- Deanna Isaacs
- Ali Abunimah gets his day at the Evanston Public Library.
After two postponements and a social-media dustup, Palestinian-American author Ali Abunimah and the Evanston Public Library were pointedly making nice at Abunimah’s reinstated event (cosponsored by Neighbors for Peace) at the library Monday night.
Library head Karen Danczak Lyons said the library, in its role as “public square,” is all about dialogue. Abunimah said they were “on the same page” now. An overflow crowd was warmly supportive. Cops were present, but not needed.
It was a love-in.
Abunimah—who mentioned Steven Salaita’s apparent job loss at the University of Illinois—read a section on Gaza from his book, The Battle for Justice in Palestine, commented on the bloody events that have erupted there since it was published, and answered a half-dozen friendly questions.
He dismissed the single exception, a question about whether economic development would be better than “embracing violence” as a mere “salad” without any substance: a “recitation of talking points we’ve been hearing for years.”
Israel is conducting a campaign to destroy Gaza’s economy, Abunimah said. “Armed resistance is taboo,” but, for those who oppose BDS (the boycott, divestment, sanctions movement), “nonviolence is also out. What do they want us to do? They want us to sit there and sing Kumbaya.”
Abunimah said that more than one of every thousand residents of Gaza has been killed in the current siege, and that it will be “unacceptable to return to the status quo.”
“If we want to end this violence,” he concluded, it’ll have to be “by dismantling the system of racial supremacy, and that system of racial supremacy in the context of Palestine is called Zionism.”
After a standing ovation he autographed copies of his book, on sale in the lobby.