After its Iraq war funding standdown and its Cindy Sheehan burning at the stake, DailyKos is a lost cause for leftist politics, but some progressives struggle on there. And now there’s a new poster I’ve never heard of, bbr, who’s written The Missing. What a profound essay it is (not counting an ill-advised ‘anecdote about my kid’), on the human tragedy of that place central to U.S. imperial policy and Middle East conflict, Israel & Palestine.
bbr begins (emphasis added):
At any point in time, it’s important not just to know that peace is missing, but why it’s missing. And that changes over time, and is always somewhat different depending on whether you are talking about political/governmental peace or person-to-person/societal peace. Although the former type is what we spend far too much time talking about, it is the latter that really counts, in my mind.
And that peace, the peace between people, is missing because, when you are in Israel, the Palestinians are missing. Almost entirely.
And when you’re in Palestine (Eastern Palestine, anyway), although Israel is everywhere – in the form of Jewish-only settlements, Jewish-only roads, the Army, the Air Force and the Wall — and although Israeli soldiers and settlers are all around, the Israeli people with whom the Palestinians must make peace are also missing.
Skip the cute kid anecdote and then read on as bbr describes a visit to Hebron:
The Old City of Hebron, the area of the once vibrant souq/casbah, is, quite simply, gone. Military orders, settler violence, settler expansionism, soldiers changing policies from day to day, decimation of the Palestinian economy. Put them all together and you have what I saw in Hebron – shops welded shut, houses empty, streets barren, markets looted, bushes and vines growing in the middle of once-busy streets.
Then things get even heavier, as bbr writes of the graffiti — probably from the local and ever-expanding and encroaching Jewish-only settlements — sprayed on half of Hebron’s shuttered Arab shops. This is about all the Palestinians see of their settler neighbors:
“There are Arabs, there are rats.” (Makes more sense as graffiti in the Hebrew, as it’s a bit of a play on words: “Yesh Aravim, yesh achbarim”)
“Arabs to the gas chambers.”
“Arabs are sand n—-ers.” (the one I saw of this is signed by the extremist group the JDL, or Jewish Defense League)
Finally and most moving, as bbr walks the streets of Old Hebron he undergoes an experience that shakes his sense of identity as a Jew. It begins as follows:
I still have chills from hearing the muezzin’s call to prayer from the Machpelah/Tomb of the Patriarchs and Matriarchs, which is now divided into a Jewish holy site and the Ibrahimi mosque. What does it mean to hear the call to prayer when there is almost no one who can get there? After all, on one of the main streets that a Muslim could theoretically walk to in order to get to the mosque, I was stopped by an Israeli border policeman. And he asked me but one simple question.
“Are you Jewish?”
I hesitated. First because I hadn’t quite understood, or expected, the question. Then I realized what he was asking. …
Read on, and if you can’t stomach going over to dailykos for the post, you can also find it at www.semitism.net.
And as penance for my crack about ‘my cute kid’ anecdotes, here’s a pic of a cute little Israeli girl (from the website of a wonderful movie, First Lesson in Peace):
… and a cute little Palestinian boy (from the global exchange website):