Taimor Hazou: Brave and Principled

On Facebook, Mark Baker and Taimor Hazou recently had an exchange. Baker has an open wall, so this post is available to everyone. I found Taimor’s post very powerful, and wanted to reprint it in full. I will add that I can confirm that I privately challenged Australians for Palestine for printing an anti-Semite, and Hazou supported me, which I greatly appreciated. His is a rare voice of courage and principle in discussions of Israel and Palestine, and I think it should be recognised.

Mark, I understand when you challenge me on that matter, but I do truly find it offensive for several reasons, which I will explain once and for all.

First, Arabs (a substantial number of them but not all) are extremely racist, nationalistically arrogant and dismissive of other views and culture. The nature of this racism is often along cultural ‘superiorities’ as race in itself plays little role in defining Arab and Muslim culture and its own sense of superiority (essentially the Profit ended slavery and physical discrimination in a very real manner – aside form the fact many Arab/Muslims were part of the slave trade as were the English post the Magna Carta). Today Arabs treat foreign workers with the up-most disdain and prejudice in much the same manner Israeli’s do. My experience of this is of a father who championed (and was viewed as such by many in the imported sub-continent work force) the rights of these workers and was often asked and gave his assistance to ill-treated maids, etc. I also grew up in the Arab world as a ‘half-cast’ Kiwi in Jordan so know too well from a very young age what it is to be dismissed as a foreigner. Something that remains an issue to this day in the Arab community here in Australia – where some do consider me an uncle Tom and always will because I articulate a diversity of views.

Second, I have and will continue to challenge racism anti-semitic or otherwise in the Arabic community. There are numerous examples of this including email threads, forum posts, and public comments putting Arab racism back in its place. I am also very much known in the Arabic community as one of the few (if only Arab) who speaks at a rally acknowledges the Jewish dead, argues for Jewish speakers and challenges Arab racism publicly in-front of thousands. Tell me which Jewish leader as ever dare to acknowledge the number of Palestinians killed at a Pro-Israel rally. In fact, I can recall a time when I was followed around by 3-4 young men assigned to me as bodyguards. I ignored them thinking it was older generation paranoia about Aussies or Zionists; turns out the elders were worried about me challenging Islamist and other Arabs on taking down swastikas or racist chants. Most recently, I supported M Brull in his challenge of Australians for Palestine about a number of issues of prejudice to some personal and political expense on my part. So my record Mark speaks for itself. I told the PNA delegate Ali Kazak that while I understood the political symbolism the concept of our people strapping make believe explosives to young children was deeply offensive, psychological abusive and politically immoral resulting in a massive slandering campaign against me. In the West Bank I NEVER shirked away from being critical of Arafat even when doing an internship with Dr Ashrawi a Minister at the time. I also argued to the face of relatives that bus bombings were immoral becuase the killing of innonce (children) was unjustifiable brining a furor of abuse and aunts to tears.

Third, you continually raise this issue of having to speak out on other issues, which I understand, but think is illegitimate. But, I will respond to anyway this one time. At uni I cut my teeth on environmental and education activism (eg. Kyoto 97). The two nationalistic issues I took on board were East Timor and Burma (and later Tibet) and was a founding member of the non-violent action group (NAG at UQ) that supported both. My Palestinian activism paled in comparison and really only matured in later years. I have published articles on all of the above and have spoken on radio on these issues too. The problem is I suspect (and wait to be corrected) that I have probably taken up and vocalized public support on far more issues of moral question than you probably have; other than Israel what socio-political issues have you championed?

Fourth, as a progressive Arab I have argued and supported liberal politics generally in the Arab world, but most importantly in Palestine. And this puts one in conflict with a range of views. I support Palestinian rights to choose and elect Hamas, but will not support their policies or the regression of our society as a result. However, I blame Israel and the US for this regression as they did not allow the Palestinian people to mature through that democratic process and remove them from office because of their inability to govern. I support Gay rights in the Arab world and have a deep commitment to free speech, the separation of state and rule of law which the West and Israel pressure Arab governments including the PNA and others to do away with while dishonestly making public argument to the contrary. I am deeply saddened by the fact that the democratic experiment in Palestine which had the potential to lead the Arab world was severely undermined by Israel and the US. Many of us have and are critical of Arab politics, regimes and policies but we voice these criticism within their appropriate place and we do not do if for the benefit of Jews, the West or Israeli’s so why should we do it in these forums. We do it where it is appropriate to do so in a Arab rally, site or Facebook page which you are not part of do you really expect me to produce the evidence of this for your benefit, every time I do so? For example, some Aussies are currently legitimately discussing on a Facebook page how and in what manner to support the Palestinian just jailed for blasphemy.

But this brings me to the final and most important point on why should I recant all these things and provide some semblance of justification to you. I am a Palestinian Aussie my history and narrative and that of my family and people is Palestinian. I do not need to provide a reason for why this is or should be the one and only single issue that I advocate on. If in fighting and challenging the oppression my people live though is the only thing I choose to engage on politically it is absolutely legitimate until that oppression is removed.

To end, I will provide another analogy (getting tedious I know) but to explain the point it seems to work best, as I have found the Arab view is too easily dismissed.

Nobody in Australia would tell a Koori or Murri man or women that before they could argue legitimately for Aboriginal rights they must first be critical of their own problems or two fly somebody else’s human rights flag to show they are serious about human rights. That is essentially what you do to me Mark all the time (along with others such as PRetti and the like) and yes I resent it especially considering what I have explained above and that I think you know some of your friends and colleagues have been witness to my efforts on all of what I have recanted.

So please don’t ask me again for that justification, as it will not come. And as I don’t think I have asked you once why you haven’t spoken up on Aboriginal rights here in Australia I would appreciate the same. I have assumed you have and would as a progressive Aussie have done so, please accord me the same respect.



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