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The Ramallah bubble just popped: Reflections on a city under siege

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Palestinian flee during the Israeli army incursion in Ramallah, 22 June 2014. (Photo: Abbas Momani/AFP)

Palestinian flee during the Israeli army incursion in Ramallah, 22 June 2014. (Photo: Abbas Momani/AFP)

The Ramallah bubble just popped.

Just a few days ago I reassured a colleague living in Jerusalem not to worry, because Ramallah is safe. “Is that what you tell yourselves?” she asked. I knew, of course, that anything could happen here, but had wrongly assumed that Ramallah was to some extent off-limits, even amidst all that’s been happening around us.

How easily I’ve become accustomed to these safe spaces. And it’s not just Ramallah. Beit Sahour, where I used to live, was raided. My workplace for more than two years, Birzeit University, was invaded a few nights ago. Then there are the regular spots: Jalazone camp, where one of my best friends lives, lost someone a few days ago; Nablus, where I often go to visit friends and relax at the Turkish baths, lost someone who was shot on his way to Morning Prayer; Hebron. My friend’s village of Jayyous was invaded a few nights ago; its main road connecting it with the city of Qalqilya blocked by a giant mound of rocks and earth put there by the Israelis. The army has raided practically every village, town and city in the West Bank over the past week. Five young people have been killed in the last week in the West Bank, plus one elderly man who had a heart attack when the Israeli army invaded his home. Gaza was also bombed a few times – killing a seven-year old child – but who was paying attention?

This is all not to mention the 80 political prisoners that had not eaten but for water and salt for the past 63 days (!) to protest being detained without charged. It’s scary just how unmoved the world is by such things when they involve Palestinians. What’s even scarier is how desensitized so many Palestinians have become. Or maybe disillusioned is a better way to describe it. But who can blame them? They are up against one of the most powerful militaries in the world, which for more than 60 years has been able to colonize, kill, displace and steal with impunity. To make matters so much worse, they have to deal with the PA, whose primary uses for the occupation have become suppressing any type of resistance and sharing intelligence.

Sunday’s raid on Ramallah was just the latest example of the grotesque charade that is the Israeli occupation. After the army left the downtown area of Ramallah, protestors re-focused their discontent at the Palestinian Authority (PA) police station in light of the PA’s ongoing security coordination with Israel. The PA responded by shooting live bullets at the crowd, but had difficulty holding back the enraged protestors. Like true teammates, the Israeli army then returned to chase the protestors away from the police station and save the PA from the people! If this isn’t a wake-up call for Palestinians to resist the PA I don’t know what is.

The Israelis say they are searching for three kidnapped Israeli settlers, and that it is Hamas who is responsible. Yet if it were Hamas, wouldn’t they have admitted it and wouldn’t they have been making demands like releasing the hunger striking prisoners? What is much clearer is that Israel is using this incident to undo the unity pact between Fatah and Hamas. They say they are trying to weaken Hamas, and to destabilize the unity government. But it is just as likely that Palestinians will instead turn to Hamas and other Islamist parties since they are the only ones seen to be resisting in any way.

Or who knows? Maybe they will turn on Hamas for bringing the wrath of Israel on their communities. A lot of Palestinians I talk to these days—maybe even the majority—just want to live their lives. They don’t want to get involved in the resistance movements because they don’t want to get arrested and don’t see what it will accomplish. As a young Palestinian guy and former political detainee I met a few nights ago told me, he and his friends just want to make a bit of money and live their lives in Ramallah, or if possible, leave Palestine altogether. “Cus-ukht al-ihtilaal,” (fuck the occupation), bas shoo bidna nsawe (what can we do)?” As much as I wanted to break into my shpeil about BDS etc, I realized there is nothing I could really say that would re-ignite his motivation.

I wish I could say that the popping of the Ramallah bubble is what was needed to mobilize people to take to the streets on mass here and demand change—a sort of third Intifada, first Intifada style. But unfortunately, without any real faith among Palestinians that anything will truly change for the better as a result, such a scenario remains highly unlikely.

Corey Peruca
About Corey Peruca

Corey Peruca lives and works in Ramallah.

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23 Responses

  1. Woody Tanaka
    Woody Tanaka on June 26, 2014, 11:29 am

    “I knew, of course, that anything could happen here, but had wrongly assumed that Ramallah was to some extent off-limits,”

    You gave the Zionists too much credit. Hell, giving them ANY credit to act like decent people or even human beings is giving them too much credit.

