The Israeli occupying army invaded the Old City of Nablus last night, looking for wanted men. They didn't find whoever they were looking for, but perhaps as a consolation they killed one man and injured seven others, one critically. We here in Balata didn't know about the invasion until this morning, but it apparently raged on all night into the morning.
The streets of the Old City were quiet today for a Thursday. Shops closed their doors, and the few that remained open left only small signs that they were in operation. Since the beginning of the second intifada, shops have closed their doors on days following operations during which people were killed, out of respect for the dead. This was the first person Israel has killed in the West Bank since the January 4 invasion of Ramallah, which left four dead and twenty-something injured. Inshallah he will be the last, though this is an unreasonable hope.
In the past year, during which the intifada has basically ended, Israel has killed more than 400 Palestinians. In this time, the Palestinians virtually ceased all violent attacks on Israeli civilians (minus, of course, the silly rocket attacks launched from Gaza, which rarely do any damage at all, usually landing somewhere in the desert).
In other developments, it appears as if Israel is going ahead with its master plan to divide the West Bank into three separate cantons (or bantustans). No one in the American (or European, for that matter) press will mention these developments, and it is hard to be sure of exactly what they mean for the future of this country. But from the ground, up, one cannot miss the unmistakable signs of Israeli construction and cement laying.
The plan involves taking away most of the 100-something barriers and checkpoints that prevent Palestinians from moving within their ever-shrinking territory. Instead of operating all of these costly checkpoints, the Israelis are opting for a simpler solution. A 'Final Solution,' if you will. If the plan goes forward to completion, there will soon be only three or four, major checkpoints in the West Bank. They've already finished construction on the first, the Kalandia checkpoint, between Jerusalem and Ramallah. It looks more like an international border crossing than a checkpoint. Apparently the Israelis will construct two more of these monstrosities, dividing the West Bank into three. Passage between the cantons, like nearly everything else here, will be arbitrarily decided by the occupiers.
Each time I return to this scarred landscape, it is changed for the worse. I can't imagine what it will be like the next time I come.
Meanwhile, discussion of the conflict here is in 'official' America reduced to the following:
do we wait until the PA has completely destroyed itself, or should we intervene now and help it destroy itself? No discussion of occupation exists. There is no historical context for what occurs here, unless of course the discussion returns abruptly to the ancient Kingdom of David or the 20th century Nazi holocaust of the Jews. The two-thousand years between these two events have disappeared from the record.
Fortunately, not everyone forgets these years. Perhaps this is why Israeli scientists have for years been attempting to prove that Jewish and Palestinian DNA strands show a close, nearly familial relation. Unfortunately, this science is not read as we may hope it would be---you are brothers! You should unite! No no no, it is instead used to justify the presence of a racist, Zionist state inside of Palestine. Instead of serving as an opportunity to unite the people of this land, this science, and numerous others, is used to erase Palestinian history and cover it with the however thin skin of Jewish right to the land---and even to the extermination of the people in it. 'See,' the Israeli media and scientific establishment proclaim, 'we were here! They are our relations, and that proves that Jews have a right to kill them and take their land!'
The Palestinians, and most other people in the world, do not see it in this light. When will American foreign policy-makers wake up to the realization that our official support for Israel does nothing positive for anyone? All we can do is continue to work against racism in every form---in our hearts and minds, our government at home and its exportation to other lands. It pains me to see racism tear apart communities in the US, and the same thing happening here, three thousand miles away. What began in Europe during the so-called 'Enlightenment' is spiraling out of control in an age we euphemistically refer to as 'globalized'. If we are only globalizing neo-liberal economics and European racism, I vote against it.
Luckily, here in Palestine I witness a different kind of globalization. This one revolves around concepts such as peace based on political, racial, social and economic justice. I am fortunate to have been able to travel here and witness this other, explicitly political form of globalization. It is my hope that oppressed peoples all over the world will be able to take back what is theirs, building a better world together through a united front against all forms of oppression and for a better world for all of the world's children. Meanwhile, we white people (even those of us who are among the oppressed) need to confront ourselves and our institutions and call them what they are: racist, dehumanizing and wrong. Then we've got to step aside, for once, and stop being in control.