Originally Published Dec 31, 2009
The above article is about a group of protesters in Egypt who are opposed to the blockade of Gaza. Most likely if you are reading this it means that you have yet to fall in to the trap of the post-literate world view and are probably aware of Cynthia McKinney's attempts to protest the blockade as well which ended with her being released from an Israeli detention facility.
Many things about this article piqued my interest, but one glaring omission is what motivated me to try to share this with others.
Where are the Palestinians?
In this article there are no Palestinians. There are no Palestinians with a voice. They have become palestinians, this idea/word that steals a voice, that de-politicizes, and therefore dehumanizes. Maybe Palestinians love the blockade its like the greatest thing thats ever happened to some of them. But I don't fucking know that if I view the world through the stimuli available to me such as Disney's ABC. In this life where the world comes to me in sound bites, articles, talking heads/pundits, etc. I have been distanced from the Palestinian, I have been told of the palestinian, that amorphous blob of victims that deserved the collective punishment because they are inhuman.
How am I to know the palestinian? We all know that direct action whether peaceful or violent only has an effect if it has publicity. If I have no methods available to me to access what direct actions Palestinians are taking and what words they are writing/saying I am only learning about how others view the Palestinian, so I am truly only learning about the palestinian.
Where is journalism? Without it a democracy cannot function. Where are readers? Without them a democracy cannot function.
What, if anything, is available to me as an action to effectively achieve the abolition of the blockade? Will these same means help abolish the Cuban blockade? From what I can tell the ability to directly effect either of these things is beyond my economic means(lobbying/corruption), beyond my charismatic means(trying to lead a popular movement), and beyond my intelligence(hacktivism). The only means I have are to speak to others to see if they also see the divide between the human Palestinian and the de-politicizsed palestinian. If I had access to more words of the other, I could disseminate such words this would be effective resistance. Not to speak for the palestinian, but to put the words of the Palestinian through my, albeit small, megaphone is an act of resistance against the blockade. The blockade itself can only be achieved because of the conflation between inhuman de-politicized palestinian and Palestinian in the mainstream media. I can cut away at those assumptions by reproducing the truth of humanity in Palestinians. The truth of the everyday suffering of any human who is proclaimed less than, who is proclaimed a second class citizen, a criminal, a terrorist, who must have their construction helmets marked with a spraypaint X. It is not enough to proclaim the less than human status of the Palestinian, they must be marked off with borders to demarcate where order ends and chaos begins in this fashion the state/identity one was born in to looks so safe. When the other does actually get over the border(because depoliticized subjects make for a great cheap labor source) to do some construction work for example, make sure to spraypaint a large X on their helmets. When a palestinian gets over the border we must mark the border with an X. With this X we can demarcate this inhuman, de-politicized, realm of uncivilized savagery to help us remember that we are peaceful and democratic.
I can't find the picture on the internet, big surprise, and can't remember which book it was in, but palestnians were wearing badges of an x on the helmet when in Israel at certain sites. When certain press outlets found this slightly too dehumanizing it changed because people got angry. We all know that our participation in the dehumanization of Palestinians is part of what keeps it going, but we also know that its wrong. Every last one of us knows at some level as situations like this prove when too big of an increment of change in the ongoing process of dehumanization occur that people actually do get bothered and change it. But of course the adage holds true if you throw a frog in boiling water it jumps right out, if you bring the pot to a boil with the frog in it he'll boil right up. And no the Palestinians are not the frog, you're the frog, we're all the frog who need to re-examine what we take for granted. For example that the water is 10 degrees hotter than it was 10 minutes ago, or that Palestinians are human and have a voice and deserve the opportunity for some sort of self-determination which usually takes the form of the creation of a nation-state as it did for Zionism. Just don't fucking get it, the answer to a depoliticised, dehumanized subject is: a voice, self-determination, and usually a state/autonomy. The problem in creating autonomy/state is everyones already got territory staked out. But in this situation there is already a large chunk of land that nobody has a more legitimate claim to than the Palestinians. They also have the UN backing because Israel according to a UN directive has to relinquish "territories gained in the recent conflict" the UN thing that was written in 1967. The de facto "being on the territory" combined with a UN directive is more than enough legitimacy to create a state. Not to mention that Jordan has formally forfeited all claims on territory outside its current borders.
But Palestinian states have been proclaimed, multiple Palestinian leaders have stepped forward to offer Israel recognition in return for their own recognition. Why is Palestine still not a state?
This book "Sharon and my mother in law" by Suad Amiry is an incredible read. It is the words of a Palestinian the voice of a Palestinian, not Disney giving voice to someone speaking for a palestinian. The book is incredible I noticed two great themes in it. First of all the mundane nature of the occupation from an individual's point of view. The occupation is always there a sword of Damocles hanging over everyone's head, but it articulates itself in such interesting ways. The absurdity of the form the occupation takes and its intervention in to the daily lives of humans trying to survive and help their loved ones lends itself to this Kafkaesque world that is: occupation, dehumanization, etc it is all these things. Many argue that Kafka was an anti-colonial writer (this article you may have to sneak on to a college campus library to look at it if you're really interested i can find it and copy paste: http://muse.jhu.edu/login?uri=/journals/tae/v008/8.3kohn.html ) that article focuses on the book "in the penal colony". If you've ever read Kafka you will find this book doubly amazing. Of course Edward Said is a Palestinian whose book "Orientalism" was apparently just purged from Scribd.