when Israel attacked Lebanon. As the world over condemned the attack, we stood alone in support of Israel. On July 18, the Senate unanimously approved a resolution "condemning Hamas and Hezbollah and their state sponsors and supporting Israel's exercise of its right to self-defense." After language was removed from the bill urging "all sides to protect innocent civilian life and infrastructure," the House version passed by a landslide, 410-to-8.

Thus, in response to the kidnapping of two Israeli soldiers (which followed the killing of a Lebanese man inside Lebanon), Israel killed and maimed thousands of civilians, decimated civilian infrastructure, and littered Southern Lebanon with over 100,000 of the world-banned unexploded cluster bombs. Congress unequivocally approved and supported Israel's actions with this resolution, which AIPAC actually wrote! Even when a post-war analysis by the State Department was delivered to Nancy Pelosi and Mr. Biden, asserting that Israel may have violated the Arms Export Control Act with its use of American-made cluster munitions in Lebanon, bipartisan support of Israel remained unwavering.

This potentially explosive report detailing how Israel may have used American supplied weapons to commit war crimes was ignored by Mr. Biden and Mrs. Pelosi, both of whom have traveled to Israel repeatedly, along with scores of other politicians, genuflecting as they always do to extol the virtues of the Jewish State and profess undying and uncompromising support for a country that is currently in violation of at least 200 UN Resolutions and has been condemned in the harshest terms by human rights organizations worldwide. It is a country that has been repeatedly caught spying on America (most recently, two top AIPAC officials were indicted based on evidence that they accepted and passed on to Israel confidential national security secrets from a Defense Department analyst working with AIPAC) and which continues to defy U.S. demands to stop annexing and colonizing private Palestinian property with illegal Jewish-only settlements. One would think such behavior would at least draw some criticism from candidates. But rarely does any politician dare.

Mr. Biden has proved himself an acolyte of Israel. In an interview with Shalom TV, Mr. Biden proclaimed: "I am a Zionist." Ira Forman, the executive director of the National Jewish Democratic Council said that "Biden is a great friend … with a solid pro-Israel record." Ladies and gentlemen, Mr. Biden brings "The Lobby" to Mr. Obama's corner and that's why he was picked. Let us at least open up the discussion to include the influence of this foreign interest lobby. Americans deserve to understand the forces behind decisions that affect us all individually and collectively as a nation.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

A couple of videos, finally up: 1) An interview at The Hague, 2) Borders bookstore

The Hague:

Borders Bookstore:

Zionists lash out at Susan and other Arab writers

An article by the Israel Hasbara Committee lashed out at Arab writers and their supporters for the boycott of the Salon du Livre. The article is here:; and the part pertaining to susan is below:

Outlandish claims that were once limited to far-out Islamist websites are now comfortably seated in the mainstream media. Susan Abulhawa is indignant because the Paris Book Fair honored Israel “a 60 year old country established in place of the ancient land of Palestine” (Lib?ration March 18). The Jews have turned a “once multi-religious, multi-ethnic, and multi-cultural land” into a place reserved for Jews only. "Jesus was Palestinian, some Palestinians are Canaanites, Israel is guilty of ethnic cleansing, apartheid, and turning Gaza into a concentration camp. Palestinians are forced to negotiate for their basic human rights." Abulhawa, invited by Fox News to comment on the Annapolis meeting politely, explained to a dimwitted reporter that the Palestinians should not be asked to negotiate with their oppressors. The prestigious Buchet-Chastel will publish the French translation of Albuhama’s novel Scar of David, in which a Palestinian child stolen by an Israeli soldier in 1948 becomes a soldier in turn and discovers his Palestinian brother Youssef...

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Essay, published in THE CANADIAN, 15 May 08

Sixty Years of Dispossession, Humiliation, and Oppression in the Middle East

We watch these celebrations with an ineffable collective loss and grief, and an equally deep vow never to give up our basic rights as the natives of Palestine.

I recently took part in a four-person panel discussion of solutions to the conflict that arose 60 years ago and still persists when Israel was established in Palestine, displacing more than half of the native Palestinian population. We were two Jews and two Palestinians and I was the only woman.

