Ben White (journalist)

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Ben White is a British journalist and activist. He is the author of two books about the Israel-Palestine conflict: Israeli Apartheid: A Beginner’s Guide and Palestinians in Israel: Segregation, Discrimination and Democracy.[1]

Career[edit]

Since graduating from Cambridge University with a degree in English Literature in 2005, White has worked in journalism, education, and for a number of NGOs. He has visited Israel and the Palestinian territories a number of times and spent two years in Brazil.[2]

Amos Trust[edit]

For several years White worked for the Amos Trust, a Christian NGO focusing on social action, particularly in Nicaragua, India, and in Israel/Palestine.;[3][4] The Amos Trust devotes the most of its time and attention to Palestine.[citation needed] White ran and helped develop Amos Trust's campaign, A Just Peace For Palestine,[citation needed] now known as Kairos Palestine Britain and Ireland, which is a network of organisations and faith communities formed in response to the Kairos Palestine document A Moment of Truth.[5]

St. Edmund's College[edit]

Since leaving his position at Amos Trust, White went on to work as the External Communications Officer for the Faraday Institute for Science and Religion at St. Edmund's College of Cambridge University.[6]

Political views and activities[edit]

White has written of "the myth of Israel as the region's only democracy",[7] and has written about Israel's "systematic discrimination against the Negev's Bedouin population".[8] He has mocked "the narrative of a rejectionist Palestinian leadership that had turned down an incredibly generous offer and instead opted for a campaign of violence".[9]

White criticised Judge Richard Goldstone for "retracting" the Goldstone Report's central conclusions, and advocated that Israel's behaviour during Operation Cast Lead be referred to the International Criminal Court.[10] Attempting to explain why there has been "no Palestinian spring," White wrote that the 1993 Oslo accords "established a paradigm where the Palestinian struggle for return and decolonisation was turned into a facade of sovereignty, piecemeal concessions and occupation management."[11]

White supports the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement. He supports a boycott of Israeli academic institutions because of " the complicity of Israeli academic institutions in an occupation where violations of international law and human rights are routine.".[12] In 2010 he led a successful Facebook campaign to cancel a speaking engagement at Cambridge University by Israeli historian Benny Morris.[citation needed] In 2010, White launched Disconnect Now, a website supporting boycott of Israeli telecommunications giant Bezeq, because Bezeq connects both residents inside of Israel and the Territories.[citation needed]

White supported the call to boycott a London performance by Israel's Habima Theatre company since "the company performs in illegal West Bank settlements – colonies that form a key part of Israel's apartheid regime", noting that "Culture does not operate in some special, apolitical space – just like academic institutions in Israel are also not removed from complicity in systematic human rights abuses."[13]

White has criticised the establishment of Israel Studies Departments at universities, which he describes as "Smart hasbara: rebranding and teaching complexity"”[14][15]

White defended Mahmoud Ahmadinejad against charges of antisemitism, following Ahmadimnejad's reported statement that "Israel must be wiped off the map". White commented that "whatever the actual meaning of Ahmadinejad's comments – and there is at least more ambiguity than most allowed – a head of state was being threatened with diplomatic sanction at the highest level, not for his nation's behaviour, but for his beliefs." On allegations that Ahmadinejad was expressing holocaust denial, White wrote that "the President's remarks, as detailed on the official Iranian news agency website, did not actually denote a disbelief in the genocide perpetrated against the Jews during World War II. Rather, they sought to highlight the hypocrisy of European guilt over the Holocaust contrasted with their support for the colonisation of Palestine...Ahmadinejad is drawing attention to the extent to which European nations prosecute Holocaust deniers, yet are by and large post-Christian societies with little regard for religion. For a devout believer like the Iranian President, this must seem like a strange situation".[16]

White also defended German politician Jürgen Möllemann, who was accused of antisemitism following remarks comparing Israeli actions in the occupied territories with those of Nazi Germany. White wrote that "Comparison between the Israeli government and the Nazis is unwise and unsound, since the Israelis have not (at the time of going to press) exterminated in a systematic fashion an enormous percentage of the Palestinians. Cold-blooded killings, beatings, house demolitions, vandalism, occupation, military assaults, and two historical pushes at ethnic cleansing–yes. Full fledged genocide–no. However, the comparison is not anti-Semitic. It does not make racist assumptions, nor does it smack of bigotism. Whether you agree with him or not, Mr Möllemann's comments cannot, on their own, be called anti-Semitic".[17]

