Last week, I received an invitation from the Palestine-Israel Journal (PIJ) to attend an event on the impact of the Arab Spring on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. However, a couple of days later I was notified that the event was canceled due to threats by anti-normalization activists against the hotel hosting the event. Below is an letter of explanation I received from the co-editors of PIJ, Ziad Abu Zayyad and Hillel Schenker:
We regret being unable to convene the Meeting which was planned for today, December 20, 2011, focusing on the Impact of the Arab Spring on the Palestinian Israeli Conflict. We invested a tremendous effort in preparations, to guarantee appropriate speakers and audience, and to promote the new issue of the Palestine Israel Journal (PIJ) devoted to The Arab Spring.
Many of you wrote to us, or called asking what happened. And we believe that we owe you an explanation.
On the evening of Dec. 18 someone called Ziad AbuZayyad and drew his attention to a campaign on the Facebook against the meeting accusing it of being part of normalization with the occupation. Ziad spent more than five hours on the Facebook sending messages and posts and responding to what was written or posted and trying to explain the nature and importance of the event.
On Dec. 19 we were called by the Legacy Hotel and informed by its Manager that he decided to cancel our reservation and they will not host the Conference. Later we received a fax from the Hotel confirming the decision of its administration. At the same time Ziad checked with the Hotel why they canceled the meeting and urged them to change their decision but they said that they were threatened by telephone calls and asked not to host the meeting. The owner said that he cares about his business and does not want any political involvement.
Ziad met with some of those who were campaigning against the meeting but others refused to come and meet him and continued inciting against the meeting. The message was clear that they are willing to continue their protest and will come to the Hotel to prevent the convening of the meeting.
From my contacts and conversations with the protesters I can say that the protest is not specifically against the PIJ but stems from the overall situation in the city. There are a number of burning spots in the city as a result of continued settlements activities and attacks by settlers against the Palestinians mainly in Silwan and Ras el Amood. There are increasing activities of house demolitions and the imposing fines on “illegal building”, and recently the activation of Shu’fat passage which excluded the whole neighborhood of Shu’fat refugee camp from Jerusalem and as such making their access to their work, schools, relatives and other interests in the city subjected to restrictions and humiliation on the passage.
There is a strong and increasing political, emotional and militant congestion in the city against the Israeli practices accompanied by a bitter feeling that no one cares for the sufferings of Arabs in Jerusalem, including the PA which is also held responsible for letting down the Palestinians of Jerusalem.
In this congestion, frustration and despair, extremism reigns and logic disappears.
We are unhappy with this situation and will keep going on the path that we believe in and have chosen for our selves. And we’ll continue our efforts to resolve this problem which threatens all joint activities in Jerusalem by all of the civil society organizations. We will continue our efforts to speak with relevant Palestinian parties to change this situation,
BUT no one should ignore the suffering and frustration of the Palestinians in Jerusalem as a result of the Israeli policy and settlers. This policy must come to an end, settlement activities in Jerusalem should stop, and attacks and provocations against Palestinians in the city must be ended to help to change the general climate in the city.
We hope that this explanation will be up to your satisfaction, and thanks for your understanding.