2007 Edward Said Memorial Lecture


Speaker: Dr Ghada Karmi

Author, Academic, Commentator

Lecture title:

Israel's dilemma in Palestine: Origins and Solutions

SATURDAY, 6 October 2007, 5:30PM-7:00PM


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About Dr Ghada Karmi

Dr Ghada Karmi is a Palestinian-British author, academic and political commentator and is an honorary research fellow and assistant lecturer at the Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies at the University of Exeter in the United Kingdom.

A well known international commentator on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Dr Karmi appears widely in the British and Arab media and frequently has articles on the Middle East published in The Guardian (UK), The Nation (US) and Journal of Palestine Studies.

Although born in Jerusalem, Dr Karmi has spent most of her life in Britain, where she studied medicine and initially practised as a physician, specialising in the health and social conditions of ethnic minorities, migrants and asylum seekers.

In her 2002 autobiography, In Search of Fatima: A Palestinian Story, she describes growing up in the Jerusalem neighbourhood of Katamon, with its mixture of Christian and Muslim Palestinians. With her family she was forced to flee in 1948 and settled in London, where her father worked for the BBC Arabic service.

A year before his death Edward Said described Dr Karmi's autobiography as "a stunning memoir...extraordinarily well written and amazingly honest."

"Hers is a story of exile and displacement...rich in detail and human experience. Karmi is excellent on the quality of family and even communal life in Mandatory Palestine...she also has a wonderfully subtle way of showing how in thousands of different ways the political and the personal intermesh, and this she does with a skill and insight that could be a novelist's envy," Edward Said wrote.

In July 2007, Dr Karmi released her new book, Married to Another Man: Israel's Dilemma in Palestine. She borrows her title from a phrase from a cable sent by Vienna's rabbis who visited Palestine in the 19th century which said, "The bride is beautiful, but she is married to another man." Karmi makes a sharp distinction between binationalism and secular democracy in advocating a binational state. "The binational solution permitted a degree of communal autonomy and identity but also of separation. In that sense it was another way of preserving for Jewish Israelis the concept on which the whole Zionist enterprise was founded." She argues that "In a secular democratic state, on the other hand, citizens would have rights not derived from membership in an ethnic or religious group... Unlike the binationalist state, a secular democracy was likely to be conducive towards helping its citizens develop a common national identity..."

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