White has condemned human rights abuses on the part of Hamas and Fatah. In a 2008 article, he commented that "Fighting against torture and detention without charge cannot come second to any other agenda", and noted that "This catalogue of human rights abuses will no doubt be eagerly seized upon by Israel apologists."[18] In 2009, he wrote that while it is common to "accuse Middle East governments of using the question of Palestine to distract attention from their own domestic failings,...it is far more accurate to describe the region's dictators, autocrats and monarchs as happy to perform symbolic acts and indulge in hollow rhetoric, while brutally repressing genuine solidarity and protest."[19] Later the same year, White expressed concern about "the direction the Hamas government is taking with regard to social freedoms and a religiously driven 'virtue' promotion campaign," but White blamed Hamas's direction in part on "the state of siege that the tiny territory has been under – a society that has been fenced-in, starved, and seen its very fabric torn apart by unemployment and wanton military destruction. In the words of a Gaza human rights worker, isolation bred "extremism and dark ideas"."[20] White criticised the Palestinian Authority in 2012 for losing its revolutionary fervor and becoming disconnected from its constituents.[21]

Writings[edit]

White has published extensively in print and online media, and has written two books.

Journalism[edit]

White's articles have appeared in such publications as The Guardian's Comment is Free blog, Al Jazeera, Electronic Intifada, New Statesman, Salon, Christian Science Monitor, Middle East International, and the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs.[22]

Books[edit]

In 2009, White's first book, Israeli Apartheid: A Beginner’s Guide, was published by Pluto Press.

White's second book, Palestinians in Israel: Segregation, Discrimination and Democracy, was published by Pluto Press in January 2012 with a foreword by an Arab Member of the Israeli Knesset, Haneen Zoabi. In the book, White argues that “Israel only has a ‘Jewish majority’ because of the expulsion and legislated dispossession of Palestinians” and that "Israeli policies with regards to land, housing, immigration, and budgets, explicitly and implicitly favour Jewish citizens (and even Jewish non-citizens) at the expense of Palestinian citizens (and those Palestinians still excluded from their homeland)." He calls the notion of Israel as a “Jewish and democratic” state a myth, saying that "this 'Jewish and democratic’ status is only possible through the forced displacement, exclusion and segregation of the Palestinians."

The book, described by White as "the result of a combination of on the ground experiences, personal friendships, newspaper archives, and library visits", was endorsed by a number of prominent pro-Palestinian activists, including Ilan Pappe and Ali Abunimah. Sami Awad, Executive Director of the Holy Land Trust, lauded the book’s "analysis of Israel’s discriminatory policies", as well as its "vision of equality between Jews and Palestinians." Rod Such of the Electronic Intifada wrote that "the book’s greatest contribution is its dissection of political Zionism, providing a framework to understand why a state that defines itself as Jewish cannot be democratic."[23][24][25]

Lectures[edit]

White has lectured on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in a variety of venues, including the Houses of Parliament in London, the headquarters Amnesty International UK, Greenbelt, and student-organized events at the London School of Economics and at universities in Birmingham, Nottingham, Manchester, Leeds, Cambridge, Leicester, Newcastle, and Durham. In the US, he has spoken at Columbia University, UC Irvine, and other campuses and bookstores in Washington, D.C., North Carolina, Pittsburgh, and California. In 2009 and 2012, White conducted lecture tours of Canada.[26]

Other professional activities[edit]

With God on Our Side[edit]

White was interviewed for With God on Our Side, a 2013 documentary film that explores Christian Zionism and questions the theological logicality of Christian support for Zionism.[27][28]

Criticism[edit]

Marcus Dysch in The Jewish Chronicle has called White an "anti-Israel campaigner",[29] and Jonny Paul, in The Jerusalem Post, has called him an "anti-Israel activist".[30]

