With the death of Harold Pinter we have lost a giant. Not only of the theatre and cinema but a political and human giant. Awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2005 Pinter reached the heights of his profession yet he wasn't content. Unable to attend, Pinter used his speech accepting the Nobel Prize, via a video link , to attack the war criminals Blair & Bush.
Conspicuously absent from most obituaries is any connection between his passionate anti-war stance and his writings. His political activities, in particular his opposition to the NATO wars in former Yugoslavia and then the US/British attack on Iraq and Afghanistan are seen by the scribblers of the British press as some kind of quaint eccentricity rather than an integral part of the man and his works. The BBC in particular, that servile apologist for British & US imperialism, as usual trivialised the message Pinter and millions had for the war criminals who govern us. He was what they termed a 'champaign socialist'. Presumably this was meant to call into question his political honesty, unlike the media prostitutes that the BBC harbours. As Stanley Baldwin described the media in his day, they have the prerogative of the harlot through the ages - power without responsibility.
Although his support for the Palestinians and opposition to Zionism and Israel has barely been mentioned, on April 30th this year Pinter and 150 other British Jews, including myself, had a letter published in Guardian headlined 'We're not celebrating Israel's anniversary'.
Compared to the nationalist, Israel right or wrong pygmies of the Zionist Board of Deputies of British Jews, Pinter was a towering figure in every field he was involved in and will be remembered for his forthright honesty and integrity.
We're not celebrating Israel's anniversary
The Guardian, Wednesday 30 April 2008
In May, Jewish organisations will be celebrating the 60th anniversary of the founding of the state of Israel. This is understandable in the context of centuries of persecution culminating in the Holocaust. Nevertheless, we are Jews who will not be celebrating. Surely it is now time to acknowledge the narrative of the other, the price paid by another people for European anti-semitism and Hitler's genocidal policies. As Edward Said emphasised, what the Holocaust is to the Jews, the Naqba is to the Palestinians.
In April 1948, the same month as the infamous massacre at Deir Yassin and the mortar attack on Palestinian civilians in Haifa's market square, Plan Dalet was put into operation. This authorised the destruction of Palestinian villages and the expulsion of the indigenous population outside the borders of the state. We will not be celebrating.
In July 1948, 70,000 Palestinians were driven from their homes in Lydda and Ramleh in the heat of the summer with no food or water. Hundreds died. It was known as the Death March. We will not be celebrating.
In all, 750,000 Palestinians became refugees. Some 400 villages were wiped off the map. That did not end the ethnic cleansing. Thousands of Palestinians (Israeli citizens) were expelled from the Galilee in 1956. Many thousands more when Israel occupied the West Bank and Gaza. Under international law and sanctioned by UN resolution 194, refugees from war have a right to return or compensation. Israel has never accepted that right. We will not be celebrating.
We cannot celebrate the birthday of a state founded on terrorism, massacres and the dispossession of another people from their land. We cannot celebrate the birthday of a state that even now engages in ethnic cleansing, that violates international law, that is inflicting a monstrous collective punishment on the civilian population of Gaza and that continues to deny to Palestinians their human rights and national aspirations.
We will celebrate when Arab and Jew live as equals in a peaceful Middle East.