The Daily Life of Kawther Salam
..: Palestinian Nakba Activities Hindered in Vienna :..
May 17, 2008
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The Diakoniewerk, which is the owner and administration of Albert Schweitzer Haus in Vienna, a student home and cultural center affiliated with the evangelical church of Austria and which also organizes cultural activities and allows other organizations to hold cultural activities in Vienna, cancelled an event which had been organized by an Austrian organization (Gaza muss Leben) for 17.May 2008. The event included a discussion and a concert, it was to be about the theme "Gaza must live" and in the memory of the 60 years of the Palestinian Nakba (Catastrophe).
The refusal of Albert Schweitzer Haus came suddenly, and after the invitations had already been sent out and few days before holding the legal activity.
I asked Dr. Zuheir Elwazer, the Palestinian Ambassador in Vienna, for his comment about the decision. He said that
Dr. Elwazer added that his experience as the Ambassador of Palestine in Austria has shown him that we have many Austrian friends who express their solidarity with us, who organize their efforts and make pressure to support the Palestinian rights to end the Israeli occupation. These Austrian friends hold many activities and they do their best to support the Palestinian Nation, just like there are many Austrian who support the other side, "Israel", and work for their interests. So why do they hinder the activities which concern the Palestinians and not also stop the activities which support the other side?
Said Khadra, a Palestinian activist, also commented on this issue. He said that
On Thursday May 15 2008 I sent the administration of Albert Schweitzer Haus an E-Mail asking for a clarification about the reasons for their refusal and cancellation at last minute of this cultural event, which was seen as an insult by the Palestinian community in Vienna. Why would they cancel at last minute the permission to use their premises for a commemoration of the Palestinian Nakba and a remembrance of the daily suffering of the inhabitants of Gaza under the Israeli colonial occupation ? In my respectful request to the Albert Schweitzer Haus I clarified that I am a Palestinian journalist and a victim of the Israeli genocide, and that their clarifying answer is very important for the objectivity of my journalistic work.
Until Albert Schweitzer Haus sends a clarification regarding their cancellation, the Palestinian community will consider that the hidden reasons behind their cancellation of this important event of commemoration a very short time before it was due to take place, was undue pressure from the Jewish community in Vienna. The Palestinians condemn this awful decision, which insults their history in an extremely inconsiderate way. We ask that the administration of the Albert Schweitzer Haus re-evaluate its decision, which is based on questionable standards, and on fear. Diakonie and Albert-Schweitzer Haus may not know it, but they have become part of a long list of individuals and organizations around the world, which have been scared into silence by zionist organizations. They should know that my compassion is with them.
Dr. Anthony Lowstedt, a professor at the American University, commented about this shameful spectacle in this way:
News about this unlogical and shameful cave-in does not appear in the daily media in Vienna. The (Austrian) organizer of this activity tried to find an alternative location to hold this legitimate activity on the same day as planned. Initially, the Austrian Chamber of Workers, Arbeiterkammer, allowed the organizers to use their premises, but, as the organizers posted on their website, the Arbeiterkammer also retracted their permission due to extreme and undue pressure from the Jewish community. Why does the jewish community act like this ? What do they have to gain from throwing their lot in with the illegal and immoral Israeli occupation, and hindering perfectly legal and legitimate cultural activities, apparently attempting - not very successfully - to cover up the genocide against Palestinians ? Have they learned nothing from their own fairly recent history?
And, how would the Jewish community react if their (almost weekly) activities in remembrance of the holocaust were cancelled due to external pressure?
Addition 19 May 2008 - Text (translation) of my Email to Diakonie.at: (I have not yet received a response)
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