Saturday, November 17, 2007

Bukra fil mish-mish

Things could work out if people put their minds to it. My faith is in the power of people to write history. One of the tragedies is that we very often sit back feeling that we have no power and that all we can do is express is our optimism or pessimism.
-- from Peace is Possible: Sari Nusseibeh in conversation with Ian Black.
At the beginning of the first intifada, in 1988, Israel expelled Mubarak Awad, a Palestinian-American child psychologist who advocated Gandhian tactics for resisting the occupation. The Israeli government understood right away that nonviolent tactics had the potential to embarrass Israel, and was determined to stop him. In truth, however, the government had no reason to be worried, since Awad made no headway among the Palestinians. I once asked a Palestinian friend why in his opinion Awad failed to convince the Palestinians of the validity of nonviolent tactics. His answer was revealing: nonviolent struggle is perceived by his fellow Palestinians as "unmanly." They are drawn to the slogan "What was taken by force must be regained by force."
-- from Avishai Margalit on A Moral Witness to the 'Intricate Machine', one David Shulman, who writes:
I have always hated the symbolic. It is the cheapest, most meretricious act of the mind, and the furthest away from anything real. But today, as I sift through the brown, moist soil under the eyes of the settlers, even I cannot resist the sense of something horribly symbolic. [The settlers] claim to feel something for this land, yet they treat it—her—with contempt. It, she, interests them mostly as an object to be raped, despoiled, and above all stolen by brute force from its rightful owners. It belongs, in this wild, ravished, ravishing landscape, to the people of the caves.

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