I listened carefully to each of my fellow panellists talk about the two-state solution and heard potential fixes for everything from the settlements and water, to regional balance of power and refugees. The other Palestinian on the panel still believed in the two-state solution even though it is neither "ideal nor just" but he was willing to compromise anyway. Just to live. To walk home without going through five checkpoints. I wasn't as willing. He lives there, I don't. I get it. But I'm Palestinian too. And the country they stole was also my inheritance, my history and heritage, my home where my family has lived for centuries.

Creating a disjointed Palestinian state completely surrounded by Israel on what is now less than 16% of historic Palestine is and always was unjust and immoral, as it overrides basic principles of justice and international law and precludes repatriation for over 5 million refugees. The other panellists felt that I essentially was unrealistic or naïve. I listened again to all the things that Israel would "never agree to" and a rehashing of the endless "peace initiatives" in all the glory of their persistent failures to do anything but increase Palestinian misery.

What Israel will or will not "agree to" ought to be moot because Israel has never been vague about its nefarious intentions to have all of Palestine without Palestinians. Everything they've said and everything they've done and continue to do speak to this fact. It is not about what Israel will or will not accept, but whether we and all of humanity, Jews and Gentiles alike, will accept that Palestinians should not have certain self-evident and inalienable rights accorded to the rest of humanity.

Each initiative to settle this conflict reflects some creative design to circumvent Palestinian basic human rights in order to accommodate Israel's desire for religious purity. The world is willing to leave five million Palestinian refugees out in the cold ("to be settled at a later date") because Israel insists on "Judaising" the homes, cemeteries, farms, and history they stole from them.
The international community raises no objection to Israel's eternal control of all Palestinian borders, economy, water, and air. Gaza's 1.6 million human beings languish in darkness, mass hunger and misery deliberately imposed by Israel, without so much a peep from the Security Council.

It is not clear to me what we have done to the world that we should be so excluded from humanity, but this persistent trampling of our human rights must end. Either nations have accepted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as a document that applies equally to all human beings, or we do away with that document all together and join to Israel's law of the jungle. There can be no selective application of its principles - principles that guarantee the right of refugees to return to their homes; that promise us a right to our own history and heritage and freedom from foreign occupation and oppression.

We are not less human that we should be expected to continue to "negotiate" with our oppressors for basic human rights. For decades now we have extended our collective hand in willingness to accept the two-state solution, a desperate offer of great compromise on our part. And for that same length of time, Israel has continued to steal more and more of our land, to kill, maim, and dispossess more and more of us. The daily horrors inflicted on my countrymen have nothing to do with terrorism or our corrupt leadership. Our great crime is that we are not Jewish. We are oppressed, denied, humiliated daily, dispossessed and robbed because we are not Jewish.

The concepts of human equality, human dignity, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are not the exclusive privies of West. They are also ours and we are not powerless to demand them. Ours is the power of an indigenous people struggling against a colonial oppressor hell-bent on taking our place, even though there is space enough for both peoples.

History has already taught us that military might is no match for such a power. Increasingly, people of conscience, including our Jewish brothers and sisters, throughout the world are speaking up for our rights, often at great personal expense to themselves. Academics, labour unions, churches, and civic institutions around the globe are divesting from Israel. We should stop engaging in theoretical debates about a dead and bloated two-state solution, rummaging through the wreckage of countless peace initiatives, giving up more and more, hoping this merciless military occupation will have mercy on us.

Human worth cannot be measured by arbitrary standards, like skin color or religion. History will teach us this lesson yet again, and it will judge harshly all the 60th anniversary celebrations taking place around the world on this day when we grieve for the identity, land, and heritage taken from us because we are not Jewish. We watch these celebrations with an ineffable collective loss and grief, and an equally deep vow never to give up our basic rights as the natives of Palestine.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Additional Photos from Paris

most of these pictures were taken at her reading at the Shakespeare and Company bookstore. Paris, France

Friday, April 25, 2008

I'M SO EXCITED!!! my first song

Mark invited me to post directly on this site to share with you my first song. I've been taking guitar lessons from a most excellent teacher and friend for the past couple of months. Even though I can't yet read or write music, Dennis encouraged me to try to write something; so, I did. I gave him the lyrics and sang the melody for him. He listened and transcribed the music. I tried to record the song in my voice, but when he played it back to me it sounded more like a train wreck; so, Dennis recorded it in his voice. Here it is!

