As my partner and I were taking what has become our routine journey (twice a month) from my parents’ home in Al-Ram (between Jerusalem and Ramallah) to the Sheikh Hussein Bridge heading for Amman-Jordan, he raised an interesting question. Noting that the State of Israel has devoted so much energy and resources to “protect” itself through occupation, the separation wall and check points, he wondered whether Israelis foresee a solution, or do they believe that the current situation is a final solution? Our bi-weekly trip to the bridge provides the context for this question.
My parents’ home is on the outskirts of Jerusalem, which under normal circumstances could have been a natural expansion of Jerusalem. It could have been a desirable suburb in a normal setting, as it has access to the northern exit, making a northern trip swift. This was a plus when my father decided to buy that plot of land, as he is originally from the Nazareth area, and we used to make the trip up north almost weekly to visit family.
With the continuing Palestinian Israeli conflict and the resulting decision by the Israeli government to build the wall, Al-Ram neighborhood was one of the areas that suffered. To make matters worse, the State of Israel has an Industrial zone (“Atarot”) opposite our neighborhood, which means that they needed access to it. As a result the “Wall” was erected in the middle of the street dividing it into two parallel streets and declaring one side of it as Israeli and part of Jerusalem while the other side as Area B. (Area B: The Oslo II Accord of Sep. 28th 1995 has created three “temporary” distinct administrative divisions of the Palestinian territories thus creating what have become areas A, B and C. According to Oslo Accord, Area B is Israeli controlled but administered by Palestinian Authority.)
This arrangement meant that we no longer have the convenient access of the northern route and now in order to leave our neighborhood and reach Jerusalem, we have two options. The first is Qalandya checkpoint, . . .
Read more: The Israeli Future? A View From Both Sides of the Wall
Carl Schmitt (11 July 1888 – 7 April 1985) is alive and well. Thank you for asking. As a matter of fact, he is walking the streets of Jerusalem nowadays, taking notes that confirm his understanding of politics as the realm in which the friend-foe distinction rules. If he were really alive today, he would notice that his distinction permeates everyday life as a series of racial confrontations. Last week, this culminated in an attempted lynching by a mob of Jewish Israeli teenagers of a few Palestinian youth.
On the Friday night of August the 17th, four Palestinian young people from East Jerusalem strolled the city center, trying to enjoy its night life, relaxing after a day of Ramadan fasting. They were attacked by the mob shouting racial slogans, beating them, and leaving one of the Palestinians unconscious and seriously wounded. The attack took place in the open public, viewed passively by hundreds of people. Only a few intervened, saving the lives of the Palestinians. The rest of the crowd feared for their own life, or worse, supported the mob.
The attack is the latest example of escalating racial violence conducted by both sides. In April this year, another mob, fans of the Jerusalem football club Beitar Jerusalem, violently confronted Palestinian workers in a Jerusalem shopping mall. And on November 2010, a group of Jewish students who mistakenly entered the streets of Al-Issawiya, a Jerusalem Palestinian neighborhood, were stoned almost to death, narrowly escaping with the help of the police.
The latest attack aroused a public uproar in Israel. Chief of the Israel Police, Yohanan Danino, acted decisively, denouncing the attack, establishing a special investigating team that soon arrested the suspects, who confessed participating, justifying themselves with a racist agenda. Many of them were seen as teenage drop-outs. Also politicians joined in the denunciations, first among them: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, President Shimon Peres, and the Speaker of Parliament Rubi Rivlinwho visited the wounded Palestinian teenager in the hospital.
It seems that the alarming lessons of what happened in Tel Aviv on May 22th, which I analyzed in my . . .
Read more: Carl Schmitt in Jerusalem: Reflecting on the Mob Violence of August 17th
In a post submitted before Osama Bin Laden was eliminated, Gary Alan Fine poses a question that is especially pressing after this latest development in the ongoing global wars. -Jeff
Coming out of a bar late one night, a patron finds his friend on his hands and knees searching desperately beneath a streetlamp. “I lost my keys under my car and I must find them,” moans his friend. “But why, if the keys are under a car, are you searching under this lamp?” “Well, the light is much better here.”
This is an old chestnut, none too clever, but one that has powerful political resonance, helping to explain flawed policy decisions. Why, if we worry about the menace of Al Qaeda, have we gone to war against two states – Iraq and Libya – that have distant, even hostile, relations with our terrorist foes. The light is better there.
A student of mine, Michaela DeSoucey, currently at Princeton, wrote her doctoral dissertation about the battles to ban foie gras. She asked the question why is it that animal rights activists chose to make the banning of foie gras a central issue, despite the small amount of foie gras consumed by Americans, as opposed to veal, much more common on American tables – or chicken. Neither baby cows nor poultry sleep under 300-thread count sheets. Her argument is that battling foie gras producers is a far easier task than the cattle or poultry industry. Yet, each battle provides a rich vein of publicity. Foie gras is what DeSoucey labels an easy target: it is, if one can pardon the culinary-mixed metaphor “low-hanging fruit.” Activists hope, but do not expect, that such targets can provide a wedge for other bigger enemies. Not yet.
But my concern is not with the pantry, but with the atlas. Here we are battling in Libya, while Syria falls into chaos. Americans and our NATO allies have determined that it is crucial that we overthrow the Qaddafi regime, even though that regime is opposed to Al Qaeda as are we. And, frankly, it is becoming a vexing pattern. We . . .
Read more: Easy Targets
The recent violent conflict over the blockade of Gaza enforced by Israel and the attempt of humanitarian organizations and political movements aligned against Israel to break the blockade reminds me of the fundamental nature of conflict. Amos Oz once summed up the situation as he understands it:
“[I]t is high time that honest people outside the region .. conceive of [the Palestinian Israeli conflict] as a tragedy and not as some ‘Wild – West Show,’ containing good guys and bad guys. Tragedies can be resolved in one of two ways: there is the Shakespearean resolution and there is the Chekhovian one. At the end of the Shakespeare tragedy, the stage is strewn with dead bodies, and maybe there’s some justice hovering high above. A Chekhov tragedy, on the other hand, ends with everybody disillusioned, embittered, heartbroken, disappointed, absolutely shattered, but still alive. And I want a Chekhovian resolution, not a Shakespearean one, for the Israeli – Palestinian tragedy.”
I completely agree. A persecuted people, after centuries of oppression and exclusion in Europe, culminating in genocide, find a place for themselves in what they perceive to be their ancient homeland. A peaceful people are forced off their land, displaced, homeless, subjected to second class citizenship. As Israelis and Palestinians fight against each other in their pursuit of justice, justice is denied. The majority on both sides, at least at times, have even agreed on what they perceive as a just solution, a two state solution, with Jerusalem as the capital of two nations, but getting there from here has made the solution elusive, if not impossible. Repeated failure has led to despair and aggression. On both sides, majorities are convinced that the other side is not serious about a just resolution, not serious about peace. Against these majorities, some try to keep alternatives alive. Their activities remind me of small things I had observed in the U.S. and in East and Central Europe.
A most compelling example of people who work against the common sense about the other is The Parents Circle, a Palestinian Israeli organization of “bereaved families for peace.” I first met them at their Israeli headquarters outside of Tel Aviv when a student . . .
Read more: Looking at Gaza, Remembering Tragedy, Looking for Hope in Small Things.