    • Kay24
      Kay24 on June 26, 2014, 2:26 pm

      You are right nothing is off limits to the zionists. They want to get rid of all Arabs in the territories, and more. No Arab will stand between their goal, and they will use lies and violence, to achieve that, and most definitely no decent people will stoop to such inhuman behavior. Nothing these zionists do should surprise us now.

    • Speedy
      Speedy on June 26, 2014, 11:19 pm

      Really? One does not get into the Paris club without doing kind things. Shame on you

  2. seafoid
    seafoid on June 26, 2014, 11:51 am

    Gideon Levy on form

    http://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-1.601243#

    “It takes considerable effrontery to demand that the world interests itself in the fate of three abducted Israelis, and considerable chutzpah to be disappointed by the fact that it has kept silent. Granted, Israel tried to move heaven and earth, and its ambassador/propagandist at the UN gave a moving speech in an effort to scrape up a few more public diplomacy points against Hamas. But once it was paying attention already, that bizarre world was more interested in the campaign of collective punishment imposed on thousands of West Bank residents after the kidnapping.

    That’s the way things are with the world-that’s-entirely-against-us: It’s more interested in the half-century-old occupation; it’s more upset over the fate of three million Palestinians than the fate of three Israelis. The world has no lack of kidnapping victims, but none of them ever got the attention received by kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit. With the three current kidnap victims, however, Israel no longer had a chance. Over the last two weeks, which I spent in Sweden, I didn’t run across a single mention of the abduction in the media. Not one.

    That’s what rotten fruit looks like. The world has no reason be more interested in the fate of Naftali Fraenkel, Eyal Yifrah and Gilad Shaar than it is in the fate of their age mate Mohammed Dudin, a boy of 15 who was killed by live fire from Israeli soldiers in Dura last Friday.

    It has no reason to be especially moved by the haunting words of Rachel Fraenkel, who related that her Naftali is a good boy who loves to play guitar and soccer, when Mohammed was also a good boy, who helped his father build their house during his school vacations and sold sweets to help support his family. Rachel wants to hug Naftali? Jihad, Mohammed’s bereaved father, also wants to hug his son. Incidentally, nobody brought him to Geneva. He remained alone with his mourning, at the wretched house whose construction hasn’t yet been finished, and perhaps never will be.

    The world is a mess, as they say. In Iraq, Nigeria, Syria and even Ukraine, the situation is far crueler. Yet the complete lack of interest in the kidnapped Israelis doesn’t stem from that alone. It’s impossible to demand sympathy from the world when Israel ignores the world’s decisions; it’s impossible to demand action when Israel is perpetuating the occupation; and it’s impossible to demand solidarity with the fate of Israeli victims when that same victimized Israel continues to kill, wound and arrest innocents as a matter of routine.

    Now Israel is discovering that it’s no longer the center of attention as it always was before, and that the fate of its kidnapping victims no longer stops the world in its tracks, not even in the United States. The world is sick of Israel and its insanities”

    • Walid
      Walid on June 26, 2014, 12:11 pm

      “It takes considerable effrontery to demand that the world interests itself in the fate of three abducted Israelis, and considerable chutzpah to be disappointed by the fact that it has kept silent. ”

      The world OD’d on Shalit, a nobody corporal that happened to be in the wrong place taken prisoner of war, seafoid. The Zios didn’t know when it was time to stop selling; diminishing returns and all that jazz.

    • just
      just on June 26, 2014, 12:49 pm

      The comments on Levy’s article are quite revealing.

      • seafoid
        seafoid on June 26, 2014, 2:12 pm

        Ma sha allah

        I think people really are sick of Israel.