Susie on Dubai TV during the Salon du Livre

Susan on Radio Monte Carlo in France [i forgot to post it earlier]

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The Gift of Olive Oil

A token of love…
Something from the soil of things shared:

a heritage
a longing
a wound
a love

The sweet and bitter tastes of centuries gone.
The hard caress of weatherworn hands of pickers
The tales of backbreaking toil, scribbled on beautiful fellaheen faces.
The ballads of old, sung to trees and sleepless Palestinian children
The untamed agonies of loss and expired love,

the soot of memory,
the breath of hope,
the fury,
the tears of babes
and patriarchs,
mothers and whores,
gods and men.

This nectar of tragedy is ours to consume
Ours to love
Ours to bury and bring back to life

Take it from their tireless hands
Their boundless capacity to endure

And without bread or za’atar, dip your finger in this oil
Press it between your tongue and palate

Do it again
Until you hear the primal calls of an earth packed beneath boot steps and tank treads
...and it will haunt you with an unexpected song.

-by susan abulhawa

Friday, March 21, 2008

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

A blog entry about Susan's reading in Paris

from Anne-Marie of "Voice of a City" in Paris

Susan in LIBERATION, a leading French newspaper

Click below to read a translation of Susan's essay "Why will no one hear our voice"

Review of Les Matins de Jenine on France3 Livre Jour

click below:

a beautiful review, matched with historic footage, by Olivier Barrot on France3 Livre Jour

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Susan Abulhawa at the Salon du Livre

Susan Abulhawa is currently in Paris for the Salon du Livre. Yesterday, she was interviewed on France 24 Arabic and held a debate with opposing views on the Salon du Livre's decision to honor Israel this year and the writer's boycott that ensued as a result. The debate was very lively and Susan's arguments were powerful, succinct, and well-stated. The video will be posted here as it becomes available to us.

The following are photos from a dinner held at Vera Michalski's home, proprietor of Buchet-Chastel, where approximately 50 people, including journalists, dipolomats, writers, artists, and publishers, gathered in honor of Susan's book, Les Matins de Jenine.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Why Will No One Hear Our Voice?

The following open letter was translated into French and the response from the Salon du Livre was generally dismissive. However, it has garnered considerable attention from French media and Susan will be giving several French television interviews and she will hold scheduled book signings in Paris bookstores not affiliated with the Salon du Livre. A schedule of these events will be posted soon.

No matter how great the injustice done to us Palestinians or how deeply our grief curls into time and into the earth, it seems the world still refuses to hear our voice and insists that we shall not exist in history except as squatters, terrorists, or subhuman creatures unworthy of our own land and heritage or of the right to defend ourselves and resist oppression. The latest institution to contribute to the erasure of millennia of our Palestinian culture and history is the Salon du Livre, with great influence from the French Ministry of Culture.

Every year this book fair chooses one country to honor and showcase its contemporary writers. This year, the choice was Israel: a 60 year old country established in place of the ancient land of Palestine with an imported population (Europe, the former Soviet Union, U.S.A., Ethiopia, etc.) in place of the native population, the Palestinians, who were ethnically cleansed from most of the land and who still languish in the abject conditions of refugee camps, under a cruel military occupation, or at the whims of winds that swirl us about in a Diaspora. Israel, with an abysmal human rights record, leading the world with the most violations of international laws and UN Resolutions, has taken a land once multi-religious, multi-ethnic, and multi-cultural and turned into a place of exclusivity for Jews only. This country, called an Apartheid State by moral authorities the likes of Desmond Tutu and Jimmy Carter and accused of Nuremburg crimes by leading scholars of international law like Drs. Francis Boyle and Richard Falk, is the nation that France has chosen to celebrate at its most celebrated Book Fair.

Yet, until recently, I thought we still had a chance in March. I naively thought that France would welcome our narrative and present my book, The Scar of David, especially since the French version (Les matins de Jenine) is being released on 6 March. It is a story that I pulled it from the depths of my country’s anguished soul and from the most primal scream to be heard and recognized for the violated nation that we are. But no Palestinian [even Palestinian-Israelis] are invited and I was thus encouraged not to come.

