A number of precedents and earlier discussions which concentrated on the Al Andalus Convivencia are important to mention here. We hope that the details below will inform readers of the continuous and consistent interest in Convivencia as a durable source of inspiration for all of us who act towards a just peace in Palestine/Israel. One of the most important events took place in Toledo, Spain, in 1989, and brought together a group of Arab, Palestinian and Mizrahi intellectuals for a discussion of both history of Convivencia in one of its historical locations, as well as the possible lessons for a common future. Unfortunately, there was no real follow-up to this meeting, as Palestinian effort then sifted toward the Madrid and Oslo forums, leading to the blind alley of the Oslo Accords of 1993, and to the current impasse.
The Toledo meeting was part of what is now the CIT Pax, The Toledo International Centre for Peace, available on http://www.toledopax.org/en/areas/middle-east, and dealing with global peace efforts and mediation initiatives. Toledo is considered a ‘meeting point of cultures’ and has acted as home to many such peace initiatives. An example is the Socialist International Committee meeting in Toledo during May 2003, concentrating of the 2003 Iraq War and false attempts made by the Quartet to restart Israel/Palestine negotiations. Unfortunately, the SI meeting has taken the Quartet ‘Roadmap’ as a serious attempt and congratulated it, not realising it as another false flag operation.
The Toledo Meeting, 1989
A Note from Prof. Ella Shohat, NYU:
“Al-Andalus and the Convivencia were the inspiration to hold a special meeting in Toledo, Spain in 1989, largely between Sephardi/Mizrahi/Arab-Jews and Palestinians. The meeting included key intellectuals and political figures from various countries and backgrounds, deploying the past Convivencia to imagine a different future. Many of those who had only Israeli passports, mostly Mizrahi/Arab-Jews, risked arrest for defiance of the law that forbade such meetings. Many years later, we are not yet at the hoped-for Convivencia moment. Yet, the struggle and spirit should continue to guide us. I understand that many on the left may not at all be aware of this pre-Oslo event precisely because of its erasure in the public sphere. But congratulations to the Convivencia Network for pointing to this lineage on its public platform and making it part of the collective “historical consciousness,” i.e. as a project that in its spirit continues the Toledo Convivencia efforts but at a different political juncture.”
The article retelling the story of the Toledo meeting has been published on Jadaliyya, Sept. 30, 2014 (Also included in Shohat’s On the Arab-Jew, Palestine, and Other Displacements: Selected Writings, London: Pluto Press, 2017) and can be accessed here. We urge you to read Prof. Shohat’s fascinating report on this unusual and inspirational meeting, which is a crucial part of the history of the concept as a foundation for the search for a just and durable peace in Palestine.
An additional report on the Toledo meeting
Daniel Elaazar, from the Jerusalem Centre for Public Affairs, has partaken in the Toledo meeting as an observer, and drafted a report which can be read here. It is interesting to read this slight, amateurish, bizarre, deeply Zionist and right-wing biased text, as well as historically inaccurate, in contrast to the detailed report by Professor Shohat above, as it illuminates the depth-currents within Zionism and innate hostilities to all things Arab and Muslim, as well as towards ‘the Left’, seen an international threat to Israel and Zionism; this is one of the earliest examples of the rabid nature of the New Antisemitism thesis. To read more about this somewhat unhinges historical school of Zionist propaganda, which eventually led to the creation of the IHRA Working Definition of Antisemitism, read Haim Bresheeth-Žabner’s article here.