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WATCH: Edward Said documentary revisits Oslo period

A documentary from Edward Said and the BBC that illustrates life in the occupied territories after Oslo but before the Second Intifada.

I came across this great documentary called “In Search of Palestine” from a friend that was aired on the BBC in 1998. It is about the return of Edward Said to Palestine for the first time since his exile in 1948. For anyone interested in revisiting the pre-Second Intifada Oslo period, it is a spectacular look at the situation on the ground with the preeminent Palestinian scholar of his time.

It also includes interviews with a number of interesting personalities including Israel Shahak, Azmi Bishara, Mahmoud Darwish, Ibrahim Abu-Lughod, Daniel Barenboim, and others.

For those who don’t know Edward Said, who passed away in 2003, he was a Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University and author of several renowned and influential books, including Orientalism. He was also publicly active and one of the most trenchant critics of the Oslo Process and Yasser Arafat. His writings in the mid-1990s were prophetic in terms of what came out of the Oslo Process and the circumstances we are in today.

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    1. XYZ

      A real rogues’ gallery. On the same day we have a posting here at 972 where American Palestinian activists denounce Gilad Atzmon as a Jewish antisemite, we have in this film Israel Shahak, an earlier incarnation of Atzmon brought in as some sort of expert.


      Then we have Daniel Barenboim, who might be a fine conductor, but that doesn’t make him any sort of authority on the Arab/Israel conflict and who is viewed as a crank by most Israelis.

      Finally, there is Edward himself, who fought the brave battle for Palestine for years from his comfortable Manhattan apartment, starting from the time he stopped claiming he was Egyptian and not Palestinian, finally showing his bravery by having himself photographed at the Lebanon-Israel border throwing rocks at the Israeli soldiers on the other side, knowing that they won’t respond.

      Reply to Comment
    2. Haroun Hameed

      A wonderful find. Said is one of my all time heroes – an almost unnervingly brave, principled man. Keep it up!

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    3. sh

      XYZ you’re ignorant. Daniel Barenboim lived here (Israel) as a child, went to school here and, like several more international Israeli musicians, has been coming back regularly to play and talk. He knows much more about the Arab/Israel conflict than many who live here. As it happens, he made a very good speech on the subject to the Knesset a few years ago:
      In addition to the attributes Omar Rahman describes, Edward Said was also an accomplished pianist and wrote passionately and knowledgeably about music.

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    4. XYZ

      I am well aware that Barenboim lived in Israel. That doesn’t mean he has a good handle on the situation. The fact that Said was a good musician doesn’t mean he isn’t an enemy of Israel, either.

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    5. sh

      Only XYZ has a good handle on the situation according to XYZ. All the other letters of the alphabet who lived/live in Israel talk through their hats.
      Edward Said might have grown up in Egypt, but his family came from Jerusalem. His piano teacher in Cairo was a Jew from Drohobych, by the way.

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    6. sh

      And 14 years later, Netanyahu then as now, destruction of Jahalin Bedouins’ lives then as now, bulldozers churning up houses, tents and trees with wanton abandon then as now; you watch this documentary and see that plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose. Nothing has changed except the tally of wars.

      Reply to Comment
    7. ToivoS

      I definitely remember Eward Said. When he writing about the Oslo process, I thought of him as an extremist. Was he ever so correct and my enthusiasm for the peace process so delusional.

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    8. Edward Said and Azmi Bishara are both factually wrong here and unwittingly do a disservice to the Palestinian cause. Many Bantustan territoritories in South Africa were actually given nominal sovereignty under the Apartheid system. In fact, some of these “states” even had embassies in Israel during the era of White-rule. In Israel/Palestine however, the Palestinian territories have no sovereignty and there is no sign that this situation will change any time soon. In this respect therefore, the Israeli system is in fact worse than Apartheid South Africa. The apartheid term has been used liberally by Israel’s radical (and usually knowledgeable) critics as an epithet, while in fact the comparison is inaccurate. From an emotional point of view, this is very painful for me to say as a passionate Zionist Jew who believes in self-determination for the Jewish people. But as a firm believer in the inherent goodness of moral code of the true Judaism, I cannot countenance the historic contravention of the legitimate rights of the Palestinians. A better future for both peoples is possible, but that future has been slipping away more and more in recent years. Instead it seems to me that we are heading further and further towards catastrophe. Unfortunately the Israeli public is too distracted, blind or jaded to see that this catastrophe will eventually affect them too. Whether we like it or not, the futures of our two peoples are inextricably intertwined. The question is whether enough good and sound-thinking Israelis and Palestinians are willing and ready today to join together to avert this impending catastrophe. My sense is that they are not. I hope that I am wrong.

      Reply to Comment