How can this be? Do they know that Israel sits on top of emptied Palestinian villages? The crops that Israelis eat come from a soil fertilized and made rich from the bodies of my Palestinian ancestors and fruit from trees planted by those same ancestors, starting with my grandparents and going back centuries if not millennia? I am unquestionably a daughter of Jerusalem, even if Israel deems me not to be human enough to live and thrive there as all my ancestors before me have. Does the Salon du Live wish to pretend, as Israel does, that Palestine and Palestinians do not and never did exist? Do they know Jesus was Palestinian and many Palestinian Christians can trace their ancestry to the first century? There are Palestinians whose surnames are “Canaan”. No Israeli has roots that sink as deeply into that land as the dispossessed Canaan family must! Has it occurred to the organizers that those Hebrew tribes that existed in Palestine 3,000 years ago are more likely to be my ancestors [if indeed genetic continuity is possible over such a period], not the ancestors of Russian Jews or any other imported Israeli ethnic group?

Or is the Salon du Livre simply complicit in the ongoing efforts of Israel to rid the world of us and any memory of our heritage, culture, history and gaping wound?

The world has roared with contempt at Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s alleged desire to wipe Israel off the map. And yet, Israel has actually been slowly wiping Palestine off the map for the past 60 years, in deeds and words. Every day acres of land are confiscated from what little remains to us of Palestine in order to build Jewish-only domains. Every day our men and women, as young as 12, suffer in their jails and torture chambers without charge or trial. At every turn, there is a wall, a bullet, or a checkpoint to deny, starve, or humiliate and break us. Death constantly comes at us from air land and sea with the most sophisticated weaponry. Every hope or dream we might have suffocates in refugee camps unfit for human beings but which our proud people have endured for more than half a century. Recently the commissioner-general of UNRWA warned that “Gaza is on the threshold of becoming the first territory to be intentionally reduced to a state of abject destitution, with the knowledge, acquiescence and–some would say–encouragement of the international community.” So, the world watches life being slowly and deliberately extinguished in Gaza, as Israel, with unbearable irony, turns Gaza into a massive concentration camp. And around the world, the voices of our leaders, artists, writers, and activists are silenced, ever we try to speak, to protest, or scream in agony for help. Yet our demise is met not with contempt, but with muffling of our painful narrative and celebration at international book fairs like the Salon du Livre!!


What have we done to deserve such a fate? What have we done to France or to the world that no one will stand against such injustice? Everything has been taken from us and our hearts carved out because we are not Jewish! What has been our crime that we should be so excluded from the human race, forced to negotiate endlessly with our oppressors for the basic human rights accorded to the rest of humanity? Spoken of as if animals when we dare to fight back? Why will no one hear our voice? What hope do we have if even lovers of books will pretend we do not exist and therefore have no story worth reading?

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Susan Abulhawa among Three Artists to celebrate the legacy of Dr. Evelyn Abdalah Menconi

Evelyn Abdalah Menconi
Memorial Cultural Series
The William G. Abdalah Library, The American-Arab Media Foundation, and Tawassul

Remembrance, Images, & Musical Resonance
The Palestinian Narrative ♦ Muslim Women and the Veil ♦ Qanun Expressions

In Commemoration of the Palestinian Nakba and the Armenian Genocide

Thursday, April 24th, 2008
Boston Public Library, Rabb Lecture Hall
Reception: 5:30 to 6:15 p.m.
Lobby, Rabb Lecture Hall
Program: 6:30 to 8:15 p.m.

Susan Abulhawa is the author of the novel, The Scar of David, which portrays the Palestinian narrative from the Nakba to the present. She will discuss and read from her novel.

Rania Matar is a documentary photographer. She will present and elucidate her photographic series on Muslim Women and the Veil: Modesty, Fashion, Devotion, or Statement.

Jamal Sinno is a master qanunist. He will play traditional musical selections throughout the program.

The Series honors the legacy of the late Dr. Evelyn Abdalah Menconi, known for introducing Arab cultural traditions to the public and highlighting achievements of gifted Arab-Americans.

For library information and directions, go to or call 617.536.5400.
Open to the public - Wheelchair accessible - Assistive listening devices are available. To request a sign language interpreter or for help with other special needs, call 617.536.5400 x2295 or 617.536.7855 (TTY) at least two weeks before the program.

