Do Unto Others focuses on the Middle East, (nonviolent) social movements, and how I make sense of my place in the world. I'm currently based in Cairo, Egypt doing peacebuilding and community development.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

A Bleak Future

Sitting in a West Jerusalem cafe after a visa appointment at the Ministry of Interior, my friend Mikha, an Israeli anti-occupation activist, and I, were asking one another about life and work. I gave brief updates on the situations in At-Tuwani and Hebron, focusing on the recent festival in At-Tuwani and also the recent settler violence in Al-Bweireh, east of Hebron. I asked Mikha about the situation in Sheikh Jarrah, where Israeli activists hold a weekly demonstration to protest the judaization of Sheikh Jarrah. Mikha said it's becoming a solely Israeli protest, with no Palestinian presence, and it's invigorating a new Israeli left movement. He said there are pros and cons to that.

Then Mikha paused, and said, "But you know what, Sam, things never change here. Nothing is really new. Things are always the same here, except they just slowly, gradually get worse."

As pessimistic as it may sound, I think there's a lot of truth to that. Whenever people come back to Palestine after being away for years, they always speak about the deeper entrenchment of the settlement enterprise, the greater number of closures, the transformation of checkpoints into enormous border crossings, the increasing settler presence in East Jerusalem, and the growing sense of hopelessness and depression. Things just slowly get worse, and the illusion of peace talks or a peace process become closer and closer to fantasy.

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