This is part of Marc H. Ellis’s “Exile and the Prophetic” feature for Mondoweiss. To read the entire series visit the archive page.
From a correspondent in Jerusalem:
Life is surreal. I am sitting in the educational bookstore listening to lovely Arab music answering emails with the sound of helicopters overhead and old men sauntering by coming from the Al Aqsa with prayer rugs on their heads to protect them from the sun.
That’s often the reality of occupations, incursions, invasions, wars – ordinary life and extraordinary violence. The combination is surreal.
In Israel/Palestine, it’s a way of life. Either heading toward, tapering off or beginning another round in other ways. The surreal mix is heady, dangerous and violent. The surreal is real.
We were supposed to be at the end. So John Kerry said. As many did before. But this was it, final, all claims settled, a new reality on the ground.
Meaning what? To whom?
Now we are on the brink of another wave of violence, or in the middle of a new wave. Isn’t it one long arc of violence of which this is the latest?
Thinking about settler violence, settler rampages, settler murders. The call from political authorities, including Prime Minister Netanyahu, to pipe down, show restraint, act civilized is disingenuous while the soldiers under his command invade and bomb, blow up homes and shoot children.
What type of violence is worse – mob violence or state violence?
The combination is the cruelest as we Jews know well. Now Jews are involved in a similar way. We remember, at least we should, that the quelling of mob violence was the prelude to the greater violence to come.
The lessons of history have been lost to us. Or did we learn them too well?
Here from the YWCA- Palestine that deadly combination- on the ground as events are unfolding:
Helicopters buzz overhead all day. Tear gas chokes the air around the Shu’fat Refugee camp as youth with stones clash with soldiers in response to more murders. Near Beit Hanina the roads are closed or blocked. “Death to Arabs” was the rally cry of thousands on Jaffa Street last night seeking a lynching after the funeral of the three Israeli youth who were found dead in shallow graves on June 29th. This is on top of the burning of the homes of the families of the suspected killers in Hebron and the nightly bombings in Gaza.
Two more Palestinian youth were murdered in Shu’fat Refugee camp near Jerusalem— one was burned to death. We are trying to keep up with the death toll during this state sanctified reign of terror. Whole communities are in lock down or under military control while the rest of us are reliving past traumas or memories of intifadas. Israel’s rampage is not a response to terror nor is it a military sweep or manhunt as it also includes paramilitary settlers who act and murder with impunity.
Star of David helicopter gunships and settler’s rampaging. I wonder what color shirts they’re wearing? I doubt it’s Nazi brown. Star of David blue?
You see when the mob comes and the state is there, too, it doesn’t matter what color shirts the violent wear. Or what the state is called.
It all comes down to the same thing, even in the “Jewish” state.