Lecture and Q&A with Bassem Eid
Human Rights Activist, TV-Journalist, East-Jerusalem
Please scroll down for a report and the video of the event.
Where: Humboldt University Berlin, Unter den Linden 6, Raum 2002 (1.Floor)
Wann: Wednesday January 31st, 2018 at 7 p.m.
Moderation: Michael Spaney, Executive Director of the Mideast Freedom Forum Berlin
This event is in English Language
Please register: firstname.lastname@example.org
Bassem Eid is a well-known Palestinian TV journalist and human rights activist with a remarkable perspective on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and on Palestinian politics. Born in the Jordan-controlled eastern part of Jerusalem in 1958, he spent the first 33 years of his life in Shuafat Refugee Camp in northern Jerusalem. In the past he worked as a human rights activist at B'Tselem and he foundes the Palestinian Human Rights Monitoring Group (PHRMG). Since 2003, he has worked for Israeli television as an analyst and commentator on Palestinian politics. His critical perspective on the Palestinian Authority and Gaza-ruling Hamas will be presented on January 31 at 7 p.m. at Humboldt University Berlin.
After the event Wine & Cheese Reception.
This event is a cooperation of the Mideast Freedom Forum Berlin and the University Group of the German-Israeli Friendship Association, DIG Berlin and Brandenburg.
The well-known Palestinian human rights activist, political advisor and tv host, Bassam Eid, spoke at the invation of the Mideast Freedom Forum Berlin at the Humboldt University Berlin on 31 January about the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, BDS and why the aid payments to the UNWRA and the Palestinian Authority only cement the conflict instead of solving it.
Bassem Eid was born in 1958 in the Palestinian refugee camp Shuafat in East Jerusalem which was occupied by Jordan back then and has been involved for decades as a human rights activist in Israel and the Palestinian territories. Among other things he worked for the well-known NGO B'tselem and founded the Palestinian Human Rights Monitoring Group (PHRMG). Since 2003 he has been working for Israeli television as an independent analyst and commentator on Palestinian politics.
Eid opened his lecture at the Humboldt University with an overview of the respective interests of the different conflict parties in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. While doing so he pointed out the crucial role of Egypt for the situation in Gaza. The Islamist terrorist organization Hamas is a thorn in the side for the neighboring Arab country, as it supports other Islamist militias on the Egyptian Sinai Peninsula. By rigorously controlling the border with Gaza, Egypt would intend to put pressure on Hamas and destabilize it in the long term so that the Palestinian Authority (PA) under its current president Mahmoud Abbas could regain full control of the Mediterranean enclave. That is also why the residents of Gaza could not expect any help from the PA. Like Egypt, they would rely on a failure of Hamas. In contrast to this there is also Israel that in principle would be interested in rebuilding the buildings destroyed by the military offensive in Gaza in 2014, facing the problem that Hamas is using urgently needed building material to expand its military infrastructure rather than using it for the benefit of Gaza's population.
Afterwards Eid turned to the internal Palestinian conflicts. He considers the recently to the outside demonstrated will to unify which has been emphasized by a new agreement between the largest Palestinian parties Fatah and Hamas, to be a media staging. In the past years the world has seen six of such agreements and nothing has changed in the mutual hostility of both groups. As a result both parties would be losing more and more support among the population. Overall there is a strong mistrust of the Palestinian leadership that is more interested in their own progress than in improving the situation of their people. Instead of an unrelenting permanent conflict with Israel, most Palestinians today would long for a secure job, a steady income, good medical care and a future-oriented education of their children.
Finally Eid criticized the attempt by European and North American campus groups as part of the so-called BDS movement (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) to influence the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. In fact an attempt to boycott Israeli goods would only lead to the destruction of thousands of Palestinian jobs, almost the opposite of what the Palestinian population demands today. Therefore the BDS campaign is a complacent corporation which wishes to define itself as part of a solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, in reality though takes the Palestinians hostage to a fundamentally wrong political strategy. It is similar to international organizations such as the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). Initially set up in 1949 the United Nations agency for the coordination of assistance to Palestinian refugees not only cements the conflict, according to Eid, but has also an interest in its continued existence so that it could keep on receiving hundreds of millions of dollars of international aid today.
Eid also sees a central problem in the interference of other states in the conflict. The harmful influence of Iran and Qatar would be obvious. But international payments to the Palestinian Authority are also highly problematic. He makes it clear that as long as the benefits granted by the European Union and its Member States stay unconditioned, nothing will change the fatal status quo of the Palestinian territories; to the contrary. If one really wants to advance a solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and fundamentally improve the living conditions of the Palestinian population, then one must link the payments of aid to the Palestinian Authority to democratic and peaceful basic conditions. The PA must finally distance itself from violence and hate and commit to peaceful coexistence with Israel and a democratic opening to the inside.
Eid is convinced that the interference of other states in the conflict must be pushed back as well as the destructive influence of BDS groups and international institutions such as the UNWRA. A peaceful solution could only be found locally. After all, "it depends solely on us Israelis and Palestinians. On no one else! ".
Historian and political scientist, University of Marburg / Mideast Freedom Forum Berlin