A webinar hosting renowned Palestinian author and intellectual Ghada Karmi and famed British-Iraqi musician and broadcaster, Lowkey, was canceled on May 10 by the UK-based charity The Balfour Project.
Karmi and Lowkey told the Palestine Chronicle that the cancellation of the event, which was meant to launch Karmi’s book ‘One State: The Only Democratic Future for Palestine-Israel,’ was a result of pressure from a pro-Israel group, Yachad.
The Balfour Project denied that its decision was the outcome of outside pressure.
Karmi was supposed to talk “to the rapper and activist Lowkey about her new book One State: The Only Democratic Future for Palestine-Israel, setting out what in her view is the only workable democratic future for Palestinians and Israelis,” the Balfour Project website had stated.
But shortly before the event was scheduled to take place, the webinar was canceled.
“The Balfour Project, having accepted my book launch event with Lowkey, canceled at the last minute under Zionist pressure,” Karmi told the Palestine Chronicle.
“The book launch had been advertised for three weeks, but Yachad waited till the last moment to cancel, causing maximum disruption, a typical Zionist tactic,” Karmi added.
Not Without Lowkey
For his part, British artist and activist Lowkey told the Palestine Chronicle that the organization gave Karmi “a choice to hold the event without me and I appreciate that she has refused that idea.”
“I was informed just the day before the event that the Balfour Project had ruled that I would not be able to participate following lobbying by an organization which regularly hosts talks by former heads of Israeli intelligence,” Lowkey said.
He added, “Why would the Balfour Project allow an organization like this to veto who can and can’t speak at a pro-Palestinian event?”
But the Balfour Project denies that any outside pressure, namely by Yachad, was put on them.
In a statement made to the Palestine Chronicle, Andrew Whitley, the chair of the Balfour Project, said that “Yachad did not exert any pressure on the Balfour Project charity.”
“We informed Dr. Karmi that the charity needed time to look into allegations we had received recently concerning Lowkey, to conduct due diligence but not to prejudge the outcome of that enquiry”.
In its statement, The Balfour Project said that it does not identify itself as a “campaigning body,” but a charity – a not-for-profit organization – which focuses on “Britain’s historic responsibilities in Palestine from before the creation of the modern state of Israel and to the present day.”
Its work, according to Whitley, includes advocacy “for the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination, and gives a platform to those who share its views and principles.”
Karmi, however, told The Palestine Chronicle that the incident has deeper implications as it “highlights an issue no one wants to look at: what does supporting the Palestinians actually mean? Does it require an end to collaboration with Zionists altogether, or does it mean accepting the help of liberal Zionists who support some Palestinian rights? These questions need answers.”
“What this incident illustrates is first, the disrespect shown towards Palestinians – cancelling me at the last minute without publishing an explanation; caving in to pro-Israel threats without hesitation for fear the Project would lose their support, as if offending the Zionists is far worse than offending a Palestinian like me”.
What is Yachad?
On its website, Yachad describes itself as a “British Jewish organization whose primary mission is to empower British Jews to support a political resolution to the Israeli Palestinian conflict.”
According to Lowkey, however, there is more to Yachad’s publicly declared mission.
Yachad “regularly hosts former heads of Israeli intelligence, has featured at least one former employee of the Israeli embassy on its board, and works with the Yesha Council (the umbrella organization for Israeli settlements),” Lowkey told the Palestine Chronicle.
(The Palestine Chronicle)
So what’s new?
The Balfour Project’s claims that it had not succumbed to Zionist pressure makes its succumbing to Zionist pressure all the more disgraceful. I am not interested in hearing about what they wanted to “check out” about Lowkey – the fact is that they were going to decide on our behalf whether we are “allowed” to hear him.