For program information, please call 781-648-1245.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Susan Abulhawa will lead a workshop at the Sabeel Conference in April

Philadelphia Sabeel Conference

Israelis and Palestinians seek peace, place and security in the Middle East

KEYNOTE ADDRESS: Dr. Hanan Ashrawi, former Palestinian spokesperson
and Minister of Higher Education

Read bio at UC Berkeley website:

April 25-26, 2008
A two day conference will be held at Villanova University, Connelly Center to promote education and advocacy about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Sixty years ago in 1948, Israel celebrated its
independence while Palestinians endured their Nakba, or catastrophe, as they fled their land as refugees. Various speakers will address the history and root causes of the conflict as well as the current realities and hopes for peace. Workshops will offer time for discussion and advice. There will also be a film screening, cultural event, and art exhibit by renowned local artist Rajie Cook. Many of the speakers will be available for other interviews or events.

Rev. Naim Ateek
, Director, Sabeel Ecumenical Liberation Theology Center, Jerusalem
Christian Strategies for Non-Violent Peacemaking
Dr. Marc Ellis, Director for Jewish Studies, Baylor University
The Jewish Dream and the 1948 Reality
Dr. Elia Zureik, Emeritus Faculty, Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada
A Journey of 60 years; the Story of Palestinian Refugees
Dr. Yvonne Haddad, History of Islam and Christian-Muslim Relations, Georgetown University Understanding our Muslim Friends
Jeff Halper, Coordinator, Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions, (2006 Nobel Peace Prize nominee) Reframing the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: A View from the Ground
John Hubers, Former Middle East Director, Reformed Church of America. Whose Homeland Is It? Confronting Christian Zionism
Susan Abulhawa, Author and founder of Playgrounds for Palestine.
Fr. John Sullivan and Sr. Maria Rieckelman, Maryknoll Missionaries Led six pilgrimages to the Holy Land.
Rev. Kail Ellis, Dean, College of Liberal Arts and Science, Villanova University
Dr. Roger Allen, Professor of Arabic, University of Pennsylvania.
Dr. Linda Hanna and Leila Barclay, Environmental Impact of War; Jewish Voice for Peace members, Jewish Anti-Occupation Activism

The Ecumenical Working Group for Middle East Peace, Philadelphia area; The Villanova Center for Peace and Justice Education, and The Office of Justice and Peace of the Augustinian Province of St. Thomas of Villanova; Friends of Sabeel—North America. Sabeel (Arabic for "the way") is a
Jerusalem based ecumenical peace movement initiated by Palestinian Christians.

Register Online:

Contact: Rev. David Yeaworth 610-525-2776
Bishop Allen Bartlett 215-928-0506 Joyce
Wilson 267-909-8085

Monday, February 4, 2008

Susan Abulhawa to be keynote speaker at PAWA's annual banquet

The Palestinian-American Women's Association (PAWA) cordially invites you to International Women's Day Commemoration

We Shall Never Forget
Commemorating the 60th Anniversary of the Nakba

keynote address by: Susan Abulhawa, Award Winning author of The Scar of David

also featuring:
Khalil Bendib, Political Cartoonist
A Debka Group
and much more..

Saturday, March 8th 2008
6:00 pm - Reception
7:00 pm - Arabic Dinner

La Mirada Holiday Inn
14299 Firestone Boulevard
La Mirada, CA 90638

For tickets and more information: 949-369-6510 or 909-861-8645

Gold Tables: $1000, Silver Tables: $800, Bronze Tables: $650
Adults: $50, Students: $40T

ickets also available on our website:

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Letter in The Nation

Ho-Ho-Holiday Donations, 2007 Edition

Please add Playgrounds for Palestine to your list of nonprofits worthy of support. This foundation was started by a Palestinian- American friend of mine, Susan Abulhawa. With donated funds, she buys playground equipment at discount from a Pennsylvania manufacturer, ships it to Israel, goes through endless time-consuming paperwork to get Israel's permission to transport it to the OPT, then hires locals to assemble and maintain the playgrounds in villages in Gaza and the West Bank.
Palestinian kids live in abysmal conditions. Bringing a little joy to their lives is so easy for us, so meaningful to them. Susie tells me that the people living in Rafah in southern Gaza have planted gardens all around their playground and keep it in very good repair. They cherish it.
Susie, a single mother with an MS in biology, works as a medical writer. She has also published a novel worth your attention, Scar of David. It has been published in several languages and has received great acclaim and awards in Europe. It has not so far received th attention it deserves in the United States. The story of a Palestinian family and their fraught entanglements with Israeli Jews, it is moving and compassionate.

Evalyn Segal
Unitarian Universalists for Justice in the Middle East
Philadelphia, PA