Sarah Irving

I do things with words, mainly English and Arabic

New review: music and Palestine

Electronic Intifada, 22nd December 2014

In Beckles Willson’s case, however, a few important points stand out.
One is her careful, sophisticated, but nevertheless uncompromising articulation of the deep-seated difference between accuracy and integrity and the dangerous — but commonplace — insistence on imposing a notion of “balance” on discussions of Palestine.
Second is her rigorous adoption of the model of settler-colonialism to understand the trajectory of Zionism in Palestine — adopted not from an ideological perspective, but from that of the academic historian, looking at trends and events over a long period and seeing the patterns within them.
Thirdly, Beckles Willson’s account of her own research includes anecdotes which many researchers, journalists and documentary-makers on Palestine would do well to learn from.
They reveal a stranger to Middle Eastern social norms finding out that their expectations of how to contact “important people” and elicit meetings and interviews don’t work. They also show — unlike some researchers’ explorations — humility in realizing that we, as academics and journalists, are not somehow blessing the Palestinians with our attentions, but they are doing us a favor when they share with us their time, experiences and knowledge.

The full article is here.

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