Zahir Ebrahim's Letter to Professor Beshara Doumani on history of Palestine and Balfour Declaration

This is my curious letter to the notable Palestinian historian, professor Beshara B. Doumani, formerly at the University of California, Berkeley when he gave his presentation at Stanford University on Wednesday September 29, 2010, and now a Faculty Fellow, Director of Middle East Studies, Distinguished Professor of Modern Middle Eastern History, at Brown University which says about him: Doumani is also a public intellectual who writes on current events in the Middle East, on the ethics of knowledge production, and on the relationship between culture and politics. He led a team that produced a strategic plan for the establishment of a Palestinian museum, and recently received the Sawyer Seminar award from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for his proposal, “Displacement and the Making of the Modern World: Histories, Ecologies, and Subjectivities.”
To: Professor Beshara Doumani
Dated Thu, Sep 30, 2010 at 6:57 PM
Dear Prof. Doumani,
And so, continuing to probe my youngling's observations of your talk, I asked him the question that I had been mulling over while driving to your talk: "As you already know, whenever I attend talks by learned peoples, interesting as it is what they often say, I try to focus more on what they aren't going to say - did you notice any profound omissions?"
Once again he did not disappoint me when he instantly responded, "I immediately noticed that when the speaker mentioned the 'Balfour Declaration' and betrayed his vast knowledge of the history of imperial fiat, he did not once mention the word Rothschild."
The Balfour Declaration addressed to Lord Rothschild November 2nd 1917
Caption The Balfour Declaration: Dear Lord Rothschild*
All the best,
Zahir Ebrahim

Footnote * Balfour Declaration image is not in the text of the letter. It is reproduced here to demonstrate that the omission from a historian in his hour long public lecture is not insignificant. No public intellectual dare mention that name --- including among the Palestinians! This pattern of self-policing among distinguished scholars repeats without any known exceptions (to my knowledge) in the American academe and the press. Consequently, the students, and the public, remain ignorant of the fact that the Balfour Declaration is in the name of Lord Rothschild. Therefore, the opportunity to ask why that should have been the case is not permitted to arise. This one key deception ensures that none will ever understand the uncanny immutable nature of the “iron wall” that continues to ensure the ongoing colonization and occupation of Palestine before which all the heads of Western states bow. This leads to specious resistance among the people who have empathy for the Palestinians, but which can never bear any significant fruit, such as BDS, weekend protest marches, sailing to Gaza, and what have you. None confront the owner / primemover of the Jewish state. For this cunning omission, scholarly elites who ought to know the truth are easily silenced with incentives of lucrative careers, awards, anointments, generous paychecks. Most become so invested in their own successes, and become so dependent on the system that feeds them, that it easily soothes their conscience to stay within the permitted thought spectrum so as to not jeopardize their paychecks, their rise to glory. Often this is done without much cognitive dissonance, almost instinctively, where the primordial instinct for survival automatically puts rational bounds on one's intellectual energies. The evidence is that none who are distinguished in the American Academe and the press, ever dare touch taboo topics. If some ever brave that far, they only do so gingerly, and shy away from uncovering and telling the whole truth of the matter with the same intellectual vigor as in their other endeavors that are more acceptable to the system, and in which they find significant rewards for their labors. Anyone who ventures past the book-ends of acceptable thought (and expresses those thoughts) fears seeing an end to their flying careers in the American academe and the press – despite all the freedom of speech you can eat. In Europe of course, one fears jail time. Truth-tellers must be a rare commodity in any modernity where its imperial coin is hammered in co-option. This first order intellectual cowardice of craftily lying by omission, and from which all the rest of the evils follow, is further dissected in Palestine: The Illusion of Power and the Calculus of Dispossession.

Letter dated Thu, Sep 30, 2010 | Published with footnote November 15, 2016 815

Zahir Ebrahim's Letter to UCB Palestinian Professor Beshara Doumani on history of Palestine