9 July, 2010 — The Only Democracy?
I’ve been thinking about truth. About what the word means, and how we know what it means. This comes in the wake of yesterday’s demonstration, with its by now habitual rituals unfolding in their remorseless, bitter order—the hopeful beginning, the drumming and slogans, the dispossessed Palestinians standing beside us as we chant, the rapid, volatile crescendo, the eventual police attack, and the arrests. Sarah, a young woman of astonishing courage and clarity, was among the first to be arrested.
On the one hand, Sheikh Jarrah is a touchstone. As Misha said to me on the way back: Some things are amazingly simple. In Sheikh Jarrah you can see pure theft in all its starkness. The Bible says “Thou shalt not steal,” and it—God, that is– was referring to Sheikh Jarrah. Any one can see it. The shocking thing, of course, is that the whole apparatus of the modern state—the municipality, its committees and master plans and grey bureaucrats, the mayor, the government, the Prime Minister, the cabinet, the courts, the police, the secret services—all these have colluded in actively perpetrating the theft. There’s really not much room for argument. Either you stand by and let them throw innocent people out of their homes, or you come each week to demonstrate and resist. It’s particularly terrible because the wave of expulsions is continuing, in fact intensifying. Two weeks ago we shifted the demonstration to the new set of houses that have been targeted. As so many times before, we heard an aged, wrinkled Palestinian grandmother say: “Why are they doing this to us? I prefer to die than to leave my home.”