White raised controversy[31][32] in an article published by CounterPunch, where White acknowledged that he can "understand" why people are anti-Semitic as a result of the "state of Israel, its ideology of racial supremacy and its subsequent crimes committed against the Palestinians." He concluded the article by saying, "'I can understand very well that some people are unpleasant towards Jews.' I do not agree with them, but I can understand."[33]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Ben White official bio
  2. ^ "Ben White- About". Ben White. Retrieved 19 March 2013. 
  3. ^ White, Ben. "Personal website". Retrieved 22 March 2013. 
  4. ^ "Justice and hope for the forgotten". Amos Trust. Retrieved 22 March 2013. 
  5. ^ "About Us". Kairos. Retrieved 22 March 2013. 
  6. ^ "People | The Faraday Institute for Science and Religion". St. Edmunds. Retrieved 19 March 2013. 
  7. ^ White, Ben (3 December 2009). "Shattering Israel's image of 'democracy'". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 22 March 2013. 
  8. ^ White, Ben (3 December 2009). "Shattering Israel's image of 'democracy'". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 22 March 2013. 
  9. ^ White, Ben (1 July 2010). "Lessons from Camp David". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 22 March 2013. 
  10. ^ White, Ben. "Goldstone: ‘retractions’ vs facts". Retrieved 3 April 2011. 
  11. ^ White, Ben (11 June 2012). "Why has there been no 'Palestinian spring'? One word: Oslo". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 22 March 2013. 
  12. ^ White, Ben (12 September 2012). "Why a boycott of Israeli academics is fully justified". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 22 March 2013. 
  13. ^ White, Ben. "Why a cultural boycott of Israel is justified". New Statesman. Retrieved 22 March 2013. 
  14. ^ White, Ben. "The Case for Israel (Studies): It's Not Hasbara. Honest". Mondoweiss. Retrieved 22 March 2013. 
  15. ^ White, Ben. "Battle of the trenches: academic boycott versus… ‘Israel Studies". Mondoweiss. Retrieved 22 March 2013. 
  16. ^ White, Ben. "History, myths, and all the news that's fit to print". Retrieved 22 March 2013. 
  17. ^ White, Ben (18 June 2012). "Is It Possible to Understand the Rise in Anti-Semitism?". CounterPunch. Retrieved 22 March 2013. 
  18. ^ White, Ben (30 July 2008). "The Palestinian torturers". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 19 March 2013. 
  19. ^ White, Ben (10 February 2009). "Abducted in Egypt". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 19 March 2013. 
  20. ^ White, Ben. "Hamas turns its attention to 'virtue'". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 10 August 2009. [dead link]
  21. ^ White, Ben. accords "Why has there been no 'Palestinian spring'? One word: Oslo". The Guardian. Retrieved 11 June 2012. [dead link]
  22. ^ "Ben White". London: The Guardian. 19 March 2008. Retrieved 20 March 2013. 
  23. ^ White, Ben. contradiction-of-the-jewish-and-democratic-state.html "New book Palestinians in Israel explores the contradiction of the 'Jewish and democratic' state". Mondoweiss. Retrieved 21 January 2012. 
  24. ^ discrimination-democracy/ "MUFTAH BOOK CLUB: Ben White’s ‘Palestinians in Israel.'". Muftah. Retrieved 12 January 2012. 
  25. ^ Such, Rod. israel-focus-new-book/10774 "Delegitimizing discrimination: struggle of Palestinians in Israel focus of new book". The Electronic Intifada. Retrieved 4 January 2012. 
  26. ^ "Ben White- About". Ben White. Retrieved 20 March 2013. 
  27. ^ "Ben White- Media". Ben White. Retrieved 20 March 2013. 
  28. ^ "About The Film – With God on Our Side". With God on Our Side. Retrieved 20 March 2013. 
  29. ^ Amnesty International defends official accused of anti-Israel bias Marcus Dysch, 19 July 2012, The Jewish Chronicle
  30. ^ "Amnesty refuses to reconsider anti-Israel activist speech". Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 10 August 2012. 
  31. ^ "Anti-Israel author is 'victim of secret plot'". The Jewish Chronicle. Retrieved 28 March 2014. 
  32. ^ "Amnesty defends guest author over claims of anti-Semitism". Totally Jewish. Retrieved 28 March 2014. 
  33. ^ "Is It Possible to Understand the Rise in Anti-Semitism?". Counter Punch. Retrieved 28 March 2014. 

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