When I first began blogging six years ago, I wrote a lot about the Palestinians & the Israeli occupation. I got into a lot of blog fights & realized that this was a case in which rational argument was just not going to make any headway against fear & bigotry. I'll stipulate that Fatah was / is corrupt & that Hamas is a terrorist group as well as a de facto welfare organization. (That's a brilliant, if morally defunct, political combination.) So stipulated, but here is my question in response to news this week that both the Bush administration & the Olmert administration have now released millions of dollars to the Palestinian Authority: Why did you wait? Why did you pursue a policy guaranteed to radicalize a generation of Palestinians? I'll propose an answer: because both governments are run by people whose imaginations have become so calcified, so narrowed, so sclerotic, that they simply do not understand the consequences of their actions. It is as if they were playing some bible-based video game. The failure of imagination at the most basic level is simply staggering; one can only understand such men -- mostly men -- by supposing them to have become their own caricatures. It is a failure, of course, that runs through the politics of the United States, Israel & some parts of Western Europe. Is this, then, the Enlightenment, collapsing upon itself to become a white dwarf? A political-gravitational sink hole? That's what it looks like from where I sit out here in the country by a river flowing out of the mountains. But then, my position -- my location -- is not on the political radar. Which is to say, I do not exist. Like the Palestinians. Except that my suffering is intellectual & ethical, theirs a matter of life & death.

Author: jd

Joseph Duemer is Professor of Literature Emeritus at Clarkson University in northern New York state. His most recent book of poems is Magical Thinking from Ohio State University Press. Since the mid-1990s he has spent a good deal of time in Vietnam, mostly Hanoi. He lives with his wife Carole & five terriers (four Jack Russells & one Patterdale) on the stony bank of the Raquette River in South Colton.

2 thoughts on “Palestine”

  1. “Why did you pursue a policy guaranteed to radicalize a generation of Palestinians?”

    Because they fear the repercussions of democratic equality more than they fear the repercussions of radicalized inequality.

  2. It just makes me sick at heart. But even base self-interest, you would think, would have led to better policy.

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