"But in any case, Israeli policy will ultimately fail."

Edward Said has written a powerful, profoundly moving account of the present horror of the Israeli/Palestinian death dance. It's not especially brief, but it carries the reader breathlessly along its argument. The pain is not in the read, but in the message.

Israel is frequently referred to as a democracy. If so, then it is a democracy without a conscience, a country whose soul has been captured by a mania for punishing the weak, a democracy that faithfully mirrors the psychopathic mentality of its ruler, General Sharon, whose sole idea -- if that is the right word for it -- is to kill, reduce, maim, drive away Palestinians until "they break". He provides nothing more concrete as a goal for his campaigns, now or in the past, beyond that, and like the garrulous official in Kafka's story he is most proud of his machine for abusing defenceless Palestinian civilians, all the while monstrously abetted in his grotesque lies by his court advisers and philosophers and generals, as well as by his chorus of faithful American servants. There is no Palestinian army of occupation, no Palestinian tanks, no soldiers, no helicopter gun-ships, no artillery, no government to speak of. But there are the "terrorists" and the "violence" that Israel has invented so that its own neuroses can be inscribed on the bodies of Palestinians, without effective protest from the overwhelming majority of Israel's laggard philosophers, intellectuals, artists, peace activists. Palestinian schools, libraries and universities have ceased normal functioning for months now: and we still wait for the Western freedom-to-write-groups and the vociferous defenders of academic freedom in America to raise their voices in protest. I have yet to see one academic organisation either in Israel or in the West make a declaration about this profound abrogation of the Palestinian right to knowledge, to learning, to attend school.

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Published on August 19, 2002 7:49 PM.

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