        loosing momentum
        o By A100
        o 26 Jun 2014
        o 01:54PM
        a few weeks ago, the world celebrated 70 years of Normandy, the beginning of the end of world war two, and holocaust. the huge sympathy Israel draws from those terrible events are fading away with time, normal course of life. new generations do not feel the same about things they didn’t go through nor were told about by their parents. thus, the world expects a more just behavior now as Israel looses victim status in western consciousness
        o Reply to this talkback
        • Gideon Levy article
        o By Joan Bridgland
        o 26 Jun 2014
        o 01:40PM
        Thank you for your honest appraisal. Many in the west have long felt that the Israeli government is not interested in peace, but in prolonging the stand-off in order to build as many settlements as it can to create a new status quo, and to make life increasingly impossible for the Palestinians. I’m sure that if more people in Israel had access to books like Palestinian Walks by Raja Shehadeh, they would be horrified by what is being perpetrated in their names.
        • Gideon Levy article
        o By Elizabeth Kabarit
        o 26 Jun 2014
        o 00:36PM
        Great and thoughtful article. Thanks Gideon Levy, if more Israelis had your attitude there might finally be some hope for peace in the region
        • kidnapping
        o By levi
        o 26 Jun 2014
        o 10:35AM
        Too much is too much .. How would you like to have soldiers come into your home and upset everything …just as german soldiers did whenever one of them was killed .??? israel is not the center of the world .
        • Suprised ???
        o By sofioane Abu Amir
        o 26 Jun 2014
        o 10:35AM
        So overdue.
        • Israel can’t cry foul anymore
        o By Jeremy
        o 26 Jun 2014
        o 05:11AM
        Thank you for this very honest article. I am Jewish and a supporter of peace between Israel and the Palestinians, but can no longer feel that that what happens in Israel is more important than any where else anymore. “When Israel was a more just country, the world identified with its victims.” With the right-wing gov’t and ultra-Orthodox monopoly, Israel no longer speaks to me as a Jew. Tel Aviv speaks to me as a proud gay person, but not the rest of Israel. Which of the founders of the State said that there will be peace when our children are loved more than our enemies are hated – to paraphrase. If Netanyahu wanted peace, there would be peace. I wish the connection I always felt for Israel was still there – but it just ain’t so. The gov’t speaks out and condemns America when it fails to do Israel’s bidding. Well, the gov’t should be ashamed of itself. I feel sorry for the parents of the kidnapped boys and hope for their safe return, but don’t expect the world to stop, just because Israel says so. it doesn’t work that way anymore
        • The World is not Anti Semitic over Israel at all
        o By inbound39
        o 26 Jun 2014
        o 06:22AM
        The World is tired of Israel failing to abide by its obligations under International Law and its previous signed agreements. The World is tired of Israel attempting to impose its religious beliefs on others in an attempt to justify Territorial theft of Palestinian Land. The World is tired of Israels Criminal behaviour. It has nothing to do with the fact Israeli’s are predominantly jewish.
        • lol keith israel is heartless
        o By jsv
        o 26 Jun 2014
        o 06:43AM
        Great article on the truths.
        • the world is just indifferent
        o By nature Woman
        o 26 Jun 2014
        o 09:43AM
        • Gideon Levy is sick of this situation and has been for a long time. The world is just indifferent, just as it is to other suffering, because there is too much suffering in the world to not go numb. And Netanyahu plus wife is the worst leader we have ever had, 118 10
        View >
        Gideon’s piece
        o By Nadya
        o 26 Jun 2014
        o 05:20AM
        Excellent diagnosis of the current situation facing Israel. I don’t know what will wake up it’s leaders and citizens, but eventually something has to or it’s downhill from here on.
        that is true.

  3. seafoid
    seafoid on June 26, 2014, 12:11 pm

    It’s a pity Hyman Minsky is no longer with us. Zionism is now in its Ponzi stage.
    Attacking Ramallah is a sign of the insanity. Bennett called Abbas a terrorist this week. They are nuts.

    They make Bernie Madoff look rational.

  4. just
    just on June 26, 2014, 12:25 pm

    Ramallah has been under siege before. I really never thought it was over.

    Nothing like freedom and peace of mind ever seems to last for long in the OPT because of the naked aggression and cruelty of Israel. That is, nothing except for the fortitude of the Palestinians. How they can keep their hope alive is truly something to behold. Perhaps their strength springs from the absolute rightness of their position and the necessity for justice to be done, and a fierce hope that the world will actually help them in their struggle to live and breathe free.

    It’s not only time for Israel to stop their latest murderous siege, it is also time for Israel to face sanctions and punishment. I don’t wish for another intifada… I wish for the US to face up to the facts– just once in my lifetime. This intifada needs to happen from the outside in. The US has the power to change life for the better with even a soupçon of honesty and a whole lot less hypocrisy. The US enables the Israeli belligerence and Occupation, and has done so with impunity since the beginning.

    Thanks for the Levy article seafoid. His essays are heartfelt, honest, and rife with his despair for a country that has failed so miserably.

    Stay safe Corey. Many thanks.

  5. jd65
    jd65 on June 26, 2014, 12:35 pm

    Hey folks. Is the last word of this article a typo. Should it say “un”likely? Seems like maybe so…

  6. seafoid
    seafoid on June 26, 2014, 2:27 pm

    United Nations Human Rights Council
    Geneva, June 24, 2014
    Statements made by the representative of the International Association of Jewish Lawyers and Jurists and Rachel Frankel

    No mention of administrative detention.

    • Kay24
      Kay24 on June 26, 2014, 2:39 pm

      I think the world is wiser now to Israel’s hypocrisy. I wish someone responded to her one sided appeal for sympathy (they thrive on it) and reminded her of the young kids who were brutally killed during the Nakba commemorations, or the hundreds of young kids as young as 12 yrs, who have been kidnapped by the IDF, many from their safe homes during the night. It is the attitude, and hypocrisy, that is appalling here. No kid should be kidnapped by anyone.

      • ritzl
        ritzl on June 26, 2014, 8:07 pm

        The one-sidedness of her appeal is astounding in that setting. It’s kind of interesting-sad that the only ones that the unbalanced absurdity of her appeal is lost upon are these settler mothers (and the people that sent them).

    • RoHa
      RoHa on June 26, 2014, 7:51 pm

      Why is there an International Association of Jewish Lawyers? Why are they not content with an International Association of Lawyers?

  7. merlot
    merlot on June 26, 2014, 3:04 pm

    The whole concept of a Ramallah bubble is something of a fallacy. It is an idea that conforms to a surface level Western understanding of the occupation and life plays up the glitz that sits on the surface of Ramallah, benefiting the elite and foreigners, but doing nothing for most of Ramallah’s citizens who are impacted by the daily reality of occupation just like every other Palestinian.

    Ramallah does have more cafes and bars than other cities. It does have a lively night life. It does have an over class of rich people and PA functionaries. The presence of the PA and international organizations and consulates mean that over the last 7 years it hasn’t been raided as often as other cities by Israel.

    However, most of Ramallah’s residents are not able to partake in or benefit from this superficial world. When the Ramallah bubble pops it only pops for foreigners who are still learning about the power of the Occupation. I don’t think any Palestinians are ever under any illusion that the excessive consumption and materialism present in Ramallah are protections from occupation.

    • just
      just on June 26, 2014, 3:44 pm

      A really good comment, merlot.

    • Shingo
      Shingo on June 26, 2014, 6:34 pm

      Ramallah is as Chomsky puts it, an example of British colonialism and occupation. The British learned that occupation is much more effective if more effective if you keep the ruling classes fat and priveleged. That way, they become part of the occupying force and help keep the restless natives at bay.

      • merlot
        merlot on June 26, 2014, 9:02 pm

        It is the PA and a certain capitalist class that exist in high numbers in Ramallah and in lesser numbers in other locations who have power and privilege. They have built for themselves institutions that provide distraction and benefit for those who can afford the entry cost, particularly in Ramallah. However, the existence of this class and their privilege is not Ramallah in any real sense. It is just what stands out to foreigners who find easy entrance to and comfort in this part of Ramallah. This is not the city as a bubble as most of the city is made up of people who gain no benefit for this reality (rather suffering from high cost of living ). It is rather class and power bubble that is not limited to Ramallah. I will agree however that it is useful for maintaining occupation and colonialism.

  8. just
    just on June 26, 2014, 3:51 pm

    “RAMALLAH (Ma’an) — A young Palestinian man was found hanged late Wednesday in a field on the outskirts of Beit Surik, south of Ramallah, police said.

    Muhammad Khalid Khalil Mansour, 23, disappeared nine days ago from the neighboring village of Biddu. Residents of Beit Surik discovered his body hanging from a tree.

    Police have opened an investigation and the body has been sent to the Institute of Forensic Medicine at al-Quds University.”

    http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=707960

    “JERUSALEM (Ma’an) — Israeli forces on Thursday demolished the walls of a mosque under construction in Shufat refugee camp in East Jerusalem, a camp spokesman said.

    Israeli soldiers escorted a bulldozer from Jerusalem’s municipality to the camp and destroyed the foundation of the mosque.

    Shufat is the only Palestinian refugee camp within the municipal boundaries of Jerusalem and is administered by the UN agency for Palestinian refugees.”

    http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=707948

  9. just
    just on June 26, 2014, 5:01 pm

    They did it just this past March as well.

    http://mondoweiss.net/2014/03/bulldozers-medical-jerusalem.html

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